I was on one of my weekly videocalls with a girlfriend. Her phone buzzed incessantly throughout the hour-long conversation.
“Who can’t leave you alone, girl?” I asked her eventually.
It was a guy who had slid into her DMs on Instagram and was now pestering her on WhatsApp.
She had made the mistake of hastily giving him her number out of lockdown boredom and, well, loneliness.
No judgment from my side – as singletons caught in a global pandemic, our chances at finding a potential suitor lay largely in the feeble hands of social media.
And social media wouldn’t be my first choice even under normal circumstances.
I’ve never been a fan of meeting someone online. I lasted all of a few hours on Tinder before gracefully bowing out and heard enough about Bumble to keep my business off it.
The truth is you just don’t know who the person is on the other side. And because social media has made us so easily accessible, there’s hardly any effort required in the pursuit of someone’s attention.
Quite frankly, as a sucker for a good love story, recounting how I met my partner on social media just doesn’t cut it for me.
Yet here we are, forced to utilse the glorious offerings of technology to stay connected with old friends and hopefully meet new ones.
Coffee dates in cute restaurants have turned into videocalls. More than hoping the in-person chemistry is as strong as the telephonic conversation, there’s now the Wi-Fi connection to worry about too.
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Nothing worse than being cut off midway through your sentence by a faulty service provider, right?
Pre-pandemic, I was by no means a dating maven.
My love-life has always been stable enough to keep me sane with enough excitement to keep me going.
Last year this time I was just coming out of a painful breakup (we met on Instagram, go figure) and after months of doing the standard healing and dealing, I was finally ready to step out.
The dates were lined up.
Sitting across the table from someone, it was easy to determine within the first few seconds whether to give them a spot in the friend zone, never-see-you-again zone or the second-date zone.
It wasn’t long until one of the potential suitors caught my full attention and I bid farewell to my short-lived coffee-date jaunt.
The months that followed were blissful. He was great and I was in love.
Except it was long-distance and my need for physical interaction placed a damper on a near-perfect scenario.
Then came the coronavirus, impolitely interfering in an already-difficult situation.
The uncertainty around when we’d see each other again and the constant feeling of being disconnected (nothing network related) led to the end of our love story.
He was a healthcare worker, under immense pressure and struggled to find an outlet for his stress. It was difficult to witness but with hundreds of kilometres between us, my hands were cut off.
I was heartbroken – was this invisible enemy really going to cost me a relationship?
But as time passed, I realised the coronavirus and subsequent lockdown brought to the fore issues that would’ve anyway reared their ugly head later on.
So actually, I had to thank the virus for giving me a head start.
I was right back where I was last year this time, except now I didn’t have much choice in how long I’d need me-time before I’m ready to date again.
That will be decided by the spread of a deadly pandemic, science and the government.
I reluctantly turned to social media but, like my girlfriend, lost interest rather quickly.
There are only so many messages and voice notes to send before the novelty wears off. I might be a millennial but no relationship, be it romantic or friendly, feels real to me unless it happens in real life.
Sadly, that’s not possible right now.
Because love might be a gamble, that doesn’t mean your health should be at stake.
I’d rather stay home, stay safe and stay single until the battlefield of love is ready to enter again.