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Kami West had been dating her current boyfriend for a few weeks when she told him that he was outranked by her best friend. West knew her boyfriend had caught snatches of her daily calls with Kate Tillotson, which she often placed on speaker mode.


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Two months into the pandemic, I gave in and tried Zoom dating. After a few days of chatting on OKCupid, I found myself across the screen from a perfectly nice match.

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They reported quickly growing weary of the constant contact. In the trade-off between loneliness and conflict, I was happy with my choice. But as time continued to pass, isolation settled in, and I began to crave romantic intrigue. I could keep my life on hold for a few months, I thought. I redownloaded Hinge for the first time in five months. Read: Singles and couples are more divided than ever.

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Instead of searching for topics that would hopefully elucidate our compatibility, my matches and I now had an all-encompassing shared experience to discuss. I tried to steer the early dialogue away from the magnitude of our global predicament, and we were able to find common ground over topics such as how we were keeping ourselves busy at home.

They met during lockdown. they realized who they were dating later.

The men were more responsive, likely because the shutdowns had left all of us with few obligations, clinging to any social connection we could find. If it took a global pandemic to get a guy to respond to my messages, so be it. The only time commitment I made outside of the call itself was the five minutes it took to apply mascara, and I often scheduled two dates in a night to maximize my lashes.

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I felt more in control on FaceTime because I could choose how my dates saw me. Initially, I feared that the ability to see myself would be distracting. The men seemed looser too. ly, the unwritten rule of first dates had been to never say the word datebut the virtual dating experience was so unusual that we were quick to openly debrief.

I felt vulnerable admitting to strangers that I was worried about my FaceTime dating skills, but we were all equally inexperienced, and many of them shared my insecurities. FaceTiming had its downsides.

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Yet another drunkenly called me in a towel and tried to flash his genitals. Fortunately, I could hang up and blame the Wi-Fi. Overall, though, because of the convenience and safety—COVID is not the only risk women face when dating in person—I might recommend that daters always start with a FaceTime, even when the threat of the coronavirus has diminished.

I seemed to offend one date by asking him to stand farther away from me. After a few misses, I caught a good one. Sam and I FaceTimed for hours.

The five years that changed dating

He came over for a socially distanced date on my lawn, during which I called a doctor friend to ask about the safety of him using my bathroom. Sam patiently held his bladder during the call, and I gave him the okay. Near the end of May, we went on our third in-person date, and he brought up sex. He seemed to think it would be fun, and I agreed. I asked Sam if he was sleeping with anyone else.

He seemed taken aback, and I understood his reaction. I was really asking not only whether we were exclusive, but whether he was exposing me to additional risks of contracting the virus.

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Is anything casual anymore? COVID had ushered in a heaviness that conflicted with the fragility of our nascent romance.

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Unlike in my relationships, I had to decide immediately if I trusted Sam. It would be a binary choice between accepting or rejecting him. Read: There won't be a clear end to the pandemic. We entered the relationship with different protocols for staying safe.

What if friendship, not marriage, was at the center of life?

He had a small pod of people he saw indoors, including his parents. I never even considered asking him to see people less often or outdoors. Instead, I began getting tested before visiting his family at indoor gatherings. As selfish as I worried dating was, the value of a joyful day had shot up in quarantine, and Sam gave me so many—did that count for nothing? The United Nations has warned of the mental-health crisis lurking as the pandemic wears on, so we should be wary of dismissing the value of happiness.

This extends beyond starting new relationships.

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The guilt lingers, though. If I were a perfect social-distancer, I would have stayed home. Once Sam and I settled into a committed relationship, a new wave of anxieties emerged. What was he like in groups of people?

What it’s like to date after middle age

Was he anxious about flying? Similarly, I worried that a dealbreaker about me was waiting for Sam on the other side of the crisis. For example, asking Sam to fly to London to visit my family over the holidays seems like an unreasonable expectation. The pandemic has forced me to find alternative s of stability. COVID has taken so much from us, but not the joy of my new relationship. Popular Latest. The Atlantic Crossword. In Subscribe.