Relationship educator Holly Dixon says while sex with someone outside your bubble is out-of-bounds, now might be a better time than ever to find a partner

A few have lamented to me that this lockdown has put a dampener on their ability to date, and therefore find a partner. However, I think this could actually be a great time to find a partner. Here’s why: 

Covid-19 appears to have prompted an increase in collective compassion, friendliness and warmth. When I’m walking around my local area more people than ever before have smiled, waved and greeted me. Alongside this, people (myself included) seem to be less concerned about image. It’s as if we, in the wake of a global-pandemic-come-existential-crisis, are shedding facades of pretension and falseness, and forgoing attempts to gain favour by acting in less-than-authentic ways. 

I suspect this warmth and authenticity is bleeding over into the dating world. Out of respect for my partner and our relationship, I have not tested out my assumptions by engaging with eligible suitors on Bumble or Tinder. However, I have queried my assumption with a few friends in the dating game who have all confirmed they’ve witnessed an increase in this kind of friendliness and authenticity (please note, my sample size of two should be interpreted with caution).  

The second reason I think it’s a great time to date right now is because you don’t have the ability to have sex. Hear me out: sex, or physical closeness, triggers the release of hormones that make us feel safe, happy, trusting and committed. These bonding hormones prompt attachment responses that incline us toward establishing a deeper and more emotional bond with someone. 

This is all well and good, but sometimes there are benefits to be had in slowing things down. For instance, you get more time and space to determine whether your relationship has a chance to flex, learn and grow, to figure out whether there are any deal-breakers in the relationship (including how important those deal breakers are to you), to determine the intensity of your feeling toward them, and you may get more time and space to see and feel the impact of any red flags. 

Perhaps, without the intensity that sex brings, you’re able to use your head as much as you use your heart.

With physical connection out of the question, written and verbal communication are at an all-time high. What does this mean for you and your potential lover? More time to test out their responsiveness and consistency – the two great keys to a secure-functioning bond. The more your potential lover reliably shows up and wants to connect with you (for instance, by taking the time to ask how you’re doing, by trying to find creative ways to date at this time), the more you can feel confident that they’d find ways to accommodate your needs and resolve relationship challenges if you actually start going steady post lockdown.

Finally, while many of you might lament the inability to meet in more established dating venues (for example, going to a bar for a drink, going out for dinner, going to the movies), you could consider this time an opportunity for more clever and creative dating experiences. Can’t have dinner together? Buy them a bottle of wine and send it over with a message inviting them to drinks or a candlelit dinner via FaceTime (provided you’ve established enough of a rapport to share addresses, of course). Can’t give them flowers? Find some flowers on your daily walk, take some artistic photos of them and send them to the person you have emoji-heart-eyes for. Better yet, ask them questions about themselves and then come up with a way to build intimacy that speaks to their uniqueness – and yours.

This is an unprecedented time. Unprecedented times call for creative solutions. I hope you use this as an invitation to rethink any initial disappointment you may have had about quarantine being the end of your dating life, and instead think of this as an opportunity to connect with potential lovers in a warmer, more authentic, considered and creative way.

Holly is the director of relationship education platform Togetherly

Holly Dixon is a doctoral candidate in the School of Medicine at the University of Auckland.

Leave a comment