Commentary: Coronavirus and romance – don’t stand so close to me

Commentary: Coronavirus and romance – don't stand so close to me

Ian Haysom’s coronavirus diary will appear here regularly.

Coronavirus is testing our relationships. For instance, online dating is now, well, online dating.

BC (Before Coronovirus) you found someone online you sorta liked the look of and fixed up to meet them for a coffee at Starbucks. Then you chatted for a while, made sure they didn’t slurp their coffee too much or say something like “my passion is playing the bagpipes in the nude at midnight”  and then you’d proceed – or not – from there.

Now you start online and continue online. Starbucks is closed. You’re dating from the waist up. But no touching. Not yet. Not for a long time, in fact, so this is your new reality. Dating over FaceTime.

Even if you do, say, agree to meet in a park, you have to keep two metres apart. So no hugging, no kissing, no anything. And no hanky-panky. Lust is on hold.

The Globe and Mail did a story recently on dating in the age of coronavirus, and most of those dating online seemed to think this way of dating was more authentic.  People seem to be nicer these days, a little more sincere. Then again, as someone once said, if you can fake sincerity you’ve got it made.

And, the website, said more singles are dating during the crisis than ever before. That figures. You’re not restricted by money, position, geography. And since the hairdressers are closed, you have an excuse for looking like a slob.

The geography thing is something I’ve long been interested in. Love is a convenience, for the most part. Oh, I know there are stories of people falling in love online while one is in Australia and the other on Salt Spring Island. But mostly you date someone convenient. And nearby.  Online-online dating, means you date until the end of the situation, wherever you are on the planet, and then go your different ways.

A few months ago I was in my favourite coffee shop, Brentwood Bay Village Empourium, when I realized I was sitting next to a couple on a first date after they had fixed up a meeting online. They were an attractive couple (well, not a couple but couple-wannabes) in their 40s, and I listened in, pretending not to, on their conversation.

Well, less a conversation and more of a monologue. The man kept telling her how he’d worked in the Bahamas, how he’d travelled to many exotic places, about how important his work was, and as he droned on and on trying to impress her, she was pushing more and more away from the table. He talked for five minutes straight.

“Ask her a question, you dummy,” I said in my head. But he didn’t. And she began looking at her watch, at the door where she’d be bolting towards in the next 30 seconds if she could, and he was now telling her something about a house he’d built single-handed while writing the next great Canadian novel and she said, “Oh, I have to go to the bathroom.”

He sat there, obviously pleased with himself, but I could tell this was going nowhere. She came out of the bathroom and without sitting down said, “Well. Many thanks. I have to be going.” And she left. I found myself feeling sorry for her but also for the guy. He’d tried far too hard, but he missed one crucial thing (apart from the fact there was a gorgeous woman sitting across from him).

Body language.

Oh, and the first rule of relationships. Listen.

Or pretend to.

Of course, you can spot a dud online too, but online your feet can tap-dance off camera. And she may be impressed with your top half, not knowing you’re wearing a pink tutu on the bottom half. Let’s hope she’s into ballet.

A site has launched in New York called Catch Feelings, not COVID. It’s actually a Blind Date site where you fill out a questionnaire and a computer finds you a cool person to speed-date online. The site has taken off.

The questionnaire includes your hobbies, the political parties you support, religion and various other questions on how you would describe yourself towards others.

Each online date is 15 minutes. You can then decide if you want to continue. So, as the headline on the ABC News affiliate in New York says, “Blind dating can keep you socially distant while finding love.”

Obviously, asking for your political orientation, as well as your sexual, is more crucial in the United States than in Canada, where Conservatives and Liberals may make strange bed-fellows but still sleep together. In the United States friendships have broken up over whether you’re a fan or hater of Trump.

The first-date conversation in the U.S.  would go like this.

“So, I think Trump has been handling this crisis very well.”

“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh.” Click.

“Hey, where’d you go,  is there a problem with our connection?”


Read the previous diaries here:

Commentary: The Coronavirus Diaries March 18, 2020

Commentary: The Coronavirus Diaries March 19, 2020

Commentary: The Coronavirus Diaries March 20, 2020

Commentary: The Coronavirus Diaries March 22, 2020

Commentary: The Coronavirus Diaries March 23, 2020

Commentary: The Coronavirus Diaries March 24, 2020

Commentary: The Coronavirus Diaries March 25, 2020

Commentary: The Coronavirus Diaries March 26, 2020

Commentary: Living in a bubble world

Commentary: Living in a virus virtual world

Commentary: No April Fools. That’s no joke

Commentary: Get ready for the long haul – and hunker down

Commentary: Trudeau’s time is now – to lead us out of the abyss

Commentary: The days of Zoom and FaceTime and Skype …Just don’t turn into a potato

Commentary: God save the Queen and all of us

Ian HaysomIan Haysom

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