I know for many it’s spooky season, and most people are discussing horror and scary topics for Halloween. But honestly, hasn’t 2020 been scary enough without adding vampires, werewolves, and zombies to the mix? I mean, we’ve already had murder hornets, land hurricanes, and aliens or whatnot. Civil unrest lurks around every corner. Going to the grocery store is like entering a realm in The Matrix and trying to avoid Agent Smith, and staying at home feels like being trapped in Alcatraz.
Most of the world will agree that 2020 has not been phenomenal, and the majority of people have had their world’s thrown upside down in warp speed in a not so pleasant way. In fact, this year has left many people anxious and depressed. I believe one of the hardest adjustments that needed to be made was remaining at home mandates. For persons with families, remaining at home may not have been as lonely of an experience as persons who live alone. Even for extreme introverts who work from home, live alone, and value their privacy, not being able to go places likely dampened their mood, too. It’s like being a kid and being told not to touch something which makes the forbidden item even more desirable. And while it is easy to point out all the negative, it is more important to locate the good. When given lemons, make lemon drop martinis. (BTW, if you haven’t tried a lemon drop martini, it really should be on everyone’s bucket list in my opinion. But that’s not the point of this post.)
Since the pandemic began, I found myself watching less television. I would’ve thought my viewing would have increased. However, I found that I quickly ran out of material for binge-watching. But I did run across an interesting movie (unfortunately, I do not know the name of it because I didn’t catch it from the beginning) that was apparently filmed during the pandemic. It revolved around several couples coping with the stay-at-home city ordinances and how it affected their relationships. Well, that was the Hollywood (or wherever it was filmed) version, and it caused me to consider how people were coping with dating in the real world. So, I began doing some small-town investigation with my merry band of hobo friends, colleagues, and associates.
While dating during a pandemic certainly has its challenges, there are positives to be mentioned.
- “I don’t know” is a thing of the past. Let me illustrate this with an example I’m sure most can relate to. Imagine spending the day with a group of your closest friends. It’s dinner time, and you’re all hungry. You ask the others what they want to eat. It’s a round of “I don’t care,” “it doesn’t matter,” “anything,” and “I don’t know.” Therefore, you throw out some suggestions. Friend One doesn’t like food X, and Friend Two got food poisoning the last time he/she was at Restaurant A. Friend Three is vegan and won’t eat at Restaurant B because all their dishes have meat or meat products. Restaurant C is too far out of the way for Friend Four who is driving, and no one wants to go to Restaurant D because it doesn’t have a bar. This one is too expensive. That one has bad seating. And the list goes on. After an hour of debate and frustration, your group ends up going to the first restaurant suggested. The pandemic restrictions reduced the number of options which simplified a lot of decision making.
- Creative Planning. Traditional dates of going out allows the environment to do a lot of the work. For example, it’s pretty difficult mucking up a date at an amusement park (although I’m sure it’s possible). One gets on the rides, eat greasy foods, and play rigged games that they can never win. They aren’t inventing the fun. Rather, they are enjoying the environment that has been created for them. The best example I can give one that reflects on my childhood. Growing up, my parents would send me outside to play. This required me to invent ways to entertain myself. I looked around me and found something to do. That might have been skipping rocks across the bayou or catching crawdads. Or maybe it was braiding blades of grass into necklaces and bracelets. Any activity that I engaged in, I created. It wasn’t waiting for me. The pandemic is causing people to invent virtual dates. For example, some people set up cameras in their kitchens and cook a meal together. Others watch the same movie from their individual homes while Facetiming.
- Saving money. Dates can be expensive, but not most pandemic dates. Many people dress up and sit in front of their computers for dates. During this time, for many, every penny saved is important. One does not need to spend a lot of money to have a good time. Some of the best dates are ones that cost zero bucks.
- Being comfortable in one’s own skin. Speaking of getting dressed up, another trend that seemed to come out of the pandemic is the enjoyment of getting dressed up for something. Many people spent weeks wearing nothing but pajamas or joggers. Men gave themselves haircuts. Women didn’t bother with makeup. Having a date gave people reason to gussy up. But even when stay-at-home restrictions were lifted, many people continued to embrace this new sense of “naturalism.” That confidence comes out in dating. People aren’t putting on as many airs. It’s an “accept me as I am” attitude, which is beautiful because it means people are showing their authentic selves.
- Improved communication. Virtual dates are all about communication. There isn’t anything there to distract. But it’s more than that. In this current environment, more people are finding their voice. People who have been reluctant to speak what they feel are more open. A colleague was discussing her dating experience. She has a tendency to not say anything when a man hurts her feelings, and she has put up with a lot in the past. The last man she dated ghosted her after their first sleepover. She texted him a couple of times before she realized what was happening. Previously, she would’ve spent weeks crying over it and wondering what she had done wrong. This time, she phoned him and told him that she deserved better than not having an answer to what had gone wrong with the relationship. After that, she seemed to get over the relationship a lot faster than previous ones. Another friend stated how the pandemic has made him more aware of what he’s looking for in a relationship. He stated that dating shouldn’t be an interview, but he knows which questions are important for him to ask early to determine if he wants to continue dating. He stated that during the pandemic he has gained a deeper understanding of himself and his part in his previous failed relationships. He is using this information to better his future dating experiences.
- Beyond skin deep. I find this to be funny, but so many people have said this to me I had to include it. “Everyone looks the same,” one friend said to me. “They must have a personality because I don’t know what they look like beneath the masks.” A male associate stated that, prior to the pandemic, he placed a higher weight on physical beauty. “Eyes attracted me, but now it’s ears.” The reason this made me chuckle is because I have always had the Randy Travis’ Forever and Ever, Amen physical beauty fades; love shouldn’t. I think sometimes people fear aging, not because they fear nearing the end of life but because they fear being unloved. They fear, once their youth is gone, so is their value and relevance. Well, if beauty is all that one has to offer, that’s scary. But apparently, it takes a pandemic forcing people to cover up with masks for this to resonate for some people.
- “I’m ready.” I think I have heard this from more male companions than female companions. It’s the realization that they have reached a point where they are finally ready to settle down with someone and make a commitment. A friend who was an avowed bachelor stated that the pandemic made him aware he had an empty space in his life. When he was able to go out with friends, he did not see vacant spots in his life. However, being alone in his home and seeing his friends in video chat with their families hit him in a different way. “My job shut down, and my night life dried up when all the local establishments closed. I would call my friends, and they would all be busy doing something with their families, or they would send me funny videos of them doing something goofy they’d do as a group. And I’d be alone for days with no real interaction. I began jogging in my neighborhood just so I could have human contact from six-feet away. I’m not saying I’m running to the altar tomorrow, but I will start taking relationships more seriously.”
- Time management. A divorced friend stated that she had to relearn how to manage her time. She spent the days at home in Zoom meetings and helping her children with virtual school. She still had her daily household duties to tend. When it came to dating, she wasn’t leaving her children with a sitter to go out for the evening. “He had to see my dirty house and kids yelling in the background from the other room. He got a real view of what my life was like and an idea if he wanted to stick around and be a part of the craziness. It would make me so anxious,” she said. She continued with, “But I also had to learn to get my act together so that I would have my kids in bed and house cleaned before my dates. I began making schedules of when chores were to be done and by whom. I color coded things and used containers to organize my closets and shelves. I designed a homework area and enforced bedtimes. Doing these things not only helped simplify my life but made dating easier as well.”
That’s all I have. How has your pandemic experience been? Have you found any of these items to be true? What did you agree or disagree with? Let me know your thoughts and comments below. If you like this type content consider giving this post a like and follow.
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Locker Room Love is a steamy standalone gay romance/ MM romance series revolving around professional hockey players. Set primarily in the Cajun and Creole bayous of south Louisiana, these love stories have a diverse cast of characters. These sexy athletes are discovering their own voice and the best romance of their lives, even if that isn’t their intention. Find tales of friends to lovers, enemies to loves, billionaires, bad boys, forbidden romance, first times, gay for you, and more. These alpha males are guaranteed to work up a sweat and melt the ice.
For more of my stories, shenanigans, giveaways, and more, check out my blog, Creole Bayou, www.genevivechambleeconnect.wordpress.com. New posts are made on Wednesdays (with bonus posts sometimes on Mondays), and everything is raw and unscathed. Climb on in a pirogue and join me on the bayou. I discuss all things Creole, Cajun, recipes, trivia, psychology, mental health, self-help, beauty, writing tips and, of course, romance. There’s a little something for everyone.
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Until next time, happy reading and much romance. Keep safe.