So here’s the thing, I’ve been single for 18 months and my most commonly used excuse is that I “don’t have time” for dating. Yes, I know you’re picturing it – KeepCup in one hand, phone in the other, firmly pressed to my ear, just oh-so-very-busy. Sorry, I can’t reply to your WhatsApps but check out my Instagram Stories as proof of how busy I am.
Like my fellow single friends in London, my weeknights after work are as full as my weekends; from long-overdue breakfast catch-ups and boxing classes to scheduled-in life admin and visiting friends outside of the city. I’m not just too busy for dating – in truth, I don’t even make time for my dating apps. Yes, ‘apps’ plural – I’m on two, feigning making an effort.
By the time I get home of an evening, I’m turning off my brain, taking off my bra and doing anything but looking at my phone.
So when the nation went into lockdown, and freelance work contracts dried up and dropped off, suddenly I had nothing but time. “It’s a good time for dating apps,” one of my married friends heavily suggested.
And she was right. Not only have dating apps seen an increase in sign-ups and swipes across the board during the lockdown, but they’re also reporting that people are having longer conversations and making deeper connections.
With dinner dates off the table, singletons are turning to virtual first dates on FaceTime, putting on make-up for the first time in weeks and ordering for each other on Deliveroo.
Good for them. No, really. If people fall in love during lockdown, run into each other’s arms at the first sign of freedom and one day tell their grandkids that they had their Meet Cute on Zoom during a global pandemic, that’s genuinely bloody lovely.
I, however, will not be one of them. I’m not actively avoiding dating apps, I’ve just never cared less about going on them. Even when Bumble tried to tempt me back with free gold coins, I was drawn to the shiny-shiny, poked around out of curiosity and immediately lost interest. Yes, my spirit animal is a puppy in a biscuit factory.
Maybe it’s because I’m having more daily contact by text, call and video chat with people I actually know. I’m chatting to friends and family via WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter at all times of day, with video calls virtually every evening. I’m also lucky enough to live with a housemate who is also a best mate, and we chat all the time.
I just don’t have the want or the need to talk to anybody else. Make an effort with a stranger and try to “do flirting?” Please, I answered one voice call to an editor while covered in hair dye and wearing my designated, hair-dying, bleach-stained vest. It’s lilac. I was braless. The full works. Enjoy the image.
Maybe it’s because I’m also impatient – as much as I’d love to blame that on our culture of instant gratification. On the rare occasion when I do get a good rapport going on a dating app, I’m almost always the first to propose a meet-up. “Looking for a date, not a pen pal.”
Knowing that getting a coffee in will be at a time TBC, it just feels pointless. We’ll chat for a bit, we’ll run out of things to say because every day is kind of the same, it’ll fizzle out because we can’t build that more intimate connection. And get your minds out the gutter, I’m not talking about sexy time.
OK, so maybe it’s just me. You reap what you sow. We’ve already been given permission to not feel pressured into being productive right now. We just need to “put on our sweatpants and survive.” Human connection is important, but I want to use my social time connecting with friends and family, reaching out to isolated, older relatives and frazzled mums who are juggling parenting with home-schooling.
Of course, you can definitely do both. But when I’m not virtually socialising, I’m taking all the offline time I can get. And if you want to do the same, you go for it. There’s plenty of time for love after lockdown. That Painting By Numbers ain’t gonna finish itself, and recruitment for NHS volunteers will be re-opening any day now.
Images: Getty, Pixabay