Do the new tier two rules mean that dating is dead for the foreseeable future?
When we went into lockdown over seven months ago, the dating landscape changed for everybody.
First, virtual dates over Zoom become the new norm. And more people took the extra downtime to properly question what it is they wanted from a relationship.
Then, as new daters started meeting up for outside dates in parks, FOMU (the Fear Of Meeting Up) became a very real thing. But thanks to the summer weather, it actually felt quite normal having a beer in the park.
Soon, single people living on their own were allowed to start support bubbles. Dates in restaurants bars and pubs were back on the cards, too, thanks to the Eat Out to Help Out scheme.
By August, the dating scene seemed relatively normal again for most of us.
But over recent months, these freedoms have been stripped back once more. Areas including Leeds, Greater Manchester, Leicester and Liverpool were put on lockdown again.
Across England, a new 10pm curfew meant that any date in the pub had to be cut short. There has also been some confusion over the “casual sex ban” (when exactly does a casual relationship become “established”?)
When thinking specifically about dating, these rules mean that single people can’t meet someone from another household or outside of their support bubble in a bar, pub, or restaurant. They also can’t invite anyone into their homes unless they are in a support bubble.
Of course, the most important thing here is that we all work together to help reduce the rate of coronavirus cases. But with so-called “cuffing season” among us, the timing means another blow for single people. The weather means that any outdoor, socially distanced dates are likely going to be cold, wet and short-lived.
So what do single people think about dating right now?
“I’m single and in tier three in Lancashire,” Nikki tells Stylist. “I’ve basically been banned from dating, from a sex life and from seeing my friends anywhere. I can have one support bubble but this needs to be used to be able to check on my mum, meaning I either break the rules or sit home alone with a 5-year-old every night for however much longer.”
“It means a celibate autumn and winter. Horrendous.” Lucy in London says. “Also tensions are high for single in flatshares, as some people stick to the rules better than others. I dated a bit in the gap between the lockdowns but this has halted things. Again.”
“After the first lockdown I craved intimacy and it was starting to affect my mental health,” says Suze in Leeds. “So when it was lifted, I did find that on a couple of dates. Now that we’re on lockdown again, I’m glad I did that. But I’m worried I might start craving it again soon.”
“I just got back on the dating scene around three weeks ago,” Sarita says. “I met some lovely guys, and was in the midst of organising second dates with them. However, now due to the tier two rules, it will be difficult. I’m currently trying to reschedule a second date with someone who I’d originally planned to go out with for drinks and dinner today! Now is not possible. We have to resort to a walk in the park in this chilly autumn weather.
“And even then, we decided the weather was a bit too cold and slightly damp to have a walk-in-a-park date. So not sure what dating is going to look like now in this cooler climate. But I know it will be hard, and the thought of trying to figure new ways to date makes me feel like I should just stop trying.”
We are all affected in different ways in this pandemic, but single people can take comfort in the knowledge that there are so many people out there feeling similar frustrations around the new rules.
If you’re feeling emotionally overwhelmed, anxious or stressed as a result of the recent rise in coronavirus cases and new restrictions you can find support and advice on both the NHS and Mind websites.