I stopped dating, and that happened long before the pandemic. The only thing I miss about it are the funny stories about bad dates I used to tell (often publicly for fundraisers for places like Planned Parenthood, so at least I mocked my potential swains for a good cause).
Unfortunately, this means that as the editor of a paper with an annual love and sex issue, I felt uniquely underqualified to assign stories on the topic. But I am also never afraid to back down from a challenge.
So I posted this on my personal Facebook page for all to see:
“EW’s Love and Sex issue is looming, and as a single person who doesn’t date, who has written far too many times about bad dates, I need some ideas for stories. Pandemic themes are good.”
The suggestions that poured in were golden and worth a story in themselves. I also got at least one message inviting me out on a date — for a story. Contrary to any number of Hollywood movies, female journalists don’t all sleep with their sources.
So here they are, with the exception of the date invite, lightly edited for space and sometimes anonymity.
• Couples who married during the pandemic. ????
• How to not be driven nuts by your partner in pandemic. I love me some relaxed quality time at home with my love, but it’s been almost 10 months of limited alternative social outlets and limited outside stimulation.
• “Single person who doesn’t date” — aromanticism is probably not written about or represented enough.
• Virtual adultery?
• How amazingly cheap, easy and fun a Zoom wedding can be.
• Online dance lessons? Including unpartnered.
• How relationship-oriented businesses such as Match and eHarmony have changed their advertising to continue promoting their product. I saw a commercial the other night from one of the major matchmaking services that showed a couple they had matched up on their first date, chatting over Zoom while doing performative cooking for each other.
• How we have a great opportunity to refine and practice the tools for safe sex conversations because everyone is having those conversations about vaccinating, quarantining and even quarantine pods now.
• Examples of how the pandemic has socially and culturally isolated people (at almost every level) creating an abyss of opportunity to meet, develop relationships, fall in love. Sports, festivals, art, music events, religious/spiritual events, school/university, regular civic, nonprofit, associations — nothing to bring us together for the chance of love. Gone. Or examples of no place to go to clubs, concerts, not even bars or community centers. How about encounters where people meet, are attracted, but are afraid of getting COVID? You can hardly have sex with masks on or? What is that like?
• How pets and porn are replacing men and women respectively.
• Hookup culture during COVID (do people have sex with masks, screen potential partners for how “safe” they’ve been, etc…), breaking up with a live-in partner or divorcing during COVID and trauma bonding.
• And long distance relationships during COVID.
• Loving yourself in isolation.
• How about an imagined perfect-enough date? (story idea:-)
• As Kanye West said, “got that love lockdown…” I got married during the pandemic and would love to read stories of others that did the same.
• More so than pandemic isolation, I’m sure those of us who aren’t single have lots of stories about our spouses driving us crazy during quarantine and desperately need some good ideas about keeping things from overwhelming us. Maybe a piece about creating personal space in 1,000 square feet? ????
• And for the teens…
• Something on an infatuation with bird watching and bird mating. Some have great dances.
• I hear the sale of sex toys has been booming during the pandemic. Seriously. ???? ????
• Watching film/TV try to figure out what to do is interesting — in terms of safe production, as well as in terms of storyline/subject. There’s at least one limited series and one film (set in Portland) that are about this.
• Oh damn. You don’t want to hear my pandemic dating stories. They will make people never want to date again????????????????????????
• How well older queer men were prepared for pandemic mode. Because of, well, another pandemic?
• I’m not a relationship person per-se, either. But once in a while I like to enjoy the company of others. So I have my regular COVID go-tos. Just a couple of people I’ve known for years, who are also in the same position and still trying to adhere to general COVID sanctions. The proximity garners trust, familiarity makes it safe, expectations are clear, and it’s fairly simple. You don’t need to read Dan Savage to know how that goes. LOL. ????
• How about something on women fake-dating Proud Boys, etc. to turn them in for storming the Capitol?
• I wonder if the department of health glory hole promotion caught on?
• One of the things my husband and I feel really fortunate for is that we spend most of our time together and have done so for quite a few years now. We have seen folks who are long-termers with separate careers struggle when retirement suddenly puts them together all the time — conscious harmony takes practice! We’ve been wondering how couples whose time is suddenly spent together by COVID are doing, what new patterns emerge in relationships.
• Baby boom nine months after initial lockdown (December 2020) then drought by February when everyone’s sick of each other and unemployed so can’t afford to have said potential babies.
• Love on the internet. Virtual dates. When my husband was working in Saudi Arabia, we took extravagant virtual vacations to all sorts of places. One of us would plan the trip with links to what we would see and do and include all the photos we would take on the trip. A whiskey tour of Scotland, an Under the Tuscan Sun trip to Italy… I got very strange looks from friends one evening when I said I had to dash because I needed to be in Greece in 30 minutes. ????
• I think the pandemic has been clarifying in terms of what we DO love. Who we give our energy to, be it the friends that we make the effort to stay in contact with, or the careful choices about “pods.” It has shown us who we really have a hard time living without.
• Write about love, the authentic, messy, sweatpant clad, simple way we show up for other creatures. It doesn’t have to be romantic.
• I’m very curious what the sex party people are doing in lockdown!
• How COVID has created a new layer of “safer sex” dialogue in dating, especially in poly relationships. The amount of consent language that now needs to happen to help everyone feel safe is laborious. It also creates a sweetness when people truly honor and respect each other.
• Should you post your COVID status on your Tinder profile?
• How short relationships are suddenly serious. My brother went from a first Tinder date to a monogamous relationship within two weeks (for obvious health reasons!) then all the sudden since lockdown they have spent every holiday together, Thanksgiving, Christmas, NYE, etc. is this love, or is it COVID? Haha ???? ????