Navigating the Wild World of Flirting and Dating in the Lockdown
While the world stood still, we slid into DMs. That girl who likes a few of your posts and whose story you react to sometimes. That guy you met once and accepted on Facebook. The serpent of temptation takes the form of the bright green light beside their names, seducing you out of your peaceful but boring garden to explore the uncharted world of quarantine relationship-building.
Catching a Catch on Social Media
The thing about quarantines is they afford you the unusual luxury of knowing where everybody is and what they’re doing—at home and nothing. Unfortunately, that means you, too, are at home doing nothing. But not for long! Maybe you cast your net wide with a sweaty workout video you’re sure will get some replies. Maybe you’re more of a spearfisher, sending messages to your best prospects. Sometimes you’re a fish, mindlessly swimming through a sea of content, waiting for a net you’ll, oops!, swim into or that spear you’ve had your eye on to finally penetrate you.
The quarantine is going strong but your budding relationship is going stronger. Story reacts turn into meme exchanges turn into playlist recommendations turn into sporadic conversations until they break out of the slums of Instagram DMs and into the exclusive, gated buildings of iMessage, WhatsApp, and Telegram. It feels like being invited to your date’s place after a night out.
Reading Clues Without Physical Cues
It must be the combination of all the free time, the isolation, and the novelty. Conversations flow. There’s so much to talk about! Is it easier to express yourself online? Who cares. That’s the only way you can express yourself now. You’re starting to look forward to their replies, but you never have to wait too long. You do your research on what they’re into. It seems they’re doing the same. Why it took a pandemic for you to hit each other up, you don’t know. This must be love in the time of corona.
Lack of physical cues makes things confusing but exciting. Was that a sexual innuendo? Should you send one back? You send screenshots to your friends to check. Are they talking to other people the way they're talking to you? (Yes.) If you can’t see each other, what’s the next step? Is there a next step or are you happy to march in place? Where is this going?
Leaving Things on Read
All these and whatever other questions your psycho cooped-up self has conjured are answered by the slow release of the world into life after lockdown. Quarantine regulations ease. Work picks back up. You can see your friends again. Maybe you realize it first or maybe they do, but it becomes clear that it took a pandemic for you to hit each other up because you’re only interesting to each other when there’s no other interesting thing around. Against the regular current of your normal life, you simply can’t be bothered to go fishing or be fished.
One of you leaves the other on read. But he likes your latest post. She sends you a song on DMs but nothing else. You heart it. He watches your story but doesn’t react (you only kinda posted it for him). You scroll up your conversation. Yes, you said that. Yup, she said that, too. Now, cold and curt replies fade into silence. It’s not a problem. You’ve both been here before. Will you talk about it if you see each other in the real world? What’s there to say? It was just a quarantine thing.