Casual sex is a hallmark of university culture and, even in the midst of a pandemic, isn’t going away anytime soon. Instead of shaming the people sleeping around, we should acknowledge that casual sex might be a symptom of the loneliness we’re all experiencing right now.
Having multiple partners has suddenly become a dangerous endeavour, if only because it increases the risk of getting COVID-19. Yet dating app usage has only increased with the pandemic. It might not be safe, but there will always be people willing to take that risk.
Of course, there’s a safe way to date during the pandemic: limit your partners and encourage a dialogue about what precautions you’ve been taking against the virus. In doing so, you not only keep yourself safe, but those around you safe too.
Unfortunately, it’s unlikely everyone will take these precautions, but that doesn’t mean we should be shaming the people seeking out Tinder connections. The pandemic has been isolating for everyone, and wanting to hook up is likely just a symptom of that loneliness.
We need to deal with this loneliness in a healthier way than making reckless decisions. Normalizing masturbation is a good start, but seeking out mental health resources is especially important.
Queen’s prominent hook-up culture is also to blame. University dons dole out more condoms than mental health resources in first year, which could normalize feelings of loneliness.
Pressures to find a relationship could also be contributing to casual sex occurrences. With fears of a second wave on the rise, anyone who spent quarantine by themselves could be searching for someone to ease that isolation.
There are countless reasons why people are still engaging in casual sex, and we shouldn’t judge or shame anyone for it. That said, if you’re spending time on Tinder right now, please be safe. Limit the number of partners you have. Ask potential dates what precautions they’re taking to stay safe. Seek out mental health resources when you feel alone, whether that be a friend or a therapist.
Most importantly, if you develop symptoms, stay home.
There doesn’t have to be two extremes—either stay home, or completely flout the rules—when it comes to the pandemic. You can walk a middle ground, too, taking care of your needs while still being safe.
Casual sex is here to stay. We can’t change that fact, but we can encourage safe sex practices and engage in dialogues about loneliness. It’s a weird time to be making connections, but like everything else in our lives right now, we have to adapt.
—Journal Editorial Board