id-way through this third lockdown something inside us flipped, changing us — maybe forever. In November, we were cheerily chirping “just a month”, now we’re walking around dead behind the eyes, possessed by the dystopian image of 2025 rolling around with Whitty addressing us through the living room TV about the Svalbard variant. And so us single millennials have given up on dating altogether.
Actually, that’s not quite true: every few weeks, we shake ourselves for not doing anything about our impending infertility, log on again only to brush our fingers through watery, beige profiles filled with humblebrags and musings about wanting someone to do Sunday pub walks with — before logging out, vowing never to return again.
During lockdown the best we can hope for dating-wise is a pen pal — if we wanted sporadic updates on someone who only eats and sleeps and occasionally goes for a walk, we’d have adopted a rhino. And don’t suggest a Zoom date — we’re already mainlining Nurofen for our screen-induced migraines.
Pre-Covid, we millennials had reached an understanding that, apart from rendering finding a sleeping partner part of the on-demand economy, online dating was just a numbers game. Most are duds, but if you meet enough people you will eventually hit the G — sorry, jackpot — it’s like applying for a job.
But January has left us fragile. Rather than a five per cent chance of chemistry on a date, we’d rather speak to a friend and have a 100 per cent chance of an enjoyable conversation. Covid makes you choose between that which you love and could love — even when things eased up in the summer, friends forgoed courting a stranger if it meant they couldn’t see a vulnerable parent. Increasingly, we wonder why, even when things were normal, we bothered investing time in fellas we’d never met. Or which you can substitute for, given 2020 vibrator sales.
Not that this wasn’t a long time coming. In the years leading up to Covid, norms were changing for single women. We were finally the financially-Independent Women Destiny’s Child dreamed of, and realised that worst case, we’d have plenty of childless friends to cat-pool with. But this last year it’s gone next level; we’ve locked down in the echo chamber of feminist Instagram, educating each other on prenups the way we once did cervical smears, scrolling through #dumphim quotes and tagging friends in memes of performatively-woke blokes on dates (you know it’s bad when even the “feminist” guys don’t stand a chance).
Our expectations have changed because the men we saw most in 2020 were moist-eyed Connell, and the HD-ab aristocrats of Bridgerton. You have to wonder whether we’ll be willing to date real-life guys when all this is over.
MY MUM Tracy Beaker — a follow-up to the original show which aired 20 years ago, and featuring Tracy as a 30-something mother — premieres tomorrow on CBBC. It’s prompted excitement from my generation on social media, nostalgic for the time when our mum and dad told us everything would be okay, and we believed them. I wish they rebooted the other TV shows of our youth. My favourite was Get Your Own Back — where one lucky kid got the chance to dunk their least-favourite adult in gunge — it would be more satisfactory justice than that dispensed by town hall magistrates.
Pravina Rudra is Junior Comment Editor at the Telegraph. She tweets @Pravina_R