#onlinedating | Asking for a Friend: dating while stuck at home | Arts & Culture | #bumble | #tinder | #pof


Submit your anonymous sex and relationships questions to Em Chan here. 

“Asking on behalf of the class of 2020: How does one go about dating when they are unemployed and stuck living at home with their parents for the foreseeable future?”

— Stuck and uncertain 


Dear Stuck,

Honestly, I’m in the same boat and have been asking myself the same question. However, I think with the pandemic and political chaos, perhaps you should be asking yourself this instead: Do you even want to date right now? 

As appealing and fun as it is to be on dating apps, casually meeting new people, also ask yourself what you’re looking for if you choose to date. Sure, companionship is nice, but with a pandemic that’s prevented us from physically seeing some of our closest friends and family members, perhaps it’s time to reconsider our approaches and intentions with relationships. I’ll give you two lines of thought to consider, each relating to the current situation our world is in.

For one: In the U.S. alone, there have been over 110,000 deaths from COVID-19. The idea of going on dates and meeting people is virtually impossible. Now, we’re limited to either tentative encounters in person or online dates. Regardless of if you’re connecting over dating apps or social media platforms, there’s a lot about people we can’t really gather unless we’re in person.

Also, there’s the fact that this is such a serious virus that many have lost their loved ones within short times of contracting it. I only mention this somber statement because I’ve heard many sentiments about regretting the lack of time spent with the people who have passed. So perhaps choosing to invest your energy into improving the relationships with the people already present in your life may be an alternative to dating. 

On the other hand, one of the few benefits that quarantine has provided is forcing people to evaluate themselves. Before the pandemic, like I’ve addressed in my column about what to do when stuck at home alone, if you wanted to run away from problems you could literally go out and avoid them. Now, you can’t. Have you considered the possibility that dating right now has replaced the need to go out and find distractions? Might this just be another way to sidestep personal issues? 

One of the most frequent pieces of advice I’ve received from older people, especially those still employed, is to make the best of this time, particularly because finding employment is difficult. If you’re thinking of this period as a time to wait for “things to return to normal” and biding your time for change, I’m sorry to say that this is our new normal. The time to reevaluate yourself, your values, what you’re looking for in the future and all those other deep questions is right now.

As our unexpected spring term comes to an end, perhaps what would be most helpful is to recenter your energy and focus on yourself. With schoolwork, it’s easy to put aside your health while putting your nose to the grindstone. Taking a break and not immediately jumping into more work makes this a good time to pause and consider what you really want from life and how to make that happen in this changing time. Whether it’s doing side projects or just relaxing, cut yourself some slack — we’re in a literal pandemic.

On the topic of changing times, I would be remiss to not address the recent Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd and the U.S.’s long, long history of police brutality and white supremacist violence. Nationwide turmoil has forced people to reconsider crucial aspects of identity and privilege.

As people are grappling with understanding racism and figuring out what their values are and how to stand up for them, there’s still a lot of people unsure of their place and position. When there is still so much to think about for ourselves, in my opinion it is not an ideal time to be looking for a partner. Learning and struggling with these hard topics takes a lot of energy, and perhaps channeling it into figuring ourselves out can be more productive than pursuing new relationships in the face of this national issue. 

If you are still set on dating, the only viable (and safe) avenue is through dating apps. Even though some states are loosening restrictions for social gatherings, I strongly encourage you to avoid in-person dates for the sake of public health.  If the generations before us could keep relationships alive by talking on the phone for hours or checking their mailboxes every day, I’m confident love that is meant to find us will find us. Conventional dating typically allows for a lot of small talk in the beginning as a pleasantry, but now that we’re stuck with primarily talking, those pleasantries are greatly reduced since most of us are still primarily at home. With that in mind, it’s a great opportunity to have deeper conversations earlier on since we’re also within the safe confines of our homes, rather than a neutral space like a restaurant or cafe. 

To make meaningful connections, I think it’s safe to say that honesty and vulnerability are key in this chaotic time. It’s understandable that many college students or recent graduates may be unemployed and still living at home. The beginning of the pandemic took a toll on many industries, with many still affected to this day. Being able to be honest and accept this situation as not ideal can become a shared experience as you meet others, and inevitably become a connecting point. In this economy, there is no shame in saving money by living with parents as there are currently over 30 million people that are unemployed.

At the end of the day, this situation will eventually evolve. For as long as there have been disasters, people have still been able to find meaningful connections and love. Rather than thinking of the current situation as a crutch, keep in mind that if you and a potential partner can weather the storm of uncertainty we’re all in now, maybe they’re a partner worth keeping around for life. 

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