My friend Lisa, 41, agrees. “Covid has meant a pleasant return to old-fashioned dating – more getting to know the other person before jumping into bed,” she reports. However, she adds: “Dating is becoming more interview-like. I’ve started looking for people who will be good partners for six months rather than potentially for life. While previously I would be holding out to meet a successful, confident, outgoing partner, now I’m just looking for someone who has the same TV and takeaway taste as me.”
In London, my friend Donna, 37, has been putting in the Covid coupling hours too. “I’ve been dating around since June in the hope of finding myself a lockdown boyfriend, since I live alone – but it hasn’t happened,” she says. “While I’m looking for someone with whom to cook big meals, watch movies and have good sex, every man I’ve met still wants to just talk about the time they did the Three Peaks Challenge and go on adventures with. I do feel they’re missing the point.”
Maybe it’s time to adjust the attributes we’re showcasing in our profiles accordingly. You love to travel? Great – I did too, but what’s your Scrabble like? Never mind the marathons, can you make a decent carrot soup? Do you own a dog? Your own flat? Writing this, I’ve just realised that I need to urgently update my dating profile with a shot of my private outdoor terrace, with its firepit.
The (significantly) younger guy I’ve been seeing lately is a big fan of the terrace, and understandably so – he lives alone in a studio apartment, with no outdoor space. Ordinarily, I’d be a bit put off by the fact he doesn’t ski – the thing I like to spend most of my winter doing – but not this year. He doesn’t like dancing in public – my second favourite sport – but no risk of that any time soon either. Also, pleasingly this guy is a hot nerd, who offers free, 24/7 tech support when Zoom keeps crashing my MacBook.
Some friends, meanwhile, have given up on dating entirely, citing the risk of infection and the pressure of starting a relationship that is largely sofa-focused. “The energy I would usually expend on dating, I feel, is better saved for self-preservation and my friends, who I trust more than some random love interest,” reports my friend Elizabeth, 34.
Others have chosen to ‘Covid couple’ with more loyal and dependable creatures. I checked in with an old London fling, who spent the spring lockdown dating outdoors, with walks on Hampstead Heath and picnics by the canal. This winter, however, he’s more into ruffing than cuffing – the only woman sharing his sofa this season is his new chocolate Labrador puppy.