Aside from spending my student loan on clothes that TikTok told me to buy, making 47 cups of tea a day and attempting to distract myself from the invasive prospect that all of my social skills are definitely now gone, my lockdown has been filled with doing anything possible to kill the boredom.
My distractions started small: taking three showers a day just for the change of scenery, or heading out on multiple power walks across town with my headphones in as soon as I found a new ‘00s Bad Bitch Playlist 💅’ on Spotify. Basically, anything possible to squeeze the last drops of serotonin out of my system and avoid all my college work.
This constant running from mundanity has inevitably translated into many of our romantic lives. Pre lockdown, I wasn’t a massive texter. If I was speaking to a guy I liked, I would try and organize a way to meet, or let things fizzle out. It should come as no surprise that after a year of being locked inside, that attitudes towards texting and attachment have changed. However, I wasn’t prepared for just how much my entire approach to dating had shifted.
A text or DM was no longer a subtle sign of interest or platform for making plans, but the place to entirely get to know someone. I went from rarely ever texting to replying while I stir boiling pasta, voicenoting on my way to work and FaceTiming in the evening. Lockdown and boredom had clouded my mind, and before long, I was devoting large portions of my day to communicating with people I didn’t actually know that well.
Kate*, 19 from Manchester agrees: “It’s actually quite scary to think that I nearly got into a relationship during quarantine, purely out of convenience.” Living away from home in university accommodation, Kate began to start seeing a guy who lived in the same building as her. “At first, it was loads of fun. All of my uni work was online and pubs were shut – it was so exciting to have someone interested in me and we could text / bump into each other loads. Eventually when things started to open up again we saw more of each other face to face and it was just so different. I realized how many red flags I had overlooked.”
The issue with starting and continuing a relationship over digital platforms is that it becomes difficult to separate an online persona from the person in question. Instagram photos merge with appearances and we only get the opportunity to view people in their own ‘best light’ instead of reality. We all know that appearances on social media are deceiving at best and toxic at worst, so why have so many of us chosen to ignore this over the pandemic?
“As daily practices went out of the window, chatting to someone during lockdown became a rare point of consistency”
For 23-year-old Ellen, it was all about wishful thinking. After a far from ideal first year out of university, she found herself eager to believe that there was light at the end of the tunnel. “I had gotten into such a negative pattern of thinking during the pandemic, everything seemed so bleak. When I started chatting to this guy I met on Hinge way more than I normally would, I started to focus on the really great things about him and completely ignore everything else. I think I really just wanted something to romanticize.”
For others, this shift has been focussed around routine. As daily practices went out of the window and the concept of ‘normality’ became more fluid than ever, chatting to someone during lockdown became a rare point of consistency.
18-year-old Ella from Dublin agrees: “Everything has been so mad this year. My lectures have changed from online to in-person so many times and it all seems to be a constant state of unknown. I spoke to this guy at the beginning of lockdown literally all day every day. I’m pretty glad it’s over now because I don’t want to be dependent on someone else for consistency.”
In a field of dating like no other, it can become easy to rely on another person for excitement, a steady routine or validation. However, as lockdown lifts and an element of normality returns to our lives, it is time to also lift the rose tinted glasses that have come from spending months inside. Reassert boundaries, hold yourself accountable to your standards and don’t ignore red flags. No matter how great someone is, truly healthy routines and excitement come from your own actions, not someone else’s place in your life. After all, if they can’t meet these standards, hot girl summer is calling your name.