Can love stories begin during a pandemic or is it a minefield?

Colette Sheridan looks at the 'dating rules' people now have to navigate during the pandemic
Can love stories begin during a pandemic or is it a minefield?

Were people forced to have the ‘Covid’ talk before sex, like you would a talk about STDs?, asks Colette Sheridan.

STOCKING up on toilet paper and fretting about diminishing supplies from the supermarket are just some of the clichés associated with the early days of Covid-19, as portrayed on a really brilliant BBC TV drama last week, entitledTogether.

But this wasn’t a nostalgia-fest about baking banana bread and clapping and clanging saucepan lids in appreciation of frontline health workers. It was about something far more pertinent — namely, a relationship in what seemed like its dying days.

If you’re lucky enough to have a significant other who actually enhances your life and has made all the lockdowns tolerable — or even enjoyable as the two of you planted vegetables for the first time — spare a thought for couples that are at war with each other.

Whereas before, a verbal explosion would be followed by slamming the front door as one of you ventured out to meet a sympathetic friend, the pandemic meant that the two of you were stuck at home together. The claustrophobic nature of this kind of existence was palpable in Together. The couple, referred to only as ‘he’ and ‘she’ descended into rigorous truth-telling in which they spoke of their hatred for each other.

“You are horrible to me, every day,” he said to her.

“But I never despise you,” he added.

He also said of his partner that she always looked down her nose at him. She works with a charity, supporting refugees whereas he was involved in private enterprise before he had to close down his company.

She is a virtue signaller whereas he is blunt and bitter having come up the hard way unlike his middle-class partner whose father was a dentist. All this is the stuff of resentment.

Inevitably, the couple’s politics rears its troublesome head. She’s a lefty, he’s mostly conservative. It’s more grounds for aggro. But sniping about politics is a luxury given that as the drama plays out, her elderly mother dies from Covid, in a care home. This is where it gets very serious. The grieving daughter believes her mother was actually killed. The care home was supposed to be a safe place for her mother. The elderly were shuttled into care homes from hospitals in the UK because of the pandemic. But the care homes were often not safe havens after all.

Living with that knowledge and being in a shaky relationship makes life particularly miserable for the female character in ‘Together.’ The drama is a good ad for the solitary life. Who would want to be in a relationship in which insults are constantly hurled back and forth and cruelty is to the fore? (There is no physical violence in this drama.) Spare a thought for women (and some men) subjected to domestic violence during Covid.

And yet, relationships continue to be sought out, even during a pandemic. 

At the best of times, romantic entanglements are a minefield in which you try to read the other person’s motivations and in the heady early days, you are blind to their flaws.

Now, with the spectre of Covid never far away, there are dating rules such as checking out local transmission rates if you plan on meeting up in person. Presumably, early on in the encounter, you will state your vaccination status.

What did people do before they were vaccinated? Wear a mask during sex? Is that really a thing? People would have to have the ‘Covid talk,’ a bit like having the talk about STDs and the like. Ultimately, you can’t have sex six feet apart, making it a high risk activity before having the jab. It puts going for a jag into a whole new light. Whereas before, all you had to worry about was having a bad hair day, now you have to negotiate health matters. Would you be bothered?

Dating via video calls is a growing trend. Tinder has introduced a Face-to-Face video-calling feature that allows users to connect visually. Facebook has launched a dating service around the world, including in this country.

I’ve noticed quite a few men sending me friend requests on Facebook. Unlike most friend requests, these guys and I don’t have any mutual friends. Three of them described themselves as ‘widows’. They meant ‘widowers’ but maybe they’re either educationally sub-normal or English isn’t their first language. In any case, these guys looked like models, not real bog standard men at all.

They’re fronts for no doubt dodgy blokes who have their eye on a scam, targeting single women who might be grateful for a bit of male attention.

They’re wasting their time with me. The photograph of a Richard Gere lookalike in an open topped convertible just made me laugh.

Get off the stage, lads, and get a life! Us women have enough on our plates without being scammed.

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