By Derya Yildirim
Oh Covid-19, Coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, besides the loomingly increasing death toll and the global economic downfall, you’ve been a blessing in disguise. From showing us the power of the people during times of injustice, to revealing politicians’ inadequacy as people in positions of power; you have turned our world upside down as we know it. More importantly, our current supply of banana bread satisfies all global demand until at least 2054! Don’t worry, I am no anomaly. I too have been seduced by my oven on multiple occasions. In, out, in, out – ah, the arousing motion of my baking dish.
Fortunately, like many of us, I was blessed with more than just a culinary romance. I experienced what I can only call ‘reverse dating’. You know, what you do when a global pandemic forces you to abandon all real-life social interactions in favour of its digitized counterpart (i.e. Zoom), and shelter with a (not-so-)significant other in order to smother the mental consequences of loneliness. That reverse dating.
This type of dating goes against all the preachings of dating coaches and relationship columnists alive. Building a solid foundation of trust? Gauging one’s intentions through careful observation? Letting the passage of time reveal the nature of the relationship? Completely irrelevant during a pandemic. While I, with my sanity intact, would carefully weigh out the pro’s and con’s (using mind maps, charts, and astrology when necessary), consult friends from all walks of life, and sanitize my lust by reciting verses from holy books, desperate times call for desperate measures. I have reverted to my Neanderthal ways: ones that are likely to prompt exclusion out of any tribe given my lack of survival instincts.
Despite me beating myself up for my non-traditional relationship timeline, being quarantined with my date cemented our bond. By accelerating past the stage of courting, fancy dates, and ‘good morning beautiful’ text messages, and somersaulting into the possible cesspit that is living with a partner, we were forced to see each other for who we truly were. By taking away all the shiny material things a novel relationship offers, we were left staring at each other’s eye crusts and morning dribbles. It’s during this time that – under normal circumstances – the mystery, romance, and spontaneity of any relationship diminishes and things slowly turn into a rut.
But, given the ‘unprecedented times’ we were facing, we had to innovate to keep (what essentially still was) the ‘dating phase’, alive. It’s incredible what the human brain can come up with when all external sources of fun are stripped away from you. During this quarantine, me and my date-turned-boyfriend tried everything under the sun to have fun at home. Cooking, watching TV shows, dice games (???), ‘get to know each other’ games, turning the household into a shisha bar, working out, bullying neighbours…etc. You name it, we’ve done it. Crises create oddly strong bonds, and ours was (fortunately) no exception.
Yet, the odds were stacked against us. The probability that our new quarantine relationship failed was obviously much higher than that of it succeeding. We saw each other’s flaws, we were together 24/7, and arguments arose left, right, and center. Luckily for us, no eyes have been gouged out and our nails are still intact. Contrary to popular belief, I can pat my ego into submission and allow for honest and vulnerable dialogue.
Truth is, being in lockdown together can either foster a deeper sense of intimacy, or fast-track your relationship to its rapid demise. There is no inbetween.
The beauty of reverse dating is that, post-quarantine, the dating stage (re)commences, as the excitement of being able to visit other places takes over. But this shift in scenery entails a different set of ‘issues’: while in lockdown the two of you only spent time with each other, normal life involves a social life beyond you and your significant other’s relationship. Additionally, quality time spent with each other post-lockdown may not compare to the hours on end spent with each other during lockdown. Last, but definitely the furthest away from least, the threat of other men and women becomes ever-present.
This makes me wonder…can quarantine-born-and-bred relationships emerge out the other end successfully? Could it be that these relationships are akin to summer flings: romance that seems too good to be true in certain circumstances, but rapidly fades when life goes back to normal? Can such relationships survive amidst the noise that is reintroduced once we can venture out into the world again?
So far, my success in the realm of reverse dating is ongoing. The restrictions are slowly easing in Europe and figments of our previous life are making an appearance. The romantic spark between me and my boyfriend is still twinkling, normal life isn’t that threatening, and the future looks promising. While I can’t speak for everyone’s quarantine relationship, one thing is for sure: these new-wave pandemic romances are bound to go down as part of history.
Derya is a 21-year old girl who has recently graduated with BSc Business Administration from the University of Amsterdam. In her free time she enjoys people watching, making uncalled for sarcastic comments, and writing satirical cultural commentaries to relieve bottled-up frustrations. In the future, she hopes to pursue a career in (digital) marketing, yet otherwise remain unchanged by the passage of time. Follow her journey on Instagram (@d.e.r.y.a).