Pro: he’s an engineer, so he’s mega handy at DIY.
Con: that laugh could potentially get v. annoying over time.
Pro: he has his own place, so we wouldn’t only be trapped at mine.
Con: his place is smaller than my place and the other side of London. How could I get there if the trains stop?
Pro: we have a laugh.
Con: see point two about laughing.
On any given first date, in any given city, with any given combination of singles, similar lists to these run racer-speed through the minds of those sat opposite each other. The fact that they’re not quite as tall as their profile said they were balanced precariously next to the fact that they’re actually a lot cuter IRL than their WhatsApp picture. But, as someone who has been single and proactively dating now for (whisper it), nearly 18 months, I can tell you something different is afoot. Something I have not yet encountered, and which I’m almost certain is a direct result of the dumpster-fire that is 2020 thus far. I’m calling it ‘Coving Season’.
You might have read or heard about ‘cuffing season’, the phenomenon where people start speedily coupling up around October in order to have someone to hibernate with for the cold, dark winter months. These relationships generally last until March, when anthropologically speaking, all the ‘cuffed’ people shake off the shackles of the Netflix-and-selection-box love nests they have created and go forth into Spring as a single entity.
Well, ‘Coving Season’ is like Cuffing Season on speed. Because right now, we’re not just looking for someone to snuggle with over winter. We’re essentially interviewing people as possible candidates for co-isolation. I noticed it first when a guy I’d been seeing very casually for a couple of months broke it off. It wasn’t a surprise. I’d had my reservations, I was just too busy and too optimistic to pull the trigger myself. Plus we got on. We’re still friends, happily so in fact. The chemistry just wasn’t there. And yet… I felt the hard lump of sadness and panic in my stomach.
“Why?” I reasoned with my friends. I wasn’t even that into it. My reaction made no sense. “But… he had the loveliest house,” I admitted, quietly to my best mate. “And a garden. And his cat was so cute! He was so good at building stuff. And he had a car.”
"Single people should just turn their dating app bios into pre-apocalypse dating Top Trumps"
I had unwittingly fallen not for the guy, but for all the trappings one needs to survive the co-pocalypse. The very things I realised that were lacking from my life when lockdown hit the first time (other than a boyfriend of course): a pet, outside space, any practical skill whatsoever, a means of transport other than my own feet. This guy had the lot, I had hit the pandemic-dating-jackpot. And then it ended, and I was back to square one.
In the weeks that followed that micro-rejection - something that would normally slide off me like water but, because of the impending doom of the next few months, got under my skin and festered – there was a certain franticness to my swiping. I amped up the number of dates I went on a week, and with each new person I found myself looking at them not just as a potential suitor (yes, I also live in 1813, thanks for asking), but as a potential lockdown buddy too.
After all, things around me were and are changing. The temperature is dropping. The news is getting bleaker again. Lockdown measures are already starting to creep back in. We didn’t know what was in store for us last time, but this time we know. And last time we got to do it going into summer, at least. Add to that the clocks changing and the weather about to make it harder to meet, eat and exercise outdoors and is it any wonder single people everywhere are starting to panic? Give it a few more weeks and I think online dating will become a game of musical chairs where, when the music stops, you just need to lock yourself down with whoever you’re sitting on at the time.
Which is why I’m starting to feel that all single people should just start turning their dating app bios into pre-apocalypse dating Top Trumps, things which say at a glance what you could bring to the next six months of potential isolation. Names, ages, heights and whether you like the beach or mountains should be replaced with your home internet speed, whether you have a Now TV or Sky package, and your proximity to a supermarket. Extra matches will be awarded to those with their own mode of transport (backies on bikes do not count) and a spare room for when one of you needs to go and scream into a pillow.
"I love my own company. I’ve just had my fill of it for this year."
“You just need to learn to like your own company” is the refrain those who didn’t spend lockdown alone talking to their house plants tend to fall back on when I have voiced this train of thought recently. Ordinarily I’d say that’s great advice. And the thing is, I (and I’m sure many singles like me) love my own company. I’ve just had my fill of it for this year. I’ve reached my quota. You know how you can only absorb so much goodness from vitamin supplements and then you piss out the rest? Yeh. That’s how I feel about my own company.
Plus, while absorbing five solid months of my own company, I realised that sometimes you need the company of someone else as a counterpoint, just to remember how great you really are. It's the 'if a tree falls in the forest and no one’s there to hear it’ paradigm. Except this time it's: if you make a really great meal or crack a really excellent joke at the TV and no one is there to appreciate it, did it count?
These are all philosophical questions I will be taking into my next round of Coving Season dating. Wish me luck!