Adjusting to lockdown dating in the 'new normal'

For LGBT+ people used to the ease and immediacy of hook-up apps, readjusting to social distancing can be a challenge.

A bearded man in a white shirt looks out a window while holding a mobile phone

We live in a world of instant gratification where everything from food to flip-flops is at our fingertips. Dating and hook-up culture has become as easy as ordering a takeaway. But in the “new normal” of lockdown, everything has changed, and for some gay people, our struggle to connect is real.

The gamification of dating apps in recent years makes it easy to swipe right on someone you like but equally, it’s as easy for them, the gaming aspect of such apps bypasses their intended function. But now, with little to no contact with the outside world, we’ve had to rely on conversation. A quick chat won’t equal a date. A monosyllabic invite won’t result in a hook-up. In unprecedented times, we’re having to get to know the person behind those carefully selected (and usually edited) pictures.

It’s reminiscent of a time without apps, where you’d chat up a guy or girl at the bar and go on a date a few days later. There’s the social dance of the “hi, how are you”, followed by a deeper, more probing conversation that sees us delve into each other’s worlds and use our phones to build a connection with someone other than the four walls behind which we find ourselves.

I’ve found myself reading through the profiles of guys more carefully than I would have previously. Indeed, we’re all guilty of the hard-and-fast swipe, but, cut off from the outside world, there’s only so much you can talk about with friends and family. Social distancing and lockdown consumes our lives and the escapist nature of dating apps lures us towards the promise of a relationship – be it friendship or something more.

As a pole dancer and amateur baker, I’ve found myself matching with other pole dancers and travellers, chatting about everything from my dream of seeing Reykjavík this year to the headstands I’ve been practising in my garden. That connection to somebody else – somewhere else – from a different background is a hugely positive and empowering thing while we wait and watch what happens in the world. The connections I’ve made – even if short and fleeting – are helping me to overcome an increasingly challenging time. It doesn’t matter if they’re a pole dancer or a baker; all that matters to me is that they have a voice. If they open up and share their interests, that’s a starting point, and anything after that is a bonus.

Talking helps. Using dating apps like Tinder has helped me temporarily retreat from fatalistic headlines and mile-long queues for my local supermarket. In this new way of life, we need to look after ourselves and do what gets us through the day. For me, that’s been making connections with other guys. I’m not concerned with labelling what it is because, right now, that little bit of human connection is helping me through lockdown.

Christopher is a freelance editor and marketer. He has previously lectured on the MA in Publishing course at the University of Central Lancashire. He is also an author. His debut book – Fall Out– publishes on June 18 2020. You connect with him at @YAfictionados on Twitter.

© 2020 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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