Is there such a thing as a "corona boyfriend" or 'girlfriend' to help one get through this crisis? If there is, then most of us singletons better brace for heartbreaks. Especially me, a woman who has decided to throw caution to the wind and take a nosedive into a new relationship.
I might be jumping the gun calling it a relationship, but what do you call daily audio and video calls between two people attracted to each other? We don't only talk life and theories in these calls, we do life together. He would be cooking as I watch him or I would be braiding my hair while listening to him via a WhatsApp call. We would talk till the wee hours of the morning and finish with a prayer together before falling into our beds.
The falling out
But something seems to be a miss. Lately I have become argumentative. I no longer laugh at his lame jokes nor bother to understand his allusions. I find his world views backward and coated with African patriarchy. His tendency to burst into a song triggered by a word I said no longer holds its appeal. Sleep has once again become my comfort in this self-isolation time; I can no longer stay awake on the phone with him into the wee hours of the morning. And I have noticed, he has started to pull back.
This is how thirty-something, and looking for love looks like. It grabs at a spark of love but easily fans out the feelings. Before I got to the big 3-0, I had the mother of all heartbreaks. I got on my feet after a long time and moved on, quoting my neighbour's framed mantra 'only fools fall in love once'. Eight years later, I can't stand the words.
For close to a decade, I have been left with a bill after a date, kissed by a stinking mouth, stood up for a whole week, sexually abused, blackmailed and the repetitive of all, blue ticked. Without my knowledge, unbothered with getting my permission, my heart became rock hard. Even Labyrinth couldn't climb over it.
I was doing me. Indulging in Netflix, watching YouTube and drooling over chiseled spring chicken on TikTok with my fellow millenniums when I got the push to join Tinder – I think all singles have had this from the 'concerned' circle of friend.
Like most Kenyans, I am critical of online dating, in fact on my first chat an acquaintance told me I am only likely to get hookups on Tinder. I am not a horny toad but I do enjoy looking at sexy men, and indulging in a useless talk (so not true). Who would have known that it is on this online Sodom and Gomorrah that my heart will come alive?
It was the extremes that got my attention, the ones with questionable characters and crazy fetishes. They appeased my boredom with their shocking and sometimes nasty way of living.
I didn't judge, I wanted to be shocked away. It was during this dark self-indulging period that Alex came along. His baggage was light, his words moved to corners of my mind and heart that had been clogged, his laughter was infectious and his charm rather worldly. A simple honest to God good guy.
Two weeks on, and I was getting addicted to the sound of his voice and I longed for the day he will be drowning in my love. Suddenly, I was feeling desperate and lonely. Too scared to own it, I started building the walls he had torn down.
How can I be in love in such a short time? Why do I hold my breath when he laughs? Am I coming in too strong? Even if he has already planned out our date once we can move about, what if he's different in person? What if all those stories about pooping turned him off?
What if he is hiding something huge from me? What if he is shorter than me? And on and on my mind goes into self-sabotage.
We are now like old friends; we know a lot about each other. He has already met some of my family members – albeit online- and remembers them by name and their details.
He calls me a beautiful being and likes alluding to himself as my husband. I want to call him my boyfriend, but my girlfriends say the jury is still out.
My best friend is going through the same. She is catching feelings for a man that she was introduced to by a mutual friend. Good thing, she is not crazy like me and hasn't written about him in a daily newspaper. It's a case of the blind leading the blind.
I am looking forward to moving from spending time virtually to being physically present in each other's life. Until then, I plan to stop with the fear and enjoy my corona love.
TIPS FOR DATING DURING THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS
1. Don't force yourself to use dating apps right now: If dating apps don't fit into your life right now, don't force it. Just take some time off. Finding a partner isn't some sort of assignment you have to complete right now.
We're not operating with normal energy in a crisis. Do not hold yourself to this idea that because you technically, on paper, have more time, then you are more productive or you can focus more. This isn't the same units of time we're used to.
2. Embrace the real you: Image is an undeniable aspect of virtual dating. So what do you do if you want to create a profile with your best face forward, but don't have the usual resources? If you are thinking of social distancing, going to the salon is going to be a no-no, so having a makeover done is not that plausible.
While there's nothing wrong with wanting to look your best, consider the double standard. Women are held to such a disgustingly higher standard that like now you still have to maintain, untold levels of hotness. It might sound sappy, but this is also an opportunity to embrace a more authentic version of yourself. Maybe now is a good time to be like, 'This is what I actually look like.'
3. Be honest and direct: You can get a good idea of chemistry through a video chat. So if everything is going well — you feel comfortable and there are no signs of caginess —be honest about not knowing how to proceed. Ask him because he's probably thinking the same thing. It's entirely possible that he's thinking like, 'Oh, how are we going to move through this?' And who knows, maybe he has an answer.’ It just ultimately comes down to is it worth it to you?
4. Give yourself some extra grace right now: This is an evergreen tip for anything pandemic-related: Be easy on yourself. Forgive yourself. This is a hard time. You might not get it all right.