Love in the Time of Corona

By Katie Sweeney

Illustration by Camellia Neri.

Love: During shelter-in-place, are singles doomed to remain alone?

Like many San Franciscans, I started 2020 with a positive outlook. A new decade meant new opportunities, and a new year required new resolutions. “This year is my year,” I thought. “I’m going to meet The One. I’m going to manifest love!” Then a virus called corona hit and everything came to a stifling halt — including my happy thoughts about dating. While sitting on the couch in my childhood home, wearing sweatpants and no makeup, worried all of my loved ones were going to get sick and die, I idly began browsing men on Hinge — swiping left, left, left. “Now is not the time for love,” I thought. “No one is going to be dating during a pandemic. Or are they?” According to Rori Sassoon, a dating expert and the founder of VIP match-making service Platinum Poire, “human connection is still alive during this corona crisis. Believe it or not, people are going crazy and thinking they need to meet someone.”

Sassoon recently launched the Pear Club, a virtual extension of Platinum Poire, at a lower price point, to meet the demand of people looking for love amid shelter-in-place. “Virtual dating is different than dating in real life because you don’t have a choice — you need to get to know the person and see if your connection has sustainability,” she explains.

Dating expert Rori Sassoon. (Iris Lei)

After soliciting friends’ feedback on Facebook, I discover that Sassoon is correct. Singles are looking to connect and find companionship more than ever. Plus, people are stuck at home with nothing to do and suddenly have tons of time and no excuses to flake. “Because of this quarantine, I’m more open,” San Francisco-based recruiter Heather says. Heather is currently dating someone she met several weeks ago after the City was put on lockdown. Their relationship began on Hinge, moved to text and continues via FaceTime. For their first date, they both ordered takeout from the same restaurant and enjoyed it together virtually. “I would have never FaceTimed with anyone, ever, had this not have been the circumstance.”

For interior designer Dylan, the significant difference between dating now and BC (before corona) is the lack of alcohol. “I’m used to going to a bar, where a drink is involved,” she says. “Now, the first date is a social distance date. We went on a walk and did not touch. It was interesting to be on a first date without any alcohol.”

No alcohol and not being able to touch means that people are getting to know each other slowly and thoroughly sober, which could be an upside to these surreal times. Penelope, an attorney, met her quarantine lover for the first time at a picnic where they accidentally came in contact with each other. “At one point, we were both gesturing with our hands, and our fingertips touched,” she says. “It sent a shock through me, in a good way— another person hadn’t touched me in weeks. We both gasped, mostly due to the inadvertent contact forbidden by social distancing rules.”

All three women agree that their corona relationships are moving faster than a normal courtship would. “This unusual time lets us be a little more open and honest more quickly,” Penelope explains. “Right now, there is no excuse not to respond to someone since we are all at home with our phones in our hands.”

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