Love, Laments And Lockdown!

Veera is a published Author (‘Endured’ and ‘#LoveBitesLifeHacks’) and Columnist; a passionate Educator and Counsellor; Poet and Philosopher… but most of all, a lover of all things literary.

Decidedly, love, as a feeling or emotional state, is complicated, confusing, exasperating enough… but add to the mix, a pandemic of the coronavirus proportion, and we are distinctly headed for the evolvement of a new kind of romance! The state of affairs (pun intended) at present is in a new kind of disarray. By early March, it became noticeable that people were practising physical distancing. People weren’t shaking hands or hugging anymore, and this somehow changed the dating game completely, so the cultural norms… flip-flopped. And when the restrictions increased and the uncertainty mounted, it became, “Well, you don’t want to be around anyone you don’t know!” 

Enter the scenario of virtual dating! There’s been a surge of new memberships on dating sites, dating apps. Video calls, though, are definitely the most favoured instrument of romance these days. Speed-dating via Zoom chats and House-party is a great place to now hang…  almost like a cafe in the days preceding lockdown; evidently a lot more brews there, in addition to your home-made coffee – Nespresso! After all, these chat rooms are perfect places to loop in and enjoy hangout sessions, with friends or prospective dating interests.  

In turn, the mushrooming of dating sites, with this lockdown has singles seeking romance, getting unusually bold, creative and colourful! Younger users of such virtual dating platform are a lot more open to using the features and experimenting with this whole new aspect of dating, having sort of grown up on the Snapchat culture and things like that! It was probably already part of their normal behaviour and dating culture! If you’re already doing it with friends, it’s not a huge stretch to imagine doing it with a potential dater as well… desperate times call for desperate measures!

 The same cannot be said of singles in their 40’s and above, a face-to-face is a preferred mode of communication or straight out chemistry. If you cannot touch and see a prospective match, it sort of defeats the entire purpose of dating and developing intimacy. It’s a relationship they seek and not just a hook up, for the most part. Couples now forced out of their usual dating routines, under the legislations of lockdowns, are finding workarounds to the strict laws. Catch-ups at grocery stores, a random meet at the local pharmacy, the vegetable and fruit vendors – the new matchmakers of our times! The tough social distancing rules make it pretty hard to connect with people in our lives, let alone new ones! 

For single people looking to date this time is particularly tough. The coronavirus hit a lot of our new-age dating bunnies that soon realised that it could interfere with their robust dating game. Suddenly, this 1.5 meters distance has created weirdness between people and especially those on dates, where the primary reason is to connect, touch and share intimacy with another. Add masks and gloves and it’s a new level of bizarre! The purpose of most dating is that flirty touch and look! Looking like a member of a notorious terrorist group for the better part of a date certainly does nothing for romance!  For daters and couples in relationships, who are used to the more, ahem, physical side of dating, the prospect of no physical affection may mean putting their passion on ice! As for others who still want to make a connect , the options are simple, you may don your Lycra and joggers and continue to get to know each other  either while walking your way – 1.5 metres apart, or miles away, together on a video call. 

The pandemic is straining our health, our pay checks and certainly our romantic relationships. Everyone is struggling on some level. All kinds of people, in different stages of a relationship – dating couples, live-in partners, or those living together apart, married couples, well couples across all age groups. This is a challenging time for most, but the real challenge however, is for those couples who are married or in live-in relationships, never have the words, ‘for better or worse, in sickness and in health, till death do us part’, rung more true! The adversity of the lockdown and this enforced isolation is proving to be an emotional magnifier. 

Being cooped up at home with your significant other may have started out as fun, but what seemed as a romantic stay-in honeymoon in the initial days of lockdown, could well turn into an episode from ‘How To Get Away With Murder’ soon! With spouses and whole families staying together, on top of each other, it’s not just challenging, but downright tedious. And then you have those #couple goals handles posted frequently by celebrities, wannabes and such, making it all seem so easy and picture perfect…  whipping up cakes, no makeup, no sweat, while the  lot of us, combat the beastly weather on  the one hand and the beast of workload on the other… left with broken nails, frizzy hair, frazzled nerves and a bedraggled appearance all day!!!

This whole cooking with Nigella Lawson or Jamie Oliver thing is not helping at all. It’s one thing to feel focused and useful but pre-empt a man’s regularly scheduled meals as per your fancy really doesn’t work. Sacred routines of cereals or smoothies, now supplemented daily with pancakes and waffles, neither bode well with all that additional weight nor the wastage every time the culinary experimentation fails. Between those face packs and herbal masks indoors and the surgical ones outdoors, love and romance seem to have flown out the window for the moment!!

As familiar routines are disrupted, this spousal lockdown can feel viscerally excruciating. Confined proximity makes our world microscopic. And like bugs and other specimen, spouses, viewed under its lens constantly, have flaws and imperfections suddenly and glaringly magnified. Wanting to squash irritating bugs from time to time, seems a perfectly understandable human urge. Irritations fester over how one or the other partner eats, chews, breathes, sleeps and generally just goes about their business. Add children to the mix and it’s likely to explode. 

This is a challenging time for marriages and relationships. Many couples feel the stress of being confined together, the time spent together a harsh experience especially for young, professional women and men, who, prior to the lockdown somehow managed to juggle their work, home and love  interest  (together, separately,  separately- together or together- separately but all in all) rather skilfully. While some are restricted with their extra-marital dalliances, the fact is there are a large number of us  who decidedly enjoyed our extra-familial affairs like a boys’ night out or a ladies lunch, a game, a sport, a movie night, like to come and go as we so desire, not wanting to be confined or restricted. 

Having such an ample degree of freedom is a valuable and treasured asset and the reluctance and outright refusal to relinquish it has been put under the hammer with the lockdown in place. The stress of being cooped up together for an indefinite period simply amplifies the fault lines that already exist in relationships. Add those ill- gotten face-lines, stress related wrinkles and creases, and suddenly there is a whole new dimension to unattractiveness not helped by all this close proximity. How marriages fare will soon be gauged; a spike in divorces or a spike in the coronial (babies born in the period of the lockdown)…   either way, you’ll have your answer soon!  

Veera Shroff Sanjana
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