Love it or hate it? We’re all in lockdown. Some of us lucky enough, or maybe not so lucky, are isolating with our significant other and others, like myself, are recreating that opening scene of Bridget Jones’ Diary, penguin pyjamas and all. However, this article is not for the smug and instead for those, in true Bridget style, whose only major relationship in lockdown has been with a bottle of Pinot Grigio and two blokes called Ben and Jerry- yes, these two items now count as an essential food shop. As for the article, it is well and truly the epitome of taking advice from someone who knows sod all about the subject- but don’t worry I have actually done some research and got opinions from ‘real’ people, some of those professionals in the field.
Where better place to start than… Hinge- Londoner’s answer to Cilla Black. Hinge is essentially the love child of Tinder and Match.com- combining Tinder’s narcissistic, looks-based formula alongside Match.com’s almost top-trump style fact file, Hinge enables its users to form a pretty good impression of Max from Maida Vale before even matching (also, it is FREE, which makes a change cause let’s face it from the moment you breath in London you have already spent a fiver). But the question is, is Hinge standing the test of lockdown and are all us singletons still bothering to trawl through the endless waves of the city’s top single surveyors and stockbrokers. So, it only seemed correct to contact Hinge and get some actual statistics of what is really going on behind closed doors. When it came to getting a response, it was almost as easy as half the men on the app and certainly a lot easier than having to form an email pretending I had not the foggiest about its new ‘Date from Home’ feature. After managing to obtain a statement from Hinge, it turns out that there has been “a 30% increase in messages among users this past March (compared to January and February)” and as for the ‘Date from Home’ feature, “70% of Hinge users expressed interest in going on digital dates” however it appears first date nerves kicked in with “a third of users” stating “many conversations died before they were able to make that ask”- provoking the question, are we actually interested in dating at this time or just bored between the breaks of trashy daytime telly.
Introducing Olivia Foster… a real human, who lives in London and is single- essentially you who is reading this article and still waiting for some advice from someone in the same ‘singleton’ boat. “I’ve had a look on the apps on and off during this period, however, I’ve definitely not been hugely focused on it”, was Olivia’s response to dating in this current time, which definitely supports my statement that maybe we are just bored but more to the point since we are not able to meet “there's the potential in a time like this, where all you can do is chat, for things to become stilted after a while and you can ruin what could have been a great connection by just chit chatting for weeks on end.” was Olivia’s reasoning for being not so enthusiastic about the usual rigmarole of online dating. With it looking like remaining single being our best match in this time, then how can we ignore all those smug couples doing ‘PE with Joe’ together every morning and sharing their countless Instagram stories of ‘Baking Banana Bread with Bæ’. Fear not, we are actually luckier than we think as research suggests that “single, childless women are the happiest subsection of people in the world” and Olivia told me “most of the best experiences of my life have been without a partner”. But how does she remain so positive in a world full of ‘Magda and Jeremys’’ (read Bridget Jones because to be honest that’s the only advice you need) - “my main advice would be to look on the bright side, indulge in being able to be totally focused on yourself, doing whatever you want to do, eat what you want to eat, watch what you want to watch and don't focus on what you feel you don't have.”
But what about those of us maybe the missing the equivocal nature of dating and having the ability to pick and choose from an array of tempting dates across the city. It’s like tapas. You can order plenty of small, noncommittal plates to keep your options open but let’s be real plenty of those dates, like Tapas from a dodgy little Mediterranean on Columbia road, can have a rather unsavoury effect. Nonetheless, that is part of the trials and tribulations of dating and now it can be enjoyed Deliveroo style from the comfort of your own home. Navigating the new ‘normal’ of dating is a tricky one, but from Netflix Party to Zoom quizzes there are plenty of fun and inventive ways to still enjoy dating and on the plus side there is no waiting for the night tube home. As for the more intimate side of dating, I managed to get in touch with a professional- Dr Earim Chaundry, the Medical Director of leading men’s wellness platform ‘Manual’. Dr Earim Chaundry told us “Sexting and sending nude photos online to a partner is a controversial topic at best. With concerns around privacy and consent, starting or maintaining an intimate relationship online should be approached with caution. Your partner’s privacy is paramount. Not only because it's the right thing to do, but because it’s illegal to distribute pornographic content without consent.” However, he did reiterate that sexual intimacy is essential for bonding with a romantic partner and this should not be discredited during lockdown.
Conclusively, I feel the ideal way to sum up this article is by reiterating something that Olivia told me- “being single should never be seen as a bad thing”. Not exactly ground breaking but something that we need to remind ourselves, because although it may seem Ben and Becky downstairs have it all, they have not spoken for two days and are secretly both wishing they had the option of tapas.