Dating Is Better During Quarantine, and It Doesn’t Have to Change

Before COVID-19, Vaneet’s dating life was “pretty much non-existent.”

“Asking people out IRL only led to rejection,” the 28-year-old says. “Apps were just a constant stream of being ghosted. It was exhausting, and I practically gave up dating.”

While most of us have been going through unbearable dry spells and deeply missing human touch, Vaneet and other singles have been reveling in the changes coronavirus has brought to the dating scene, including the curtailing of hookup culture for the sake of public health. (Even now, as parts of the country begin to reopen in various phases, we should still proceed with caution when meeting up with strangers.)

“Hookup culture has never been my thing, and while I don’t like one-night-stands, I’ve found it difficult to find anything beyond that,” Vaneet says.

Not anymore. At the beginning of quarantine, Vaneet met someone he liked on Grindr, the popular hookup app for queer men. Men typically use the app to meet up for sex, but now, a lot of guys are using it to chat with each other. Since Vaneet and his partner couldn’t meet up when they started messaging, they’ve had the pleasure of getting to know each other without the pressure of sex on the table—something that almost certainly wouldn’t have happened before COVID-19. Vaneet texts them every day, and they have date nights at least once a week on Zoom. They’ll make a plan to meet up whenever it feels safe; maybe then they’ll have sex, or maybe they’ll keep on getting to know each other.

Since the pandemic began, some people are happy they haven’t had to travel 40 minutes (or more) by train to a bad or mediocre date, and that they’ve saved a bunch of cash instead of spending it on dinner, drinks, and a movie. But the forging of deeper connections with the downfall of hookup culture is one of the biggest reasons people say they’ve appreciated the COVID-19 dating experience.

Before the pandemic, Eden, 28, says she “didn’t like the speed at which dating progressed.” Usually, within minutes of messaging a guy on Hinge, he would ask to meet up.

“I just don’t like that,” she says. “Let me get to know you first.”

Now, she’s been getting to know men better. Their conversations are deeper. She talks about her childhood, her past romantic experiences, and what she’s looking for in a relationship.

These are important topics for potential partners to discuss, and quarantine naturally brings it out of us, according to Shadeen Francis, LMFT.

“Superficial conversations are likely not going to be enough for a ‘quarantine bae,’ as it is hard to build or maintain a long-distance connection without vulnerable communication,” she says. In other words, if you’re not having meaningful conversations with someone, you’re going to get bored or lose interest. And of course, building a relationship from personal and meaningful conversations leads to a personal and meaningful relationship.

Oscar Wong

For Gregory, 29, the universal challenge of the past few months has made it refreshingly easy to be vulnerable with people. For the first time in a long time, it’s socially acceptable to reply to “How are you doing?” with “Well, to be honest, not great.”

“Now that we have all gone through the collective trauma of COVID-19, and the more recent Black Lives Matter movement, we’ve been given the opportunity to really examine our biases, and that has made us more vulnerable and more likely to be done with putting up facades,” Gregory says.

Of course, dates can also be fun, he adds: “You can bond over the shared trauma of COVID-19, or scream about how insane the MollyIssa feud is on Insecure, or somewhere in between.”

This content is imported from {embed-name}. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

It’s unclear whether this slowed down process of getting to know another on a more personal and sincere level will continue when the world officially opens up. While we’re incredibly adaptive for our survival, we’re also creatures of habit, Francis says—which is why she predicts many of us will return to our old patterns of behavior.

“As effective as any coping or survival strategy might have been, if folks do not consider it a long-term lifestyle change they are wanting to invest their energy into, then they will return to their regularly scheduled programming,” she says.

Still, that doesn’t have to be the case for everyone. Vaneet is cautiously optimistic about transitioning into dating post-coronavirus, hoping people will be more willing to give him a chance and get to know him on a deeper level.

“I hope the pandemic has stressed the importance of human interaction,” he says. “Maybe people will be more willing to give others a chance and get to know someone more first. And maybe, just maybe, more people will be willing to shoot their shot and see what happens.”

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

My new book, Angel with a Broken Wing is now for sale on Amazon!

 

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

Instagram: @phicklephilly    Facebook: phicklephilly    Twitter: @phicklephilly

Breaking Up With Your Partner While Social Distancing Might Be Your Only Option

Adversity has a way of making or breaking relationships, highlighting problems, and pushing couples to their limits. Now, imagine adding the pressure of being unable to walk away from someone while your relationship is under duress, or taking the space you need to think through your conflict. If you’re considering breaking up with your partner while social distancing, isolation may have lead to the realization that you and your SO are not in it for the long-haul. And you’d rather end the relationship than spend one more second listening to each other chew, even if you’re currently stuck together.

Karla, 26, tells Bustle that social distancing took her relationship from casual to serious overnight, and it ended up being a dealbreaker. “Everything was great — we were going on day trips and playing board games and meeting each other’s friends,” she says. “Then, all of a sudden, coronavirus anxiety began, and we went from getting to know each other to date.”

After a couple days of cohabitation, I couldn’t stand him.

While self-isolating as a unit sounded like a good idea at first, Karla quickly realized she wasn’t ready for a live-in partner. Instead of enjoying their company, she felt overwhelmed and annoyed, craving privacy. “It was so much so fast,” she says, “and after a couple days of cohabitation, I couldn’t stand him.”

Eventually, she decided to call things off, and the two parted ways. “Had this not happened, we would’ve still been getting to know each other and having our distance while still enjoying each other’s company,” Karla says. “There’s a time and place for everything, and this just came far too soon for such a young relationship.”

Outside of a global pandemic, any number of drastic changes to your everyday routine has the potential to become a relationship stressor — starting a new job, moving to a new place, adjusting to a new schedule. When you’re already negotiating the chaos of an overwhelming shift in your day-to-day life, small problems can feel like big ones.

“As people #flattenthecurve, we may be forced to spend considerably more time with each other,” Danni Zhang, psychologist and managing director of New Vision Psychology, previously told Bustle. “It’s not uncommon for one person in a relationship to start thinking of getting out of said relationship.” Zhang emphasizes the importance of weighing whether you’re experiencing a dead-end or weathering temporary stress.

“Coronavirus has run the gamut of emotions in our relationship over the last couple of weeks,” Danielle, 33, tells Bustle. She and her husband of five years made it halfway through the second week of social distancing together, before they needed to establish a few quarantine rules in order to keep the peace.

The two made an agreement that, at least once a week, they’d part ways and enjoy a little alone time — relaxing in separate rooms, going for solo walks, and cooking alone for a much-needed respite. “Communicating how we are feeling without judgment has also been very important,” Danielle says. “Even though we are together, having time and space of our own is necessary, and allows that time together to be more valued.”

For couples on edge, Zhang suggests listing out the reasons why you love your partner in order to shift attention away from their habits that have got you on edge. But not all couples feel the investment is worth digging in their heels. Once they got a glimpse into their future together, they were ready to jump ship — even if that only meant moving from the bedroom to the couch.

“I’m fairly certain living together too soon was what pushed us to break up,” Karla says.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

Buy Phicklephilly THE BOOK now available on Amazon!

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

Instagram: @phicklephilly    Facebook: phicklephilly    Twitter: @phicklephilly

5 Changes To Expect In The Workplace After COVID-19

As a result of the coronavirus, the workplace will never be the same. Even the word “workplace” suddenly seems obsolete, as the physical location in which we now work has merged with the places in which we eat, sleep, learn, exercise, and play.

The COVID-19 crisis has created the ultimate “burning platform”—an unexpected, overnight opportunity for people to see the impact of swift and meaningful change, and to witness the negative consequences of trying to ignore this aberration from everyday life. Within organizations, the virus has been driving significant change in how their employees operate with each other, as well as with clients, customers, and vendors. Now that companies are shifting past their immediate response to the crisis, we’ve entered into a temporary “new normal.”

However, what will the long-term impacts of our new normal be on the world of work?

Winning organizations will be those that integrate and master digital work, community, and collaboration. To succeed, companies need to begin planning now for five key shifts:

1. Full digital transformation, supported by a truly virtual workforce

Companies have quickly figured out how to serve their customers and clients remotely, and there’s no going back. From telemedicine in hospitals to remote learning for public schools and streaming fitness classes, every industry has accelerated its own digital transformation. As a result, the demand for highly skilled remote workers will continue to increase.

With a surge of candidates in the market, organizations should be preparing to recruit and integrate these key individuals into the organization quickly and seamlessly, so they can capitalize on the cost savings and broader access to rockstar talent.

2. Focus on outputs versus face time

Being the first one in the office and the last one to leave is no longer a measure of commitment and performance. In a post-COVID-19 world, employees will be measured on what gets done and the value of their work rather than on the individual tasks and the time it takes to get the work done.

Leaders must provide crisp, outcome-driven expectations so that their people can deliver on goals successfully. Motivating employees to perform will require modeling and measurement of their outputs and being clear on those metrics. Companies must level-set expectations for what drives organizational priorities and goals, rather than discrete tasks.

3. Respect for work-life blend

More than ever before, companies are recognizing that working “nine to five” is unsuited to the demands of a modern workforce. If leaders can place greater emphasis on flexibility for people to accomplish their best work—when and how it meets their personal needs (as well as the needs of the company)—they can reinforce the cultural shift of measuring staff based on performance, which can result in exponential benefits for the organization.

Organizations must remove stigma and support employees’ needs to make time for self-care–including exercise, meals, and family time. Policies and procedures need to reflect these shifts, and leaders must model a true work-life blend so that it becomes part of the company culture.

4. Stronger communications

Now that companies have gone fully virtual, individuals are communicating more efficiently and more frequently across a networked environment. To do this well, everyone, at every level, must make opportunities for dialogue by employing numerous channels.

Leaders can make communication easier for their people. They can remove roadblocks, create a governance structure that pushes decision-making out and down, and provide employees with the tools and training they need to empower them for ongoing communication and local decision-making. With traditional hierarchies gone, true leaders must step up to facilitate information flow across the organization.

5. Increased trust, transparency, and empathy

We are witnessing a revolution in leadership. In a recent leadership study of Fortune 500 executives and entrepreneurs, respondents cited behaviors such as humility and listening skills as essential qualities of great change leaders. And leadership experts such as Kim Scott and Brené Brown have long proselytized about the importance of candor and vulnerability. Now, leaders and employees must understand and support each other like never before. People are sharing more about their personal situations with colleagues, and as a result, they are creating an expectation of humanity, active listening, support, and connection.

Leaders that demonstrate these qualities and publicly recognize excellence in their people will earn greater trust and loyalty from their employees. Leaders who seize this mindset now will be better prepared to engage employees for the long term, regardless of the external environment.

If there’s one thing everyone can agree on, it’s that COVID-19 is driving change in our behaviors, and the workplace is no exception. To begin shifting our idea of what’s possible in the workforce after the curve flattens, leaders must take hold of what’s working today and integrate it quickly into the everyday. Rather than waiting for reentry and being reactive, leaders need to prepare, setting expectations for the ways of working that will benefit the organization down the road, so employees can focus on the strategic business priorities of the future.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

Buy my new book, Angel with a Broken Wing on Amazon!

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

Instagram: @phicklephilly    Facebook: phicklephilly    Twitter: @phicklephilly

Will Your Love Last Past The Pandemic? How To Tell If You’re Being Coronazoned

Your Co-Star is telling you to “embrace the now with grace,” but you’ve been wearing the same sweatpants for three days and forget what going outside feels like. The good news? Your coronavirus crush is coming along swimmingly: You’ve texted back and forth, exchanged a few nudes, and even discussed how nice it would be if you could social distance together. But there’s a slight catch: Whenever you bring up the prospect of going on an actual date in the real world, you get left on read. How will your love last past quarantine?

Friend, if this is happening to you, you might be getting coronazoned.

The pandemic-pegged cousin of “friendzoning”, coronazoning can be defined as engaging in flirty, romantic, and/or sexual conversation with someone you have no intention of dating once social-distancing is over, solely because self-isolation is leaving you bored and lonely.

And like getting friendzoned, it absolutely sucks.

If you’re worried your COVID-19 courtship won’t make it past incubation, here are five signs you might be getting coronazoned.

1. They’re more interested in your pet than your personality.

While I’m sure your rare fish is amazing, if your crush is more interested in getting cute videos of your dog eating peanut butter out of the container than getting to know you, they’re probably not in it for the long haul.

“People seek relationships during high-stress times to serve as a means of escape in different ways,” Pricilla Martinez, founder of Regroop Online Life Coaching, tells Bustle.

Listen, spending all day talking about coronavirus can be exhausting, and it’s natural to need a reprieve (or a flood of funny videos). But if your crush only asks to see pictures of your pussy cat (I’m talking about your actual cat) and changes the subject whenever you bring up how worried you are about your grandparents? You, my dear, should call the zoning board — Because you’re likely getting coronazoned.

2. They’ll vent all day about their roommate Kyle but never ask about your life.

When an entire week’s worth of conversation is comprised of you listening to them vent about their roommate doing CrossFit in the living room and quelling their fears of never going to Coachella again, you may be getting coronazoned.

“Given the high level of stress and anxiety with the pandemic issues, it’s absolutely natural to feel scared and confused” Dr. Carla Marie Manly, clinical psychologist and author of Joy from Fear, tells Bustle.

As Manley shares, you don’t have to be a water sign to need a little extra emotional support right now. Still, if you find yourself constantly comforting your crush and they’ve never asked how you’re coping, it may be time to reevaluate.

In short: if you’re feeling like your crush’s therapist, parent, and life coach named Zelda, you’re probably in the zone. The coronazone.

3. They only hit you up between lunch & 6:00 p.m.

Long gone are the days of late-night booty calls and last call-inspired hookups. As bars and restaurants close their doors, and more and more people are working from home, it seems like everyone is looking for someone — anyone — to exchange breakout room small talk with. Consider a 1:00 p.m., “What’s up?!” to be the quarantine edition of a 1:00 a.m., “U up?”

While it’s nice to have someone to schmooze with during the day, if you’re looking for a long-term relationship, and your crush just needs someone to G-Chat on their work-from-home lunch break, you’re probably getting coronazoned.

4. When you try to hold eye contact over Zoom, they angle their camera at their crotch.

If you and your date are both seeking some temporary comfort or excitement, getting virtually frisky can be a major stress reliever. However, per Dr. Manly, “if one person is hoping for a long-term reconnection, and the other is seeking temporary comfort — not addressing this discrepancy can lead to hurt feelings, confusion, and anger,”

Sexting just to sext can be flipping amazing. Turning up the heat over FaceTime for one night? You love to see it. But if you’re looking for a deep connection and your date just wants you to sit on their Face(Time), you might not be on the same page about what you’re looking for on the other side of self-isolation.

5. Their phone dies every time you mention making post-quarantine plans.

You and your new boo don’t need to commit to each other for life. But when you ask your quarantine crush if they’d like to grab a drink whenever bars reopen, and they respond, “Oh no! My phone battery is about to die!” (or, better yet, don’t respond at all), you’re likely getting a socially distant snubbing.

“It’s important to be intentional about what this looks like after the stressful period,” Jaclyn Lopez Witmer, licensed clinical psychologist at Therapy Group of NYC, tells Bustle. “Agreement on expectations and needs is critical.”

If your quarantine crush is always bailing on your FaceTime dates, has never asked about life outside your apartment, and takes days to respond to your DMs, they’re probably not as invested in your happiness as you are in theirs. You deserve someone that’s going to prioritize you — during a global pandemic and every other damn day.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

My new book, Angel with a Broken Wing publishes of Amazon June 20th!

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

Instagram: @phicklephilly    Facebook: phicklephilly    Twitter: @phicklephilly

Feeling Calm During The Coronavirus Pandemic Is A Valid Reaction, Experts Say

The news is full of advice on how to stay calm during the coronavirus pandemic — but what if, actually, you’ve been feeling pretty OK? Psychologists say that keeping your cool isn’t an inappropriate reaction to what’s going on right now, even if you feel like everyone around you is in panicking. People who feel less rattled than they think they should might be reacting in line with their temperament, their experience with previous traumas, and their overall panic levels over time.

“While the impact of coronavirus is global, the reactions are decidedly individual,” Dr. Gregory Nawalanic M.D., a clinical psychologist with the University of Kansas Health System, tells Bustle. “There is no specifically ‘right’ way to respond to a pandemic.” A person’s reactions to extreme situations tend to moderate over time, and you may feel more relaxed now if you were initially very worried. “The folks who initially panicked trend toward a calmer space of acceptance, in the same way that those who initially dismissed the potential impact will trend toward activated understanding,” he says. Or so we hope.

Some people are also inherently calmer than others in the face of threats or anxiety-provoking events. “Everyone has their own innate temperament, how they are wired, so to speak,” Dr. Nadia E. Charguia M.D., a psychiatrist with the Department of Psychiatry at University of North Carolina Health, tells Bustle. “We all are on a spectrum when it comes to our character traits,” she says.

A woman bakes bread at home. If you're feeling calm during the coronavirus pandemic, experts say that's okay
miljko/E+/Getty Images

You may also be finding some aspects of isolation soothing, especially if you’re introverted by nature. “The reduced interactions, and not needing to be ‘on our top game’ socially, can give us a sense of safety, familiarity, and calmness,” Dr. Joshua Klapow Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, tells Bustle. “We are reminded that we can be in our pajamas, take off our shoes and sit in our favorite chair.” The familiar things in your environment can be really effective in calming you down.

Previous experience with trauma can also make people more chill. “Many people have had prior exposure to highly stressed situations, and as a result, may no longer exhibit a stressed, strained or anxious response,” Dr. Charguia says. If any part of this experience feels familiar,  you may feel more relaxed about living through it.

That said, some people might be feeling extra calm because they’re repressing their anxiety. Dr. Nawalanic says that if you’ve been feeling oddly detached or unemotional, your anxiety might be manifesting itself in other ways, like mood swings, sleep problems, depression, or strain in your relationships. If you’re repressing your feelings about coronavirus, he says, it’s likely they might bubble up after the situation is resolved, and you could start feeling really anxious once lockdown is over.

“Those who appear strangely calm in the face of loss and hardship right now might be more in need of mental health support than those who are appropriately acknowledging and expressing their feelings,” Dr. Nawalanic says. If you’re concerned that your no-worries demeanor is covering up deeper feelings, talk to a supportive person in your life, or try reaching out to a therapist.

If you’re feeling pretty OK about things right now, though, try not to stress about it — some people just deal with upheaval in their own, calm way.

If you or someone you know is seeking help for mental health concerns, visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website, or call 1-800-950-NAMI(6264). For confidential treatment referrals, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website, or call the National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP(4357). In an emergency, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or call 911.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

Buy Phicklephilly THE BOOK now available on Amazon!

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

Instagram: @phicklephilly    Facebook: phicklephilly    Twitter: @phicklephilly

PMDD Flares During The Coronavirus Pandemic Can Add Stress, Experts Say

My period came on time this month, which was a surprise. What wasn’t a surprise, however, was the return of all of the symptoms — paranoia, anxiety, drowsiness, aching boobs, brain fog, and extreme restlessness — that I get when I’m having a premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) flare-up. PMDD is a mood disorder that feels like the most extreme premenstrual syndrome (PMS) to the point of suicidal ideation. Like many people living with PMDD, I have coping mechanisms that help me manage it. But with the arrival of COVID-19 and my state’s shelter in place order, they all went out the window.

Outside of these “unprecedented times,” I use a combination of Prozac, regular exercise, eating (relatively) balanced meals, avoiding added sugar, and not drinking much to keep my symptoms in check. Since the shelter in place order, my meals are more strongly influenced by which cans I haven’t opened yet than what’s on the food pyramid, and my regular walks outside have been replaced with anxious pacing around my living room. I quickly learned that my pandemic coping mechanisms run exactly opposite to the ways I deal with PMDD: I’m eating chicken nuggets and mac and cheese like a five year old, drinking too much, not exercising enough, and spending days without leaving the house. As a result, this menstrual cycle featured two weeks of rollercoaster emotions, aching breasts, disrupted sleep, and irritability.

“The current global pandemic and the significant impact this is having on everyone’s lives and sense of wellbeing would likely cause an exacerbation of symptoms for people with PMDD,” Dr. Andrea Chisholm, M.D., an OB/GYN and expert in PMDD, tells Bustle. “The sense of uncertainty, loss, and fear and the social isolation and disruption of routine are even significantly impacting people who do not have a preexisting mood disorder. People with PMDD or other mood disorders are especially vulnerable during this time.”

Brett Buchert, the director of care and support at the International Association of Premenstrual Disorders (IAPMD), has been able to largely maintain the self-care routine that keeps her symptoms in check. But even with regular therapy, eating balanced meals, and continuing to exercise, she’s had a rougher month than usual.

“When my ovulation days hit, I was sobbing,” Buchert tells phicklephilly. “I felt like I wasn’t even upset about anything in particular — I was just so upset. I think it was because there’s been so much stress, for me and for the world, and that needed to come out.”

One of Buchert’s roles at IAPMD is providing peer support to other people with PMDD. This month, she says there’s been a noticeable uptick in members who reached out for help.

“I was speaking on peer support with a single mom with two small children,” Buchert says. “When her symptoms come, she usually takes them to the park and lets them play so she can break down in the car. That’s very relatable — that’s what happens. But it’s just not available to her right now. So what does she do? Not having those things that get us through the worst moments can be really scary.”

Mar, 33, has found that mandated social distancing has actually eased her symptoms. “I am an introvert, so social distancing is actually helping me keep grounded,” Mar tells Bustle. “I live with people I love who also understand the illness, so I do not have to pretend that I’m OK. And that gives me peace.” While she usually experiences extreme emotional and physical effects during the luteal phase of her cycle, this month she says she only had two days of hypersomnia (extreme drowsiness) and poor physical coordination.

For me, the main goal is to get back to my typical PMDD-helping habits— at least the ones that are still viable while social distancing — as soon as my period is over and my estrogen starts to rise again. I’m also reminding myself that even though we all keep talking about the “new normal,” this is not my new normal.

“It’s helpful for me to know that this is a difficult time, so it makes sense to me if I feel worse than usual,” Buchert says. “We have to give ourselves some grace. We’re still doing well — and we’ll recover.”

If you or someone you know is seeking help for mental health concerns, visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website, or call 1-800-950-NAMI(6264). For confidential treatment referrals, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website, or call the National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP(4357). In an emergency, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or call 911.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

Buy Phicklephilly THE BOOK now available on Amazon!

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

Instagram: @phicklephilly    Facebook: phicklephilly    Twitter: @phicklephilly

60 Conversation Starters For Dating Apps During The Coronavirus Pandemic

Though you can’t go out for drinks, your love life is still open for business. As more and more people hunker down in their homes, hitting it off with a new match can be just one click away. While the grocery store may be out of toilet paper, rest assured, there’s no shortage of conversation starters for dating apps during the coronavirus pandemic.

According to Jaclyn Lopez Witmer, licensed clinical psychologist at Therapy Group of NYC, while it’s important to remain informed about the spread of coronavirus, it can also be beneficial for your mental health to talk to about other things, too.

“Focus on aspects of your life that are going well and that you feel you have some control over,”Lopez Witmer tells Bustle. “Part of staying healthy is maintaining connection, intimacy, and sex. These things boost mood and help release those feel-good hormones in our brains!”

If you just made the best coconut chicken curry or can’t stop learning all the TikTok dances, bonding with your crush about random topics other than the virus can help you both relieve some COVID-19-induced anxiety.

Here are 60 ways to start a conversation with a new match during a global pandemic.

PeopleImages/E+/Getty Images

Rather Than: “Hey”

1. What’s your go-to quarantine outfit?

2. Tell me about the best meal you’ve cooked so far.

3. So, what’s the most annoying thing your roommate has done since quarantine began?

4. Have you started any new projects or hobbies?

5. What made you laugh today?

6. When’s the last time you called your family?

7. What was the highlight of your day? Mine was walking from the kitchen to my living room.

8. I’ve rearranged the furniture in my room three times. What indoor activities have you been up to?

9. I keep a phone charger in the living room and another one in my bedroom, so I don’t have to go back and forth when my phone dies. What’s your best quarantine life-hack?

10. OK, I am attempting to make my own cold brew. Stay tuned.

11. You’re lucky you caught me, I’ve been unbelievably busy these days, with all the TV-watching and pajama-wearing.

12. Settle a debate: My roommates are wondering if a cheese quesadilla can be considered a meal or a snack?

13. Does swiping through this dating app count as “indoor exercise”?

14. What’s the most impulsive thing you’ve done during quarantine? I cut my own hair last week, and we’re not going to talk about it.

15. My roommate’s cat has been giving me life these past weeks. Do you have any pets? (Or plants!)

16. What are you making for dinner tonight?

17. So, have you also gotten into baking sourdough bread?

18. I don’t know how everyone on the internet seems to be doing crafts and making things! I’m exhausted just from playing on my phone.

19. Do you find that working at home is better or worse than going into your office?

20. So, when’s the last time you showered? Be honest.

Rather Than: “What’s up?”

21. What’s the last book your read?

22. Are you listening to any good podcasts in quarantine?

23. OK, I’m desperate for a new corny movie or bad TV show to get into. What have you been watching?

24. What songs are on your quarantine dance party playlist?

25. I’m going through old photos and thinking about all the places I want to go to when this is over. Where’s the best place you’ve ever traveled to?

26. Ugh, remember going to bars? What’s your go-to spot to get a drink in the city.

27. I would give anything for an oat milk latte from Starbucks right now. What’s your favorite coffee place?

28. I can’t decide what I should wear to this virtual dance party tonight, can I get your opinion on these two outfits?

29. What are the three places or group activities are you missing most right now?

30. I’m thinking about turning my kitchen table into a mini-office. Do you have any work-from-home tips?

31. Hmmm, should I make pasta with pesto or pasta with red sauce tonight?

32. Currently taking any and all funny video recommendations. Please send anything that made you laugh today.

33. Love that photo of you on a hike! Are you finding ways to stay active during quarantine?

34. That’s so cool that you’re a yoga teacher — do you have any live-stream classes that you recommend?

35. I love that sweatshirt in your first photo, where do you buy your comfy clothes? I’m always looking to add some flare to my quarantine uniform.

36. Please tell me you made that amazing dinner in your second photo. What are you cooking during quarantine tips?

37. If you could go anywhere right now, where would you go? I would ride the subway just to ride it.

38. What’s something small about life before quarantine that you miss? I miss drinking coffee in a to-go cup and getting honked at by cab drivers when I’m crossing the street.

39. Do you have any tips on making my living room a better place to work out in?

40. OK, for my next Zoom meeting, do I make my background the coffee shop in Friends or a Beyoncé album cover?

Rather Than: “You’re cute.”

41. You know what they say — (social)distance makes the heart grow fonder.

42. Are you a hardware store or pharmacy? Because I want to get all up in your essential business.

43. Maybe if we hit it off, we can go back to my Zoom.

44. Excited to have some quality (Face)Time with you.

45. Did the sun come up, or did you just smile? No really, I haven’t been outside in four days and don’t know if the sun is up.

46. I’ve lost track of what day it is, but you matched me at just the right time.

47. I’ll put on my nicest sweatshirt for our FaceTime date.

48. I can’t take you out, but I can send some delivery to your house.

49. It’s a good thing I didn’t meet you at the grocery store today because I don’t think I could stay six feet away from you.

50. What’s the worst first message you’ve ever received on this app?

51. I need to be honest: I’m happy you get to see these cute pics of me because I haven’t worn real pants in a month.

52. So, where should we go on our IRL date? We have all the time in the world to plan it.

53. If we were safe to go out and about right now, where would you be taking me?

54. You’re so sexy. You’re like straight out of my quaran-dreams.

55. I bet you look cute even when you don’t shower for three days.

56. If I met you out in public right now, what would you be wearing?

57. Did you see the NYC Health Department statement on sex and COVID-19? It’s worth the read.

58. You’re a sight for quarantined-eyes.

59. If I could rearrange the letters in “quarantine,” I’d put “U” and “I” together.

60. You don’t have to be six feet tall, but you do have to be six feet away.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

Buy Phicklephilly THE BOOK now available on Amazon!

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

Instagram: @phicklephilly    Facebook: phicklephilly    Twitter: @phicklephilly

How The Coronavirus Pandemic May Affect Dating Long-Term, According To 7 Experts

People keep referring to life after the world “gets back to normal,” but what will normal look like? After months of self-isolation and anxiety, social distancing will most likely affect dating long-term. But according to experts, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Instead of greeting each other with a handshake or hug, perhaps people will keep their distance. Until you get to know someone, you might not feel the need to rush into a no-strings-attached hookup. And while many daters will probably continue conducting themselves as they typically would, the fear provoked by the pandemic may continue to loom overhead.

“People don’t like to be told what to do, and in addition, very few people do what is best for them,” Lynell Ross, a certified health and wellness coach, behavior change specialist, and relationship expert, tells Bustle. Although public health officials are recommending social distancing for months to come, that doesn’t guarantee everyone will follow those guidelines.

“It will be up to each individual to decide what advice they will listen to, and how they will proceed with dating and socializing,” Ross says. And for many, that will mean continuing to social distance and connect with partners over dating apps, video chat, and text.

Two Asian woman chatting and drinking coffee at cafe.
Shutterstock

Therapists Believe Dating Will Slow Down

As people replace in-person meetings with online conversations, the pace of dating has been gradually slowing down. And that’s a trend Jaime Bronstein, LCSW, a psychotherapist and licensed clinical social worker, sees continuing into the future.

“Daters are emotionally connecting more, which is going to impact dating long-term in a positive way,” she tells Bustle. “[They] are naturally talking more and opening up to each other and really connecting.”

Those looking for serious relationships will see the benefits of getting to know their potential partners a bit better before becoming too invested. What do they want for the future? What are their likes and dislikes? By chatting online and having these discussions early on, they’ll get their answers upfront.

If you did end up meeting someone during quarantine, experts believe your relationship will likely be off to a good start. “Coming out of this, couples will feel more connected and bonded and stronger overall,” Bronstein says.

Dating Coaches Say People Will Be Pickier

According to Lana Otoya, a professional dating coach from Millennialships, dating will eventually go back to the way it was pre-pandemic.

“This is because so much of dating is based on sex and sexual chemistry, and this is something that comes across greatly only while speaking to others in person,” she tells Bustle. “Humans want to connect in person, so once the bans and lockdowns are lifted, dating life will go back to normal.”

Otoya predicts that people will feel that magnetic energy, just like they always have. But one thing that might change? How good you are at weeding out potential partners from those you have nothing in common with.

Since people have been using Zoom and FaceTime to talk to potential dates, they’ve gotten used to reading people and figuring out what they’re truly like, right from their living rooms. And that skill will carry into the outside world, Otoya says, and make for stronger relationships.

A Dating App Founder Thinks Virtual Dating Isn’t Going Anywhere

The world was once swipe-based, Dawoon Kang, the co-founder and co-CEO of the dating app Coffee Meets Bagel, tells Bustle. But going forward, she predicts daters will be in less of a rush.

“We can take the time to go deeper with one person at a time — give each person a proper chance,” Kang says. “I think ‘slow dating’ can actually be a faster way to find that type of genuine connection you might be looking for.”

Singles are also more open to using virtual dating than ever before. “For the past month, we’ve been surveying our US users on a weekly basis to see how the pandemic is affecting their dating lives,” she says. “The biggest trend we’ve noticed is that singles are increasingly becoming more open to virtual dating.”

During the week of April 13, 84% of US singles said they were open to a virtual first date, Kang says, and nearly half plan to text or video chat with their matches, while 38% plan to call more.

Public Health Experts Predict People Will (Literally) Take Up Space

Although it’s only been a couple of months since people last mixed and mingled in public, social distancing rules will be ingrained in people’s brains for a while, Carol Winner, MPH, MSE, a public health expert and founder of give space, tells Bustle. And that’ll stick with you as you venture back into public spaces.

“Proximity is a new issue for many people, and it will have an impact on the way singles date for at least a year,” she says. “Less kissing on the first date or even holding hands is to be expected.” Picture yourself going for a socially-distant walk, or having lengthy convos on the phone, before meeting up IRL for the first time.

“It’s not about being modest or prude; it’s about community health,” Winner says. “Recovering from the effects of a global pandemic doesn’t happen overnight, and some things will change indefinitely. People will be vigilant about who they spend time with within the next year or so.”

A Behavioral Expert Foresees A Return To Singledom

Tracy Crossley, a behavioral relationship expert, believes more people will want to remain single after coronavirus, as it’ll be a while before they feel comfortable around strangers again. Fear will play a role, she says, so you may find other ways to be social that don’t involve dating, kissing, or having sex.

That said, it’s possible you’ll respond by jumping into bed with someone who isn’t necessarily a good match, simply because you missed being around people, Crossley says, adding there are many possible outcomes.

The third option, she says, is that people will continue to take time to self-reflect and think about what they want in a partner, and then slowly get to know someone without being in a rush. “People either come together or go the other direction,” she says, “and it will continue to be a diverse universe as individuals are not all the same.”

Matchmakers Expect Your Priorities To Shift

People’s perception of their “ideal partner” will change after the coronavirus pandemic, Susan Trombetti, a matchmaker and CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking, tells Bustle. “We are going through a life-changing situation making […] dating wants and needs a lot clearer,” she says. Facing a global health crisis can reframe your priorities, what you want, and where you’d like to see your life go.

Communication skills have also been improving for everyone stuck at home, as we text and video chat with cute strangers. “Even though touching in a relationship is bonding, so is talking about your hopes and dreams,” Trombetti says. “Whether consciously or not, this will carry over into relationships for a while, which is a plus.”

Psychiatrists Warn That A New Vetting Process Is In Order

Psychiatrists believe that everyone’s fears won’t be alleviated until, to some degree, a vaccine is found for COVID-19. “Some level of caution may be simmering in the background, but whether or not someone is vaccinated for COVID-19 will not likely be at the top of people’s minds when dating three years from now,” Dr. Margaret Seide, a board-certified psychiatrist, tells Bustle.

Until then, she says people likely adopt a stronger vetting process when it comes to dating. “There will be much communication prior to meeting up,” Seide says. “Daters will be selective about with whom they are willing to meet.” And that may mean asking more personal questions, including their line of work and who they live with. “People will essentially be weighing out your corona exposure risk factors before meeting you,” she says. “That’s reasonable; it’s a new world.”

If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC or NHS 111 in the UK for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

Buy Phicklephilly THE BOOK now available on Amazon!

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

Instagram: @phicklephilly    Facebook: phicklephilly    Twitter: @phicklephilly

 

Yes, People Are Still Having Affairs in Quarantine

Cheating is a little trickier when you’re on lockdown with your spouse, but where there’s a will there’s a way

“Are you going to have to start having sex with your wife?” is a question I asked a friend about a month ago, after he mentioned that the many lockdowns then just going into effect around the country had put a damper on his regularly scheduled extramarital dalliances.

A serial cheater of at least a decade whose work typically provides a handy excuse for frequent travel and nights away from home, John, a 50-year-old from Boston, had suddenly found himself quarantined with the wife he hadn’t slept with in years, unable to even meet up with a local stripper he’d met online.

“Coronavirus is cock blocking me on multiple fronts,” he told me over text.

But not even a cock block of COVID proportions could necessitate a return to the marriage bed. Instead, John had already resigned himself to a sexless quarantine. “RIP to the next girl I have sex with,” he texted, kindly adding droplets and a crashing wave emoji in case I really wanted to visualize what he was getting at.

While it may be nice to imagine quarantine conditions pushing cheating or distant spouses back together again, Parent Trap-style, the reality may be the exact opposite. As predictions of a looming post-COVID divorce spike suggest, quarantine is likely to challenge many marriages, so it’s hard to believe those already dealing with infidelity will fare much better.

“This is not going to suddenly create better wives and husbands simply because they’re on forced lockdown,” says Paul Keable, Chief Strategy Officer at extramarital dating platform Ashley Madison. In fact, as cheating spouses lose access to the sexual and emotional outlet of an extramarital affair, already strained marriages may only be more likely to see increased tension.

“The reality is, if you were already looking for or involved in an extramarital affair, suddenly being put on lockdown with the individual you’re looking to escape from on some level is not going to be beneficial,” Keable tells InsideHook. “Those issues were already there, and before, you had a number of distractions to avoid thinking about them. Now you don’t have any of those things. So it’s probably going to be worse for a lot of people.”

While quarantine may make it more difficult to connect with an extramarital partner, a recent spike in new Ashley Madison users suggests plenty of people are up for the challenge. According to Keable, the site is averaging over 16,000 new signups per day, up from 15,000 in 2019, and those numbers appear to be rising as quarantine drags on. When I spoke with Keable last week, he told me the platform had seen 17,900 new signups the previous day alone.

Keable compares the current quarantine spike to an increase in user signups Ashley Madison typically sees in the first few weeks of January, after an extended period of time spent home with family over the holidays may have exposed and deepened the fractures that often cause people to begin dating outside their primary relationships. “What’s happening here is that same sort of phenomena writ large,” says Keable, adding that he expects to see site traffic continue to increase “exponentially” as lockdowns persist.

However, as John realized once canceled flights and work-from-home orders made it nearly impossible to arrange an extramarital tryst, quarantine conditions pose some significant challenges for those looking to begin or maintain an affair.

For one thing, hooking up with a stranger isn’t exactly what we might call social distancing, but even if you’re willing to accept the COVID-related risks, trying to arrange a clandestine hookup amid a lockdown is a logistical nightmare. Many hotels are closed, and with work-from-home orders eliminating any pretense of working late, business dinners, company happy hours or work-related travel, a good excuse for leaving the house is hard to come by. Moreover, while most singles or partners separated by quarantine at least have the option of remote sex, sharing close quarters with a primary spouse makes a secret phone or video sex session tough to pull off.

“The lack of privacy makes video calls impossible, so I stick to sexting and emails,” says Rose, a 43-year-old Ashley Madison user from New York currently quarantined with her husband. “Being quarantined with my spouse has made our relationship more tense. He used to travel extensively for work, but now he’s around all the time,” she tells InsideHook.

Like John, Rose, who began using Ashely Madison within five years of her marriage, finds that quarantine conditions haven’t done much to rekindle the flame with her husband. “My spouse and I haven’t been together sexually in a while and quarantine hasn’t changed that,” she says, adding that the only thing that has changed is her “freedom to date and have sex with others.”

While Keable suggests that many people joining Ashley Madison in lockdown may simply be looking for an outlet in the form of a virtual connection, he admits that it often “becomes challenging to maintain a relationship without the possibility of in-person communication.” As John texted me last month, “It’s so hard to maintain relevance in a FWB [friends with benefits] relationship from a distance. My text charm only goes so far.”

Unsurprisingly, then, some people are still taking their extramarital connections offline, quarantine be damned. Rose tells InsideHook she recently met up with a new partner from Ashley Madison in a park for a clandestine date, though she says they’re “being safe.”

“Virtual relationships are all novelty and fantasy, which is great,” she says. “But at some point you want the real thing with face-to-face interaction.”

Meanwhile, John, now over a month into his coronavirus sex cleanse, has also begun to wade back into the extramarital dating pool, though he insists sex is still off the table. Last week, he told me he had plans to meet up with — and remain six feet apart from — a new woman he’d met online, though he’d traded his usual Fort Lauderdale resorts for a more humble destination.

“Literally a Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot,” he told me when I asked where the socially distanced tryst was to go down. “She was so down to meet. She didn’t care where.”

“Former NFL cheerleader,” he added. “How can I pass?”

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

Buy Phicklephilly THE BOOK now available on Amazon!

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

Instagram: @phicklephilly    Facebook: phicklephilly    Twitter: @phicklephilly

Should You Text Your Crush During The Coronavirus Outbreak? Here’s The Truth

So, you’ve found a safe place to practice social distancing. You’ve stocked up on frozen pizzas and called your grandpa to explain how FaceTime works. And then, well… you’ve mostly just been watching Hannah Brown and Tyler Cameron’s TikToks and observing your nail polish flake off from washing your hands a million times a day, right? It gets lonely after awhile, and you might be drawn to finding connection in ways you wouldn’t normally: by video-chatting friends you aren’t that close with, watching hours of random influencers’ Instagram Lives, and even texting your crush.

Talking to someone you like might seem silly at first, because it’s not like you should meet up right now. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the virus can spread between people who are in close contact with each other. It’s important to “flatten the curve” by isolating and practicing social distancing and good hygiene in order to ensure that not everyone gets sick with the coronavirus at once. If that were to happen, the healthcare system would be dangerously overwhelmed.

As people are physically farther apart than ever before, it’s important to find virtual ways to come together. That’s exactly why you should shoot your shot: In the absence of normal socializing, a tiny scrap of affection can make a world of difference.

Feel closer to those who are far away by hosting a game night on Zoom.
Shutterstock

If I can get corny for a sec, texting your crush is good for you. In 1988, epidemiologists at the University of Michigan published a landmark study in the journal Science that found social connections improve your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. People who feel connected to others have a stronger immune system and lower levels of depression and anxiety, among a whole host of other benefits. You can absolutely get those perks by cooking with your roommate or calling Mom, but there’s no need to stop there.

Aside from Grey’s Anatomy donating medical supplies to real doctors in need and this video of penguins exploring an aquarium on a “field trip,” there’s a shortage of good news right now. So, take joy where you can get it. Text your crush. Don’t have one? Find a new crush! According to the many push notifications I’ve received this week, activity is up on both Tinder and Bumble.

There’s never been an easier icebreaker in the world. “Hey, how are you holding up?” is no longer boring. It’s kind. Ask them about their family’s health, about their best friend who bags groceries at the supermarket, about how they’re working or studying from home. During these stressful, uncertain times, a thoughtful message goes a long way.

Once you’ve sparked a conversation, swap Netflix recs or recipe ideas. Ask creative questions. Send the link to that penguin video. Maybe things get steamy. Whatever! Almost anything you could say over text will be more exciting than the seventh consecutive episode of The Office they’re currently watching in bed, surrounded by crumbs. The bar is set low and the potential for entertainment is high.

It’s true that you two probably won’t be able to see each other for the foreseeable future. But if the sight of someone’s name bubbling up on your phone screen makes you happy, isn’t that worth something? There are far worse problems right now than being bored or lonely, and this situation won’t last forever. You will get through this — and you don’t have to do it alone.

If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all Elite Daily’s coverage of coronavirus here.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

Buy Phicklephilly THE BOOK now available on Amazon!

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

Instagram: @phicklephilly    Facebook: phicklephilly    Twitter: @phicklephilly