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.”

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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.”

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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
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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.

 

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