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I Miss Quarantine: The Ultimate Excuse for Not Dating

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The grass is always greener, huh? I spent the last year lamenting the status of the world. Adapting to a life spent alone. Missing my friends and family. Devouring series after series on Netflix and Hulu. Running out of said series. Twiddling my thumbs. Working on a business idea. Beginning a memoir. Mentally planning all the vacations I would take when the world reopened. Doing anything to take up the time and not think about my existential dread I could not cover up with socializing and endless activities.

I felt queasy with the thought of not knowing when the pandemic would be under control and my former life would return. But now that life is returning, I am faced with a cold reality: The coronavirus quarantine was its own distraction for me. It distracted me from the fact I am 34 and still single. That my last serious relationship was five years ago. That I have not had sex in three years. That I have no immediate prospects. That I resent the modern gay man’s lack of fish to choose from compared to his straight peers (after all, we statistically choose from a smaller pile, no?). And that I am generally not fulfilled in my personal life.

I no longer have the ultimate excuse:

“Oh, sorry, I can’t date right now because it is not safe. I must stay in my apartment. Yes, I cannot leave and must eat ice cream and watch ‘The Great British Baking Show.’ Dating will just have to wait!”

How convenient.

As my medical mask came off, the dating apps were re-downloaded. With an excruciating reluctance and massive eye roll, I went into the iPhone app store and clicked on Tinder and Hinge. Vowing to be proactive, I have been on five dates since May, all of them starting as digital avatars on my screen. Two were disasters (one man told me he still lived with his wife because he could not afford to get divorced), one was just whatever (he was alright-looking but told me he basically does not believe in COVID-19), and one was great (a handsome, confident doctor). The latter, of course, lives in another city. Oh, cruel world!

I cannot help but see many other single friends, mostly women and gay men, feel similarly in this post-pandemic, now endemic world. Suddenly, we have been thrust into all our problems again. We have lost a year in age and have nothing to show for it, at least relationship-wise. For those like myself who desire a family unit and children, there is a race to keep up with our friends who each had 47 babies each in quarantine and bought a second home (all shown to you with the perfect Instagram filter). All us 30-plus singles did is buy a turtle or a dog and learn how to make jam.

Even worse, if you feel like you are losing time to find “the one,” we are now entering what the media has dubbed the “whoring 20s.” Many people don’t want to settle down and commit to just one person after a year in solitude — they want to get laid! (I guess after three years sans sex, I should welcome the new era.) This is coming from the generation that already lacks commitment issues to begin with due to the endless opportunities and FOMO triggered by constant connection, options, and globalization. Why settle? The quest for long-term coupling continues to be out of grasp for many of us millennials and others.

So, yes, as I try to keep my chin up and go on those ill-fated, digitally born dates, I often think to myself, “Wouldn’t it be great if a disease jumped from a pangolin or a petri dish in a lab to a Chinese person and suddenly I had to hide in my house with popcorn in lap watching ‘Tiger King’ for another year, all the while making list after list of things I will do one day, without ever having to do them?”

Well, maybe not quite that. But I do miss you sometimes, quarantine.

Getty image by Westend61

Originally published: December 14, 2021
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