In these crazy times when life seems to have moved online for many of us, there’s a ‘new normal’ for dating too, it seems, and it’s proving a challenge for those embarking on a new relationship

Thursday evening for my property lockdown mate and I was like every other dinner time together. We shared how our days have been. She is an architect who goes to sites every Tuesday and Thursday to check on how her projects are unfolding. I am almost a housewife now, having lost my working ability to the lockdown.

Today, she did not go to the site due to work complications brought about by the financial instability of COVID-19. For this reason, dinner time started with us making food together.

We had sound discussions on varying topics. Tonight we started talking about courting.

I love relationship talks. She does too

We are over a decade apart in age, so when I courted, landline telephones existed, but we mostly wrote letters, sent friends and siblings on lover’s errands – and even sometimes used our instincts to know what our prospective partner, or already existing partner, would need from us.

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For her, a lot of courting is taking place online, mostly via WhatsApp. For that, I expected her to be a lover of online dates.

What prompted this article was her question to me which went like this: “With restaurants and hotels not open, how can people like us even go on dates?” I laughed loud, but even before responding, I thanked her for giving me an idea for my next article.

When I wrote the article Intimacy during COVID-19: How to navigate stresses of lockdown, the focus was on managing the absence or presence of sex for couples who are locked-down together or apart. I however lamented the fact that couples locked apart may never get together again for many reasons, including because they may break up.

That article gave no hint to those meeting each other for the first time or once more. I ignored those falling in love again online, for the first time, those who are able to see each other but cannot touch, those who cannot meet, and those who can meet during social distancing, but do not trust each other enough to prompt intimacy and even sex, given that they do not live together and they are not sure if each person is safe and free of the virus.

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My companion mentioned a friend of hers who has a potential boyfriend

The boyfriend would like them to meet and has been persistent about this since stage 5 of lockdown. She does not want to go to his house and would not let him in hers either. Both parties claim to be single and stay alone with a child. Given our current circumstances, the question they have is; how then will they get to physically date each other?

I told my companion that many people have been dating and sexting online, mostly from websites like Tinder, Hinge, Bumble. I added that many people have even gotten attached to each other online and may do so for a long time to come.

She looked at me surprised, probably wondering how a married woman like myself would be saying something like this. Well, as an author of a book titled S’EX, I am always on a lookout for new materials on this juicy subject. My book was published in 2019 and since then, I have increased the number of people whose sanity depends on my creativity.

Sexual relationships are a very important part of our beings as parents, workers, employers, business people, etc. and we can never run away from this. It does not matter whether we are straight, gay, lesbian or asexual

For many adults, dates present opportunities for getting to know themselves again, as they fall in love, either for the first time, or all over again. It is a time for long and indulging meals, especially dinners at corner cafes – or wherever. It is a time when they go from place to place, introducing their new partner to relatives and friends.

Adults in love walk in streets and malls beaming. According to my companion and I, outdoor walks together as part of a date are history because with the coronavirus, there is no holding of hands, unless you live together or fully understand each other’s daily activities.

My young companion ended the conversation by stating that finding love at the time of coronavirus feels like being in pre-primary school where children found love but knew nothing related to what love is all about.

People are dating online, be it on WhatsApp or on the above sites. So, in convincing my friend not to give up hope on dating, I told her that the beauty with both distant and online dates at a time when salons and businesses were closed is that no one gets to see how you look.

She agreed, but also said that the impossibility of being physically intimate any time soon, kills the already struggling chemistry. Now, the dilemma is; How do people on online courtship proceed after talking and exhausting all that they have to say and listen to?

  • My advice is that the two should focus on the worth of their relationship. Why did they meet? Sharing hope is important in these uncertain times too.
  • They should try to video call and text each other constantly, to keep the flame alive.
  • Another thing is that they should give each other time to talk about their expectations and to be creative about their way forward.
  • Also, they should think about what they can do together observing the rules of their country. They could do a social distanced meet in a park and sit apart either on blankets or on a park bench. For a face to face meet, they both have to prepare mentally to make it a good date.

Life can be depressing if this new partner is the only adult that you can get close to within this time, yet you are unable to get intimate with them emotionally. Just go slow and be easy on yourself.

If you can spend more physical time together observing the required distancing space in your country, do so. Before or during the meeting, do not expect too much as people react to this situation differently. If you do not remain flexible, you might end up disappointing yourself and subsequently resenting your new partner.

Also try to speak to other people to distract yourself from emotionally being attached to your new absent love.

If you are unable to date and court during this time, forgive yourself.

If you are able to court and date, but not get intimate, forgive yourself, these are hard times.

If you are unable to get anything relationship right and are still lonely, accept that you might not get it all right.

As your personal psychologist, use this period as ‘me time’ and emerge strong post COVID-19.

About the author

Victorine Mbong Shu is locked down with her spouse and 4 children. Before the advent of lock-down due to the coronavirus, she worked in education and training since 2002. She is the CEO of Profounder Intelligence Management Services, a Peak Performance (Authority) Coach, Editor, Publisher, Researcher, Transformational Speaker, Material Developer, Facilitator, Assessor and Moderator. She is the co-owner of Profound Conference Centre in Bramley-JHB. Victorine and Dr. Fru are raising 4 bubbly children, including Child Prodigy, Africa’s youngest international multiple award-winning bestselling author of chapter books, 13-year-old Stacey Fru. A PhD fellow in Communications herself, Victorine is a respectable Involved Parenting Conversationalist. She is a BrandSA Ambassador and Awards Winning Author of the following books:

  • Stop Complaining! and Bring Back Involved Parenting, 2016
  • Trapped in our shadows, 2017
  • Proven habits for financial freedom, 2018
  • S’EX, 2018
  • Not too late: Bring Back Involved Parenting, 2020

Follow her on all social media by searching @Mbongshu or www.mbongshu.co.za