The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has recommended "social distancing," which means spending less time in crowded spaces and more time isolated at home. But as people stock up their freezers with non-perishables and update their Netflix queues, they're also canceling first dates and ghosting hookups. Instead, they're looking for that one special person to self-quarantine with. Coronavirus fears are creating an artificial cuffing season, one that isn't dependent on weather, but rather, isolationism. And while remaining at home for fear of the public's safety isn't a traditional relationship milestone, the looming anxiety of contracting or spreading coronavirus is pushing people to settle down.
According to OKCupid, 92% of US users are still trying to date right now, which means the pandemic isn't hindering people from looking for love (or, at the very least, connection). Gemma, 24, tells Bustle that the prospect of staying inside makes her want someone — anyone — to keep her company. "Let me get quarantined with a cute boy and not with my parents," she says. "I definitely had a sex dream about my ex last night. I hope we get quarantined together."
Texting an ex, under these circumstances, may be more of a health consideration than a bad habit. Serena Kerrigan, 25, an influencer who calls herself The Queen of Confidence, tells Bustle that while she's looking for a "coronavirus boyfriend," going out to meet someone new feels irresponsible. "The options are sending 'u safe?' texts to men I haven’t spoken to since I left my coat at their apartment after meeting them," she says. For Kerrigan, an ideal "coronavirus boo" is someone she's met before and likes, but wouldn't date under normal circumstances.
It might be best to quarantine myself in my friend's house because she has a cute roommate, and I want a boyfriend.
Chelsea, 25, says that the fear of spreading coronavirus has changed her entire perspective on what she should be looking for in a potential partner. "I’m starting to wonder if it might be best to quarantine myself in my friend's house because she has a cute roommate, and I want a boyfriend," she tells Bustle.
Dating coach Meredith Golden is concerned that quarantine-induced anxiety is motivating couples to move faster in their relationships than they normally would, but for the wrong reasons.
"I’m seeing a rise in advancing to the next level," Golden tells Bustle. "Undefined dating moves to exclusive; seriously dating progresses to living together; the 'stay in and cook dinner' date is being suggested sooner in the dating process."
Pricilla Martinez, founder of Regroop Online Life Coaching Martinez, echoes Golden's concerns and urges individuals to consider whether they're using a romantic relationship as a distraction from the stress of the news cycle. "You want to maintain a clear head and avoid getting into the wrong relationship for the immediacy of feeling better short term," she Bustle. "Allowing your anxiety to take over will lead to rash decisions that perhaps you aren't prepared for."
The media and the constant bombardment of information are overwhelming. How much better would it be if I could snuggle and have an orgasm before bed?
Kerrigan agrees that coronavirus anxiety is playing a factor in her desire to settle down during self-quarantine. "The media and the constant bombardment of information are overwhelming," she tells Bustle. "How much better would it be if I could snuggle and have an orgasm before bed?"
Instead of rushing into a relationship with someone you might not normally choose to be with, others are opting to spend time with their friends instead. Simon, 21, tells Bustle that they've found turning to romantic partnerships unfulfilling.
"In reality, all of my friends are my boyfriends," they say.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and coughing, call NHS 111 in the UK or visit the CDC website in the U.S. for up-to-date information and resources. You can find all Bustle’s coverage of coronavirus here, and UK-specific updates on coronavirus here.
Meredith Golden, dating coach and dating app expert
Pricilla Martinez, founder of Regroop Online Life Coaching
Serena Kerrigan, Influencer