This year, I returned to the River Styx — a river the Ancient Greeks believed was the boundary between the mortal and Underworld they would one day have to cross—of the online dating world with more apprehension than usual. At one point in time, I described myself with words like “serial monogamist” and “disgusting romantic.” Lately, I feel more like Charon, the ferryman of the River Styx, a seasoned navigator of these murky, cold waters that describe the Lewis & Clark dating scene.
The coronavirus has taken all of the life out of dating. Every time I meet someone new in person, I know I am putting my roommates at risk, no matter how safe the date is supposed to be. Constantly thinking about love and death in tandem has turned this once-idyllic lover into a jaded spinster.
Swiping amongst the sea of profiles, I lament the death of traditional meet-cutes, like locking eyes at a coffee shop or reaching for the same box of cereal at the grocery store. I cannot fathom any situation in which I would feel remotely charmed by a stranger talking to me, with the virus ever-present. Nowadays, if a stranger looks at me for too long I reach for hand sanitizer.
Listen, Ryan, age 26, who enjoys a cold one with the boys. I love that you love IPAs, but I do not want to get drinks at a bar, and neither should you. In fact, your flippant request to forage into the germ-filled world outside the threshold of my home has actually made me realize that I never want to speak to you again.
Despite the well-meaning matches, with their adorable pets and cozy work-from-home setups, I close each app with a frantic shiver. Now, playing the field has instead become a game of Russian Roulette, and with not just your own life, but with the lives of your loved ones as well. Will this newfound association of love and death fade when COVID-19 does? Or has this gothic time cynicized me for good? What will dating be like after we remove the distance in society?
For better or for worse, the state of our social lives has fundamentally changed, and we all need to understand our personal roles and responsibilities in keeping our community safe. Your dating choices, whether you like it or not, will have ramifications on the friends and family you spend the most time with.
At the same time, in-person dating provides emotional and physical comfort to many of us lonely souls floating down the River Styx.
Unfortunately, the “online” part of online dating kills the romantic in me.
Ultimately, there is no one correct response, but you must remain cognizant of how your choices affect the community at this moment.
But, please, for the love of God, stop going to bars.
This article presents opinions held by the author, not those of The Pioneer Log and its editorial board.