This article originally appeared on VICE UK.
Remember when everyone thought dating apps would obliterate human intimacy as we know it? Fast forward a few years and, dear reader, may I present to you: trying to maintain a meaningful relationship with another human during a global pandemic.
As a responsible adult, you are of course practicing social-distancing but you can’t stop thinking about how winter is over and right now, you should be bouncing from pub garden to pub garden on a series of dates, then regaling the group chat with awkward sex stories. Instead, you’re in a horny haze, stuck inside your home with your housemates or – worse still – your family, swiping Tinder with dead eyes as you search for some kind of attention.
If you follow both halves of a self-isolating monogamous couple on Instagram, you’ve probably watched them complete at least four jigsaw puzzles and cook far too many mediocre vegan “treats” in the past month. They look happy now but give it another three weeks and they will hate each other. So, instead of trying to replicate what they have by hooking up with your least-infuriating housemate, here's a handy list of the ways you may find yourself navigating intimacy while under lockdown.
It’s pretty incel of you, but you’re fuming that you didn’t get one last shag in before lockdown was announced. Instead you were worried about stupid things, like “making sure you have enough food.”
Honourable Mentions: abstinence, all the porn
I am so sorry, but you’re going to get dumped over Zoom. They’ll turn on a novelty background in an attempt to make it hurt a little bit less. It won’t work. But at least you don’t have to stifle your sobs on the bus home this time – you’re already there, baby!
Honourable Mentions: break-outs, boredom
C: Caroline Calloway
Literally everyone is posting horny tweets and shameless thirst traps right now, but Caroline Calloway is the reigning champion of being Horny On Main. Posting a nude on Twitter as an apology, and then tagging the prestigious university you went to? Amazing.
Honourable Mentions: commitment, cleanliness
D: Dating Apps
Before COVID, Tinder was dying – shelved as the hook-up app put on this earth purely for those who want to find a disappointing shag. Hinge and Bumble were the more acceptable dating platforms to have hidden in the “Travel” folder on your iPhone. In lockdown, however, the og dating app is enjoying a renaissance, reporting a record number of swipes shortly after lockdown began. Prepare to receive a shit-tonne of quarantine-themed Tinder messages worthy of a post on @beam_me_up_softboi.
Honourable Mentions: DMs, despair, Dettol wipes
They were never on time for any of your IRL dates, nor did they message when they said they would. But lockdown has brought out a whole new side to their character. Rather than ignore you, they’re setting reminders for your 9:30PM-sharp video sex call. Lucky you.
Honourable Mentions: experimentation
You post an extremely bog-standard picture of a sunset to your Story – it’s blurry from how hard you had to zoom in and the colours don’t blend into one, and yet people in your DMs are going crazy. They're sending heart-related emojis and clapping hands. “Amazing picture!” they write. “How’s quarantine treating you, queen??”
Honourable Mentions: fuckboys, FaceTime
Look, I’m not saying that it’s OK to ghost people. It’s not nice and obviously, communication is key in any relationship… buuuuut if you ghost someone right now, there’s no way that you’ll bump into them at the pub on a Friday and have to explain yourself. It would be senseless not to make the most of the situation.
Honourable Mentions: getting with your housemate
H: Horniness as a State of Being
It’s no longer a state of mind, it has consumed your entire being. It’s a guttural feeling, more primal than anything you have ever experienced before. It has rotted your brain and it’s all you can talk about. Help.
Honourable Mentions: human touch, Hinge
I: Instagram Stories
A.k.a. the medium via which to do most of your flirting. How else are people going to know you’re single and horny unless you post about it every single day?
Honourable Mentions: ignoring red flags
J: Joe Exotic
Didn’t want to have to bring this up here but if you’re out of things to do, you could count how many times “Joe Exotic” is mentioned as you swipe through Tinder bios. Bonus points if there’s a “cool cats and kittens” reference. But honestly, get a new show to talk about, it's been weeks.
Honourable Mentions: "just wanted to ask how your mum's doing? i miss her" texts from your ex
By now, kissing is but a distant memory. Quite weird that smashing your mouth against someone else’s seems foreign to you these days, but also something you’re gagging to do.
Honourable Mentions: killing time
Lying is crucial to maintain your new virtual relationship. When you’re on a real date, you can’t Google what the other person is talking about to make you seem smarter. In lockdown, however, there is absolutely nothing wrong with saying that you love The Sopranos, despite being unable to name a single character. Alexa, what the hell is “gabagool”?
Honourable Mentions: listing the reasons you should get back with your ex, loneliness
Sometimes, you go on a Tinder date and end up at their house everyday for the next week. Maybe, you think, maybe I’ve finally found the one? So, when lockdown was announced and the person you’d been seeing for three months suggested that you self-isolate together, of course you agreed. You imagined it would be fun: sex on tap, laughter, cute couple photos on the ’gram.
Nearly a month later and this is the point when you usually start to lose interest. And yet here you are, stuck with them for the foreseeable future :)
Honourable Mention: masturbation
I mean, doesn’t this article speak for itself?
Honourable Mentions: nudes, Netflix Party
It’s week 15 of lockdown and you’re on your 30th video chat date. You really think the next person you match with could be the one.
Honourable Mentions: Omegle
Post-lockdown won’t be the orgy you imagined. Social distancing measures will likely still be in place, which kind of scuppers that romantic date to the mini golf course you’ve been fantasising about with the Hinge guy you've never met IRL.
Honourable Mentions: puzzles, phone calls that last four hours
Q: Quarantine Bae
You match with a man on Tinder. He seems normal, but within seconds, he has sent the message: “Will you be my… Quarantine Bae???” followed by the diamond ring emoji and a laughing-crying face. You have no choice but to un-match him.
Honourable Mentions: "quarantine and chill?"
You laugh in the face of the no triple-texting rule. You’ve stopped waiting more than two minutes to reply to messages. You send 12 WhatsApps in a row, knowing that there’s no way that your crush is going to ignore you. Like everyone else on the planet right now, they have nothing better to do.
Honourable Mentions: re-downloading all the dating apps
S: Sneaking Out
You're a model citizen: you didn’t stockpile toilet paper and you wear a mask when you leave the house for your weekly Londis trip. But you're a slave to shagging and you have seriously considered risking the lives of the people you live with for some Tinder guy who sleeps on a futon. Please, don't do it. Learn how to do FaceTime sex instead.
Honourable Mentions: settling, sexting
T: Thirst Traps
Truly the most noble mating call. You post a picture of your arse and wait for the reply guys to come running. Keep your King Lear and podcasts, I can’t think of a more productive way to spend quarantine.
Honourable Mentions: Tinder
Week three of lockdown, and you’ve had enough of dating. This is the last time you delete and then re-download Bumble. Instead, you will start taking two-hour long baths and drowning out the sound of your housemates shagging with a self help podcast. This is self care. (It will last three days.)
Honourable Mention: uploading yet another photo of yourself to Instagram
V: Video Sex
There you are, masturbating into the webcam that HR had specially couriered from your office. Is this how you imagined you’d be spending your twenties?
Honourable Mentions: vibrators
The only “hobby” you have that you can still do during lockdown. To spice things up, you sat on your hand until it went numb to remember what the touch of another person feels like.
Honourable Mentions: WiFi, WhatsApp
No one is trying harder to get into your pants during lockdown than someone you broke up with two summers ago. “Doing a lot better without me I see haha,” they message, quickly followed by a screenshot of your own WhatsApp picture. After nearly a month of no human contact, you decide that maybe them cheating on you multiple times might not have been that bad, after all? It didn’t take you that long to get over them, did it? The crying only lasted for about a year.
You plan a catch-up for after lockdown that you will definitely come to regret.
Honourable Mentions: eXistential crisis
The human ability to flit between extreme horniness and all-out rage at the inadequacies of the Tory government in a crisis is truly astounding. You download all the dating apps, you FaceTime people, you’re going to use this time to ensure that you have the best post-lockdown shag. But then it hits you… people are dying. There isn’t an end date in sight. Key workers don’t have PPE. Your anxiety spikes and the thought of sex repulses you. That is, until the horrid little cycle starts all over again.
Honourable Mentions: your self-esteem (RIP)
It’s quite mad that the very same video platform that you use to beam your boss’ face into your living room is the same one you’re now using to flirt with the people you’re dating.