Illustration: Janet Sung
Usually, Dear Level caters to male readers who are married or in a relationship (or situationship). But this time around, I’m addressing the single dudes out there. And I’ve got a question for you:
How are you holding up in these quarantined times?
I’m sharing a spot with my relatively new boo. It’s fine. We’re making it. I’ve lived alone for several stretches of my adult life, and I’ve worked from home for more than two decades. I was built for this.
But I also crave companionship in my off time. If I didn’t happen to get boo’d up, I wonder what I’d be doing now to connect. I can chat with my friends and family, but that’s not the only thing I’d need. So I can’t imagine how single guys are faring these days.
Propose you each get delivery from the same restaurant. Clean up a corner of your crib, and hit the phone or laptop camera. Wave, eat, talk, smile. Take turns cranking up a mini-playlist. Will it feel awkward and goofy? Yes. Will it be a connection that could lead somewhere? Also yes.
Are you still swiping on Tinder? Making small talk in mindless apps? Shooting your shot in Instagram Live comments? Where does that even lead now? Whatever your strategy, there’s only so much self-satisfying we can do before we need the real thing.
Not to worry. I have some ideas. (Yeah, some of these may sound ridiculous, but isn’t life ridiculous right now?)
- Maybe you met her on a dating site before things went left. Maybe she lives in your apartment building and you’ve done nothing but smile on the elevator. Whoever and wherever she is, it’s time to ask her out — quarantine-style. Propose you each get delivery from the same restaurant. Clean up a corner of your crib, put on some actual clothes (not just from the waist up), and hit the phone or laptop camera. Wave, eat, talk, smile. Take turns cranking up a mini-playlist. (Make sure yours includes Prince’s Sign o’ the Times and Jamiroquai’s Virtual Insanity. Just trust me on this one.) Will it feel awkward and goofy? Yes. Will it be a connection that could lead somewhere? Also yes. A virtual date requires a level of vulnerability that we’re all going to have to embrace if we want to stay whole. (And if you both have virtual-reality headsets, that’s a whole new level of date.)
- Staying fit is a challenge, with gyms being closed and that membership you barely used no longer an option. But working out from home can also be a good way to bond with someone you’re crushing on. Apps like Nike Training Club can allow you to hold each other accountable. Ask her if she’s gotten in her 10,000 steps — yes, it can be done in a small home. Maybe you can connect each evening for a pushup challenge. Or start each day with a rundown of meal planning via an app like Marco Polo.
- So, you’ve been “dating.” You’ve seen her cooking and working out. She even slipped up and let you see her bedtime bonnet in the video chat. When mutual physical attraction is clear, where does this kind of relationship go? How do you turn the corner? This is where things can get weird. You’ll have to do something you may not be used to: talk to her. A real talk — no B.S. — about the next stage. Does she want a sexual relationship? How does she envision it? How will tech be used? Is she comfortable with sexting? Watching porn together? Undressing for each other? Mutual masturbation? There are a lot of ways this can work. But it begins with laying out all the variables in a way you might not do otherwise. In more normal times, you’d go in for a kiss and let the rest sort itself out. No more of that, at least for now.
- Let’s say (heaven forbid) we’re all semi-locked down for longer than we’re anticipating. Do you have a conversation about exclusivity? What would that look like? Again, ask questions, and be clear about your intentions. If you know you want to stream and sext with more than one cutie, let that be known. Just because you’re not seeing someone in person doesn’t mean the bond isn’t there, or even the desire to be monogamous. Be as honest virtually as you’d be in person.
- As it stands, we know that if you’ve been completely isolated for 14 days and show no symptoms, you are likely not positive for coronavirus. So, if things get super serious, take a co-quarantine. Both of you isolate for 14 days. See if you can get your hands on a test. (Let’s pretend they’ll be easily obtainable for nonsymptomatic Americans in the near future.) Share those twin negative tests and make a run for each other.
- So, you’ve gone through all those ideas and are still feeling her? Congrats. Enjoy. And if you decide you want to take that ultimate step, yeah, you can do that virtually, too. But keep in mind that wedding ceremonies via Skype or FaceTime are rarely legal. To jump the broom together, you’ll both have to be on the same side of the screen.