We’ve been faced with unforeseen circumstances in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing us into social isolation and reflecting on our relationships–past, present, and future. Our new series #LoveInQuarantine focuses on how couples are loving while in lockdown and how (or if) singles are dating during these times.
Words by Maria Mora. Illustration by Sam Liacos.
How was your love life, pre-quarantine?
Although I’ve been single for five years now, I opened 2020 with welcoming arms and a positive outlook on love and dating. I made the trek to San Francisco for work at the beginning of 2019 and mostly went on casual dates. I always thought that once I had my place and a decent profession, I would be open to a serious relationship. However, the stars have not aligned for me. From casual hangouts to dating, I am by no means in any rush to find love, and I have had such a fantastic time reflecting on this journey of being single.
In regards to dating, what was going through your mind when the nation went into lockdown?
Before the shutdown, I was in an interesting situation compared to a lot of single people. I was strangely set up by an older work colleague who approached a young, nice looking guy at her local gym, where she gave him my Instagram. He surprisingly messaged me around the 2019 holiday season, and we finally met up around the end of January 2020. We had a first date at a nice pizza restaurant in the city and bar hopped to keep the vibes going. From that day on through the lockdown, we hung out on the weekends, and I did things I had never done for a guy. I was playing house and making home-cooked meals. He was a fantastic guy, but I questioned if this was someone I could see myself dating long-term. I had my doubts and wondered if we enjoyed each other’s company during a time where we couldn’t do our usual weekend activities. I truly missed the fast-paced city life of taking the train to work daily, happy hours, and eating and drinking with friends. At the end of this situation around May, he completely blindsided me and mentioned he didn’t want to pursue something more serious. It was strange because we never had an in-person discussion about our current status, but I was still upset and hurt. I wish we would have decided we would have been better off as friends, but dating is never easy.
Have your relationship priorities changed at all since quarantine began?
Absolutely. After that situation ended, I realized now is not the time to be making big decisions on love. My focus is on ensuring that my dad, who is going through chemo, is well taken care of and that all my loved ones are in good hands. Those are the relationships that have always mattered most but have amplified in importance in 2020. This year it is not a cliche to say that I am beyond grateful to have so many supportive and loving people in my life, a steady income, and a roof over my head.
How do you envision love in the months or years to come?
I haven’t given up on love altogether. I must admit I slid into a cute man’s DMs recently. We met back in February while bar-hopping with friends in San Francisco, but never really communicated after that because I was seeing someone else. Fast forward to July, and we have been casually hanging out ever since. It’s way too early to say if anything will come of it; as I just mentioned dating is not my #1 priority at the moment. As a 26-year-old with plenty of pending career and travel goals, I still hope that I’ll stumble upon love in the future. I don’t need to be in a serious relationship by 27, and I don’t need to be married with two kids by 30. 2020 has solidified that timing is truly everything. If it’s meant to be, a real relationship won’t ever feel forced, and I will not settle for anyone who has hurt me. I will open myself up to the right person and defend the love I deserve.
What have you learned about yourself during this time?
I realized my life has been extremely fast-paced for years now, [and] that I have never taken the time to reflect and feel my emotions at their core. In such an awful headspace during March and April, I began seeing a therapist for the first time. Many of these problematic emotions are tied to missing my old social life, uncertainty at work, and a lack of motivation to do basic life every day. It was the most uncomfortable experience, but a milestone for me. I learned how to finally slow down and cope with the daily anxiety I had never experienced before. Being kind to myself by reminding myself who I am outside of work and a busy social life continue to play a huge factor. This inner work was long overdue. Most of all, it was a sign that I might not be ready to be vulnerable with someone else if I could barely do that on my own. I am not too old or broken to become the person I want to be. – Emily Celine, 26, San Francisco