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Dating in the Time of Covid-19: I Gave It a Go – and Got Tips From Love Guru and Break-Up Boss Zoë Foster Blake While I Was at It - Broadsheet
Because being single in isolation sucks. Or does it?
I went about this in the wrong order. I launched into the Covid-19 dating game, realised I didnt know exactly how to play, then sought the advice of an expert. Ive done the dating-app thing before, but dating in pandemic times (and the requisite 1.5-metre-social-distancing) is a new ball game. First, some background. Im single, and I like it that way. I dont have to meet a significant other halfway on a Friday night and order Thai when what Im really craving is some chicken and chips to sandwich between bread with sauce. I dont have to spend the evening with Sylvester Stallone in Rocky for the 700th time when Im in the mood to watch Careful What You Wish For (17 per cent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes). I can assemble Ikeas Billy bookcase without anyone pointing out that Ive grossly misinterpreted the instructions, and I get to have my bed all to myself. But. When coronavirus came along it sort of mucked up my Single Smugness. The prospect of being alone in isolation got me thinking company might not be so bad. Since batting my eyelashes at someone across the bar at The Royal Bondi was no longer an option, I begrudgingly (encouraged by my also-single housemate) downloaded Bumble, Tinder and Hinge. Again. I was pleasantly surprised to discover these apps had changed. They had interesting new features designed for dating from a distance, such as virtual dating badges, and had dropped the usual 160-kilometre-radius limitation; the worlds entire singles population seemed to be active on them Bumble recorded four million registered downloads at the beginning of April in Australia alone (in more normal times, say last September, it clocked three million total downloads) and, whether out of boredom, loneliness, desperation, or all of the above, most chats now extended beyond Hey. (Tinder conversations in Australia are up an average of 16 per cent, and the average length of conversations is 12 per cent longer, the company says.) I found myself in a number of entertaining chats, including with Punny Guy on Bumble, Surfer Dude on Hinge, and Madrid Man on Tinder, thanks to the apps free new Passport feature that allows you to match and chat with people all around the world. After about a week of in-app messaging, Surfer Dude suggested we Date From Home. He Facetimed me first, but I let it ring out because I hadnt spent the necessary one hour and six minutes to take my hair from frizzy AF to bouncy and smooth. I called him back the old-school, video-less way, and we talked for two hours. At the end of our chat, he asked if it would be irresponsible of us to meet in person. I said yes, it would be. Then I revisited his profile, remembered the attractive face behind the phone call, and promptly changed my mind. We went on a socially distanced walk that weekend, meeting in the car park of a beach between our suburbs. I pulled out my ruler, measured 1.5 metres, and told him not to breath within a millimetre of that zone. We walked and talked all afternoon, stopping for coffee at the midway mark. We said our goodbyes (thank you coronavirus for removing the uncomfortable Do-We-Hug-or-Do-We-Kiss scenario from the equation) and returned to our respective Isolation Stations. He called me that evening to tell me hed like to see me again. I shared the sentiment. He messaged me the next day to ask if Friday afternoon worked. I said yes. I texted him Wednesday: Hey stranger! Hows your week going? Still keen to do something Friday? Weather looks ideal! Thursday: crickets. Friday: nothing. Saturday: nope. Enter Zoë Foster Blake, the author of LOVE! and Break-Up Boss, and founder of the app of the same name (do yourself or a mate-in-need a post-break-up favour and download it, trust me). Foster Blakes advice when someone ghosts you? Im going to be tough to be kind here: if they dont text, they dont exist. Try to get on with shit. Dont waste time and energy on someone who doesnt write back. When someone wants to communicate with you, they do, and they will. Tuesday: Hey Em! Sorry Ive been MIA. Its been a really hectic time at work. Id still really like to see you. What about this weekend? Wednesday: The message I should have sent as per Foster Blakes take-no-shit wisdom Im busy this weekend. The message I actually sent All good, such is life! Sounds good to me! Lets do Sat? (Questions I later asked myself: why has Ben Cousins torso tattoo become my life motto? Whats with all the exclamation marks?) Wednesday night: Saturday it is, same time and place. Really looking forward to it. Night x. Thursday: nothing. Friday: nothing. Saturday: nada. Sunday: My housemate bangs on my bedroom door with an early-morning newsflash Em Surfer Dude just liked me on Hinge! Such is life. So how do you know, during lockdown, if someones only into you because theyre bored? Youll know if someone is into-you into-you if they dont vanish once the world opens up again, says Foster Blake. But is it the worst thing to keep a few conversations going with people, even if theyre not into-you into-you, during this shit-show? I would think probably no. Enjoy the attention, have fun, hone your flirting and messaging skills. Yep, practice makes perfect. People can flake on you even without a pandemic, she adds. Perhaps try not to forecast too much into the future, as a general rule hard as that can be when sparks are zinging around. Be here now, enjoy the connection, try to view this whole thing as a wild experiment rather than a test. And for those processing a pre- or during- Covid break-up? If you cant process your pain with mates and outings, maybe it would be helpful to go straight to the prison stage, where you work on yourself, physically, mentally, spiritually, because you have the time and cant leave, says Foster Blake. I have a freshly broken-up friend who has been in lockdown in NYC and has spent the time getting insanely fit, learning to write with her left hand, cooking and taking up meditation. Sure, its a cliché, but whats the alternative? Drink too much, binge Netflix and endlessly stalk your ex? Exactly. Youre much better off teaching yourself to make sourdough, getting your art-and-craft on, or letting off some steam on the pavement. And here are some of my own takeaways: Get on the apps if you arent already theyre really fun right now. In all my years of dating-app experience, right now is the most fun Ive had on them. With more time on our hands, and less options to meet prospective partners IRL, people seem to be using them as theyre meant to be used: to communicate (not just for self-validation). Proof: Bumble recorded a 26 per cent increase in messages sent and 56 per cent increase in video calls made in the second half of March, with the average video call lasting 21 minutes. Lower your expectations to zero. Thats not Negative Nancy talking thats Realistic Rachel. Sometimes in life, disappointments are inevitable. But dont let that stop you from swiping. Think of dating as a process of elimination: every disappointing interaction is a fish removed from the sea. Once all the gummy sharks have been fished out, youll be left with a big, fat bluefin tuna. Dont put all your eggs in one basket. Especially in the early days. Keep multiple options open, so youre not suddenly back at ground zero when a convo drops off (which it will). Its a numbers game. Get out of your comfort zone and take the damn Facetime call. If they cant handle your hair at its worst, they dont deserve your hair at its best. (Bonus tip: a shot of tequila beforehand helps, so long as its past midday.)
Planning to Stay Awake for Wednesday Night’s Lyrid Meteor Shower? Don’t Bother - Broadsheet
“You’re more likely to see Billie Eilish in a dress than a Lyrid meteor from where we live.”
Stories about the impending Lyrid meteor shower on Wednesday night have been peppering the news: we know what it is (a shower that occurs each April when debris from the Comet Thatcher meteor vaporises in Earths atmosphere); what time to look for it (between midnight and dawn); and how many meteors we can expect to see (between 10 and 18 per hour). But Perry Vlahos, vice president and curator of current phenomena at the Astronomical Society of Victoria, says youre better off staying in bed. The Lyrid Meteor Shower, from our position is never anything worth getting up for, he tells Broadsheet. I can guarantee you from Melbourne you might only see one or two meteors from this shower. In fact, go out any night and youre likely to see more sporadic meteors (coincidental bits of debris that fall into the earths atmosphere and burn up as shooting stars in any direction) than what youll see from the Lyrids. Youre more likely to see Billie Eilish in a dress than a Lyrid meteor from where we live. If youre hoping to catch the meteor shower from Sydney, Vlahos says the view there will be equally unimpressive. If youre further north, near Brisbane, you may see three or four, but I wouldnt guarantee it. The Lyrid meteor shower is more visible in the northern hemisphere, but even there, its not considered one of the best. Youd see more random meteors three or four, just on any clear night if you continue looking up for an hour than from the Lyrid meteor shower, says Vlahos. In his opinion there are only three meteor showers worth staying awake for in the southern hemisphere: the Eta Aquarids (in the first week of May); the Orionids (October); and the Geminids (December). Youve been warned.