Keeping up relationships is a challenge during the current coronavirus pandemic. At my retirement center, the residents on the 13th floor open their apartment doors during the dinner hour to join each other in a round of “God Bless America.” Another man uses Zoom, an online video conference program, to attend Buddhist services. One woman, recently widowed, employs her iPhone FaceTime feature to share an evening meal with her daughter and son-in-law. My daily ritual is to make a landline phone call to my mom at noon. At 104 years of age, she needs help to pick up the receiver. Fortunately, the overworked staff is kind enough to oblige. The plain truth is, given her dementia, I fear if we don’t connect, she will forget me.
What many of us may be learning during the shutdown is that keeping a remote relationship vibrant is tough. Wi-fi is no substitute for a hug.
Thinking about the problem, I wondered how “sheltering in place” is affecting courtships. Tinder, a dating service with 5.9 million subscribers, admits setting up a rendezvous has changed. Couples no longer meet in a bar or restaurant. The venue is an electronic chat. The pickup lines don’t seem to have improved, however. “Are you the coronavirus? Because you take my breath away.”
Meeting a stranger under most circumstances is difficult. Sharing meaningful text messages is harder. Tinder has little advice to offer, so I’ve gleaned a couple of activities to share with the young and restless. One duo is bingeing on episodes of the West Wing and making their observations over the phone. After a few political arguments, the pair may decide the relationship has no future. Or, If they get turned on long enough to anticipate each other’s arguments, it’s probably time to set a wedding date.
Phone sex is an option, of course. It’s popular with or without a pandemic. Unfortunately, It’s not my area of expertise. At least I won’t admit it. Anyway, I suspect young people know the important sites better than I do.
Okay, I admit it. A pandemic is rough on a courtship. But let’s be honest. Togetherness isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be–especially if it’s with the wrong person. Remember Miranda’s complaint from the television show Sex And The City? “Last night, Steve and I held hands for an hour and a half watching the fire. He was looking into my eyes. I was looking for the remote.”