• Thandiwe Ntshinga

For once, I was a Black womxn with a thriving dating life…until the coronavirus

It was just a few weeks ago when I was boasting a dating life that made my friends jealous. With the difficulties that come with dating, particularly as a Black womxn, I felt like Stella—I had my groove back. I was singling and mingling which included a couple of unconventional dates with a man whose company I thoroughly enjoyed. Moreover, the sex was out-of-this-world phenomenal. So, when he messaged me for another date, I was nothing short of keen to meet up again.

Things took a bit of an unexpected turn when he went quiet after I excitedly accepted his invitation. “How does one go quiet after asking a person out?”, I pondered to myself. Cue ghosting confusion. The situation did not make sense to me but deep down I was not quite convinced that I had, in fact, been ghosted. It really had just been two days, “he can be busy”, my rational mind told me. After a couple of days of excessive phone-checking, I finally received a reply from the guy. He explained to me, in a lengthy text, that with the 15 March 2020 announcement of a travel ban as South Africa’s first response to the corona-virus, that he had hurriedly decided to return home to Germany instead of facing the possibility being forced to stay in Johannesburg indefinitely—far away from those he loves. In just over a week, the corona-virus went from a casual date conversation we had had to something real enough for him to leave the country.

This is not to say that I did not understand his predicament. While waiting for his reply, I had done my own research on how safe dating during corona was. Back then – a month ago— online articles advised that dating and sex were still safe as long as one erred on the side of caution. As long as you were honest about not feeling well and cancelled planned dates everything was alright. Dating and sex could commence normally—except for group sex arrangements. In light of this information, I had wanted to suggest a “Netflix and chill” date as an attempt to adhere to the outlined expectations of social distancing at that time. Namely, not being in a restaurant or in a public place with more than 100 people.

The dating terrain has changed a lot over the last few weeks. Dates are no longer an option for South Africans. Since Thursday,26 March 2020, South Africa has been under a national lockdown in hopes to curb the spread of covid-19. Joining a third of the world’s countries in lockdown, human existence, as we know it seems to be coming to an end. Simultaneously, while people have been panic-buying essential items the world over, condom sales and online dating app usage have spiked. Writing this article on whatever-day of a now extended state-enforced quarantine, I have begun to wonder; what does ethical dating look like in this time of corona-virus?

Firstly, advice from online articles that condoned physical dates are now outdated. Those days are over. Nowadays, virtual sex is the expectation in sexual contact. Also, Pornhub offered free premium subscriptions to aid in the ‘lockdown blues’ and of course, there is good old sexting for more interactive play. Social media also provides a number of opinions on how to handle loneliness, boredom and sexual frustration with reminders on not contacting toxic exes as well as to see attempts at hooking up as “giant red flags”. As if there isn’t already enough to deal with in this moment, corona-virus has proved to further complicate dating with the introduction of ‘coronazoning’ defined as “engaging in flirty, romantic and/or sexual conversation with someone you have no intention of dating once social-distancing is over, solely because self-isolation is leaving you bored and lonely.”

We were never ready for the corona-virus and its effects on our everyday dating.

The current pandemic is keeping us cooped up at home. We have, however, moved swiftly past ignoring calls for self-quarantine and social distancing in order to satisfy our sexual desires. Get comfortable with solo play or find virtual partners. Stay far away from your exes but most importantly, stay home.

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