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Lockdown love – a tale of desire and desperation

Anyone serious about meeting a partner eventually gets pulled into the online dating arena simply because it’s the easiest way to find love.

Having been a widow for 13 years, I’ve ‘done time’ on dating sites, but under lockdown it was a different ballgame.

At times it felt more like mortal combat than the meeting of souls and minds.

I’m not proud to admit that I blocked a total of 22 men on WhatsApp. Some were lewd, others were rude, some were liars and, at times, usually after too much white wine, I’d tell a few exactly what I thought about them which would get me blocked, too.

Online dating during lockdown became a sport, a fight to the death, a grumbling volcano of desperation, desire and disappointment.

In the past, you chatted, met for a coffee or a drink. Was there any spark – yes/no? – if not, onto the next. It was a numbers game.

But, all that changed with lockdown, although some did break the rules – one man admitted he’d had sex up against a tree in the countryside on a first date. He then went on to tell me he was looking for a committed relationship…!

One man admitted he’d had sex up against a tree

Another told me he was politically on the left, which I’d stressed in my profile. But when I checked his FB account, I found a pic of him in a pair of Speedos with a Free Tommy Robinson banner. He reckoned his mates had done it for a joke……next.

There was another who lied about his age – putting years on, rather than taking them off, and one whose FB friends seemed to mainly consist of Latvian porn stars. I could go on and on and on.

I lost count of the number of times I received an introduction of “are you after sex or companionship?” If it had been the former, I suppose I’d have had to go looking for trees in the wilderness.

Pic by Nick Fewings

But I didn’t dare go on any socially distanced dates during lockdown because I was more concerned about the lack of toilet facilities. No-one wants to be squatting in the bushes on a first date – apart from the aforementioned tree (ahem) hugger.

Nobody could really go anywhere, so men and women who would previously shun hours of texting and calling in favour of a meet up, had to spend hours texting and calling in the vain hope that there might be something worthy of their effort after lockdown. Sadly, I believe many fell in love through that process alone, only to be disappointed when they actually met the object of their virtual desire.

Many also experienced loneliness for the first time and wanted to talk, to know there was someone else out there who felt the same. There was a lot of virtual hugging going on, which was the more positive aspect of it all.

As a journalist, lockdown presented me with a lot of time to check out people’s stories and authenticity and few made the cut. It became a little obsessive at times, if I’m being honest, and I eventually had to bow out to protect my own peace of mind.

Did I find love? I learned a lot about how people feel and survive when they’re restricted.  I even made a few friends. But, love, no.

Di’s dating tips

  1. Do get a surname and check out a potential date on social media – it’s amazing what you can discover.
  2. Be wary of ‘model types’ with just one pic – if it looks too good to be true it usually is.
  3. Read the profiles – many fake accounts are written in Americanese – ‘Mom’, ‘favourite’ etc. I’m not saying you won’t get an American on a UK dating site, but when the nationality says British, you have to wonder.
  4. Always meet up in public places – I heard countless stories of women going directly to a guy’s house for a first date. Unbelievable!
  5. Check that you both want the same things early on. Too often people want a “friends with benefits” scenario but say they’re looking for commitment.
  6. Keep positive. I truly believe there is somebody out there for everyone, but if you don’t find them on a dating site, join an activity group and make friends that way.

Diane Cooke
Diane Cooke is a three times award-winning journalist who has worked for UK national/regional newspapers, magazines and websites.

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