My thoughts on dating this summer: firstly, enough thoughts on it. It’s been over a year now of pondering, since I split from someone pretty much exactly a year ago: how should I do it? With who? Should I be doing it at all? Now I find myself able to (legally, anyway, wink wink, and just properly - none of those monotonous winter walks) and it’s like, come on babes. Go hard or go home. Or, you know, go hard and go home, if that's how the stars align.
I feel ambivalent, though. The fact that the restrictions are being lifted so edgily, weirdly, with so many blurred lines, adds to the slightly ‘meh’ feeling, but if I’m honest I had it pre-Covid anyway. I tended to view dating as a chore, an obligation I had to fulfil as a certain type of thirtysomething, living a certain type of life (that is to say: hot, professional, slaggy). I began to resent it. I resented the machinery of the apps too, the way we reduced each other to product; the seeming limitlessness of the choice countered by the sameyness of the options (and outcomes). But then how else do you meet people these days? A short, lovely relationship spared me the question for a few months, and then so did the pandemic. I took lockdown as an excuse to lock everything down, so to speak. But here we are, and we’re apparently going to enter a new “summer of love”. I mean, sure, judging by the amount of magic mushrooms all my mates are (allegedly!) guzzling.
Actually, I’m feeling ready to jump back in the fray again; I’m keenly feeling what Radio 4 refers to as “the epidemic of a loss of touch”, which is a nice way to say “God, I’d love a shag”. But there’s something I need to square. One conclusion from lockdown was that it was great to strip my life back to the essentials: to do a few things, the ones I loved most, well. Restricted in movement, and just in ways to broadly dick about, I finessed that whole “quality over quantity” thing which really was not my M.O. before. It made me think: I don’t want to waste my time doing the B-list stuff. It actually made me enjoy my own company, and panic less about being alone, which sadly seems to be a reason why many people chuck themselves into dating. So where does meeting strangers for over-priced margaritas on a Tuesday night fit in?
The fact is that dating, by definition, requires an awful lot of wasted time. It requires a lot of misses and sighs and weird treks across town to places that even CityMapper, judging from the circuitous routes it suggests to you, doesn’t want you to get to. And, truly, my tolerance is way down: of alcohol, of pop-ups, of people.
But how else do you do it? To turn up to a date and to say: “I’ve spent the last year having my mind mashed to a pulp by Netflix - what ya got?”, isn’t very fair. So though I’ve become ever more conscious of how precious my lovely time is in the last year, I’m also accepting that to date again, I have to be willing to give some of it up. Or just, you know, give it, in a spirit of hippie-ish, come-what-may generosity. It’s a summer of love, right?