At the crossroads of isolation and wanting partnership-Dating in a pandemic.

“As a young woman raised in a sheltered African home, with strict curfews and stern warnings to avoid boys and bury my head in my books, I have mastered the art of seclusion”

Today’s post is an extension of my mind at hours when I ponder on life and fulfilment beyond career or financial goals. And since coming to the realisation that my husband will not meet me by breaking into my house, I’ll have to explore the nuances around dating.

Dating as an introvert presents many challenges; the addition of a mentally draining Covid-19 pandemic has only just added to its endless list of “ifs” and “buts”. For the singletons who happen to be introverts, we have spent a great deal of the pandemic nurturing our isolation and fortifying the walls of self-sufficiency. This poses a challenging post pandemic reality; where flirtatious dms and “talking stages” begotten during quarantine, with the expectation of blossoming into a physical dating interaction is put to the test.

As a young woman raised in a sheltered African home, with strict curfews and stern warnings to avoid boys and bury my head in my books, I have mastered the art of seclusion. It isn’t a state I dread. In fact, I love being in solitary with the black-out curtains and thousands of Grey’s Anatomy episodes carrying me through nights of introspection. I seldom find a partner who entices me enough to easily penetrate the high towers of solitude I am locked in. And when I do, without hesitation the tower completely liquefies leaving me vulnerable without healthy boundaries.

The past year spent in multiple rounds of lockdowns have been an eye-opening journey. Endless hours spent in my sanctuary has consolidated the love for my own company and my distaste for small talk or premature sexual advancements. Yet, in this awareness, a yearning for a complimenting company arose. Someone whose presence will cuddle me through nights of unending conversations on existence theories. Someone my children will call daddy and run around playgrounds with. Him, someone that I get to face life’s challenges and celebrate life’s wins with. Someone whose company I would relinquish my isolation for, in a heartbeat. And the realisation that I will have to date, and put myself out there to make this possible, was bothersome.

Have you seen the dating streets these days? It’s all wrapped in a Pandora’s box filled with 2 year talking stages, narcissists dressed up as “nice guys” and boyyyyy let’s not even get into the normalisation of ghosting. But despite all of these cautions, I am a lover and I have always believed that when I am ready, there will definitely be someone out there for me.

In isolation, yearning for my type, I run to Hinge but find myself quickly deleting the dating app after a day of being overwhelmed by 50+ matches who just could not be him. Online dating has garnered mass amounts of humans looking to connect and escape their loneliness thanks to the pandemic. Unfortunately, humans have their shortcomings regarding honesty about their intentions. Being encapsulated by my healing; a journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance, a journey of pain and joyful revelations, my patience for the games that come with dating is meagre. 

The ease of Lockdown provides the possibility for a more authentic dating experience in person, but here I am, afraid of renouncing my solitary comfort for a fleeting romance that might leave my heart aching again. I have spent a great deal of time being my own source of dopamine and serotonin- what will happen to the towers if I head on out there and accept his provision of love? What will happen if after multiple dates and getting lost in each other’s arms, he leaves? Have I learnt to healthily deal with the possible rejections that dating comes with?

Dating after over a year in a pandemic presents a plethora of conundrums surrounding social interactions. What are the appropriate questions to ask on a first date nowadays? Am I grilling him too much if I ask the vital questions that will determine our compatibility from the jump? Should I just stick to the shallow surface level questions? How slow should we go? How fast can we run? How safe is he? Will I lose myself a little too much in his compliments coming out of a stage where the only compliments I was showered with erupted from my lips? At the first sign of discomfort, will I run and lock myself in the highest room in the tower?

How do you put up enough walls but not too much that you keep everyone out. And not too little that you end up self-sabotaging and betraying your boundaries?

Am I too naive in the type of love I envision? Him, the one that will continue life’s journey with me is a lover with an addictive saccharine sweetness that does not run dry, a siren, patient, authentic, confident, warm and intelligent with flaws he bears open.

This inner discourse unearths many questions. Here I am, a lover wanting the elusive experience of intimacy, building and loving life with a partner yet unequivocally making love to my isolation. But if there is anything I know, it is that the lover in me will remain open enough to embrace the lover for me. And together we will bask in the harmonious silence that embraces our nights through thousands of Grey’s Anatomy episodes or nights filled with our laughter and soft moans echoing in a home filled with love.

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