Picture this: You grab your drink from the bar (or coffee place or soda shop counter). You turn around and do a visual sweep to find the rest of your group. Instead of finding your friends, you lock eyes with a stunning stranger. You start chatting and laughing and boom! That moment turns into the rest of your lives together. I know so many people dream of a whirlwind romance like this one. Let’s be real, though. These situations are rare enough as it is, and even more rare for members of the LGBTQ+ community. How do we know for sure if those stunning strangers are actually into us or just eyeing our cute outfits?
Thus, the world of online dating began, and since more and more people are meeting on the Internet or apps anyway, why not continue to use technology to our benefit during quarantine? Enter distance dating! I am married, so this option is off the table for me, but I have to admit, as someone who never really loved dating to begin with, the idea sounds quite appealing. Instead of the traditional messaging leading to texting leading to meeting up in a well lit, public area only after giving at least one friend your exact location and the name and phone number of the person you are meeting, why not just keep it virtual?
So many of my single friends have loved getting to know new people over video calls instead of going out on traditional dates. Not only is there less pressure to get all dolled up (blame those blemishes on poor camera quality!), there is also an added level of safety. I know quite a few people who have felt the need to video chat prior to accepting a first date, but have felt so awkward requesting it that they often have gone to meet up without it, hoping the other person is who they said they would be.
Oftentimes everything turns out just fine and the date goes really well. Sometimes, though, it’s not until the end of the date when some tension can arise if you want to go home (alone) but your date keeps strongly suggesting otherwise. Distance dating eliminates being put in these uncomfortable situations and allows for genuine connections to be made prior to even meeting up in person.
Being LGBTQ+, there’s also an added layer of not only ensuring comfort with your date but also your surroundings and the other people in them. How were you supposed to know that your waiter was going to be homophobic? How annoying are the stares from the people at the next table trying to figure out which end of their perceived gender spectrum you fit on? And how frustrating is the guy that feels the need to comment about how beautiful you and your date are … and then asks to join in? Even the most confident and secure individuals can be thrown off by these situations, especially on a first date. All of those distractions are eliminated by distance dating, allowing you to focus only on your date, which is so important in the beginning stages of getting to know each other!
On the other hand, what about those already in relationships forced into quarantine away from their partners? For so many LGBTQ+ people, their main support system consists of friends and chosen family outside of the home, especially their partners. Romantic partners can be the grounding force and the main source of love and acceptance for many members of the LGBTQ+ community, sometimes being the only person to whom their partner is “out.”
Being stuck in quarantine without one’s partner, especially if it’s in an unsupportive environment with homophobic parents or household members can definitely provide a challenge. Them.us provides an awesome list of ways to help navigate through this new challenge of seemingly being thrust into a long-distance relationship.
As someone who has been in a long-distance relationship, I can attest to the fact that it is hard work, and I can only imagine how much harder it is when a relationship turns long distance unexpectedly. I know people who are literally minutes away from each other but might as well be thousands of miles apart. Video chats have been a lifesaver for these couples. Modern technology allows for them to have scheduled date nights where they can eat dinner “together” and recap their days. It allows them to maintain more of the intimacy of a face-to-face conversation that cannot be replicated over the phone or via text. (Sidenote - A fun twist on a virtual date night is to order take out to be delivered to each other at an agreed upon time, because let’s face it, who really likes to decide what they are going to eat for dinner anyway?)
Regardless of whether you are trying to start a new relationship or maintain an existing one, quarantine does not have to put a damper on your love life. Living in the current digital age allows us to create and foster connections even when we are physically apart. While some of the intimacy associated with in-person meetups might be lost (a solid hug at the end of a long day is sometimes exactly what we might need), there is something to be said about how distance dating allows for the strengthening of verbal communication skills, which I think everyone can constantly be building upon. If we take this time to learn how we and others best communicate, I can only imagine dating and relationships being even better once quarantine is lifted.
Lastly, join our Pride and Joy community for more discussions like these and connection with LGBTQ+ families and their allies.
Written by Gabrielle Ackerman - a caffeine-drinking, adventure-seeking 28-year-old mom and wife. I was born and raised in Jersey City, NJ, just 10 minutes outside of Manhattan. I lived and worked in New Jersey as an educator, until my wife and I decided to move our family west to Idaho, where she is originally from, to allow me to transition to being a stay-at-home mom.