The COVID-19 pandemic has radically changed our day-to-day lives, including dating – no more meet cutes at the train stop, date nights in bars or one-night stands after the club. Of course, we’re all still human and looking for some kind of connection, so it’s not like dating has gone by the wayside. But how are we supposed to create connections when we can’t even meet up?
We chatted with Jack from Come As You Are, a co-operative feminist sex shop in Toronto, about how to date during a pandemic, making long-distance hookups hot and ways you can use this time to get in touch with your own sexuality.
The PRSNLS: Let’s talk dating during a pandemic. If you’re single, one of your only options for dating right now is through online dating – think that’s a drag for some people?
Come As You Are: I actually think this is the best possible time to date online, for a couple of reasons. There are still lots of people out there who are like, “meet me in the park in five minutes.” What a wonderful way to weed out the folks who don’t actually take health, sexual health and STIs seriously! Are you willing to have a casual hookup in a park in five minutes? You’re probably not someone who’s really great at negotiating around safer sex either. Secondly, the depth of communication and the intimacy you can foster with someone you’re chatting with is on a different level than it usually is. People are usually focused just on meeting up very soon, but now everyone is taking their time and really learning about each other and sharing what they want sexually.
PRSNLS: And taking the time to talk more about what they want is a good thing!
Come As You Are: This opportunity to explore deeper relationships is amazing! Also, the anticipation is amazing. When you think about sexual desire and fantasy, how we foster sexual desire, how we make sex more exciting – there’s nothing like delayed gratification to really get the juices flowing. I can only imagine when social distancing is over how intense those sexual relationships will end up being.
PRSNLS: What about people who have maybe never tried online dating, and their first time is during the pandemic? What would your advice be for them?
Come As You Are: The most important thing, I think, with online dating or hookup apps, is to keep your expectations in check. Not so much not forming high expectations, but being really open to all sorts of relationships and opportunities. Don’t go into a dating app or hookup app with a specific expectation that ‘I want a person who’s this tall’ or ‘I want to have this type of relationship.’ One of the great things that I found online dating is the breadth of different relationships that can form. Not even just hookups or dating, but also the friendships that you can find. This pandemic is such a great opportunity to explore all sorts of different people with less pressure.
PRSNLS: What are the trends you’re seeing in sales through Come As You Are during the COVID-19 pandemic? Does anything stand out?
Come As You Are: One of the big ones we’re seeing is people engaging in solo sex and exploration, you can tell by the books and types of toys they are buying. Exploring your sexuality does take a time investment and in everyday life, it’s hard to make for it. I’m also seeing online that people have really run through Netflix, they don’t know what to do next and some are taking the time to invest in themselves and their sexuality.
PRSNLS: What’s something that sex partners can do if they’re separated at this time, whether they’re long-term or a new hookup, to keep that sexual connection?
Come As You Are: The number one trend we’re seeing is in that category is couples buying remote control toys. If they can’t be together, but phone sex isn’t enough, we’re seeing a lot more people investing in toys that can be controlled remotely over the internet, and people are talking about watching porn over video chat or just having video sex. I do wonder if we’ll see continued investment in these kinds of toys after the pandemic, now that people know what’s possible.
PRSNLS: Any last words on hookups and dating during a pandemic?
Come As You Are: I think that if you are lucky enough that you’ve got a little bit of space to explore– I hesitate to be preachy – but what a wonderful opportunity to transform your life!