As 2020 dawned with the realisation that I was still single at a more advanced age than I had ever contemplated. My life so far has had a few romantic entanglements, but with a much greater emphasis on the word few.
Yes, I have been in some relationships, but never had one reached the point where we moved in together. In those early days of last year, I was determined to do something about it, break out of the unrewarding state of perma-bachelorhood I had found myself in. 2020 though had other plans.
For me I had always struggled with asking girls out. I often felt that I’d missed out an acquiring a basic skill, that there must have been some lessons at school that I’d unknowingly skipped…there’d probably been some sessions on talking bollox about sport that would have come in handy as well.
As the years progressed so did the apparent difficulty in getting a first date. In bars up and down the land groups of girls effortlessly formed themselves into defensive diamonds, swatting off advances with practiced ease to the point where most men I knew didn’t even bother. At first online dating appeared to be an ideal solution, until it quickly developed into a strange land with it’s own language and rituals seemingly detached from the real world.
I started speed dating some years ago, and for me I found this the ideal environment. It’s true that there were many more misses than hits, but there were enough hits to keep the faith and enough dates and repeat dates to keep me going.
For 2020 then I’d planned an unprecedented assault on my single status. Not only would I ensure that I put more effort in, attending more events…after all there is someone out there for everyone, but they can take a bit of finding. I would also work on myself, eating better, losing excess pounds, dressing and grooming better. This all whilst studying a foreign language, reading improving books and watching films with more subtitles and less explosions.
As the days progressed though the threat from overseas loomed ever more ominously. We quickly went from washing your hands whilst whistling Happy Birthday to wiping out contact with the rest of the human race.
By late March we were pretty much under house arrest with only our electric chums to keep us company. The TV screen showed a world where everyone apparently was having a happy lockdown apart from me. News crews reported on merry streets clapping for the NHS, adverts showed joyful, smiling families all excited about the joys of exploring the airing cupboard.
My experience though was less uplifting, partly I suspect as I had no airing cupboard to explore. Most nights I’d simply watch TV whilst doom scrolling ludicrous amounts of content on Twitter. Occasionally instead I’d mix various different coloured liquors together to see what the results would be. The drinks might be different, but the results were strikingly similar, a few hours spent listening to music and then try to flirt with my Alexa. That was fun even if her answers felt somewhat mechanical.
Around May I looked to pull myself out of this 7-foot-deep rut I’d found myself in and looked to do something proactive. I signed up for several virtual speed dating sessions. My biggest worry at the time was that being virtual not only would it be me being judged but also my accommodation. I was going to use a background, but in the end didn’t bother, just moved the laptop so the camera was facing the wall rather than the window, find fault with that suckers.
I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the experiences. It was great talking to new people, and it also made it feel like you weren’t drinking on your own…a novel feeling during those days.
I had several matches, but nothing came of them unfortunately as I just didn’t know what to do if we couldn’t actually meet up. Now I realise I should have put more thought and effort into it, if they liked me and I liked them perhaps we could have done more virtual activities together, cocktail making, watching movies and talking about them after. I can’t be too hard on myself though as we were all learning.
Since the first lockdown ended I’ve tried to get back into things, but there’s always been a feeling that restrictions never were properly lifted. People even during the summer were wary of meeting up, and as rules started tightening again during the autumn it became harder still.
Now we’re into our third lockdown and I’m finding this one the hardest of all. Last spring for all it’s inconvenience at least had the benefit of novelty and the hope (misguided) that it would all be over soon. Now the routine has become wearily familiar, excitement provide by the odd dash to Tesco or seeing what the postman’s brought today.
I try to vary things by getting in touch with old friends and acquaintances for calls, but either they’re far too happy which seems to wind me up or about as miserable as me which is not as satisfying as I thought it would be. I’ve even tried to track down old flames, but most of them seem to be in hiding.
What is keeping me going is knowing that some day sooner or later, but hopefully sooner, this will be over. I’m booking meals out for dates that are often far too ambitiously soon. Looking at holidays for the autumn and next year and yes planning on losing weight, improving my groom and perhaps watching something without Bruce Willis in it. Because you know tomorrow is going to be a better day.
Words by Alex Lone