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Dating in 2020

By David Wheeler

Illustration by David Wheeler

It’s important to demarcate specific periods of time in 2020, since being quarantined in your home indefinitely has rendered the concept of time virtually meaningless. One way we measure time is by going to our balconies once every 7 days to record our neighbours ritualistically applauding the sacrifice of health care workers on our iPhones. If you’re not sure how long 7 days is you can just hum the happy birthday song 60,480 times. Any more specific time measurements than this have been replaced with the phrase: It’s always 5 o’clock somewhere. Yesterday was leftovers and an entire season of The Leftovers day, tomorrow is too frightening to think about, but tonight... is date night.

You’ve probably been so excited that you picked out your outfit and started wearing it over two sacrifice- applause cycles ago. You’ve washed your hands and wrists and you’re looking hot! Like, seriously do you have a temperature? You should probably wash your hands again.

Historically, dating was a pastime that involved two people leaving their homes and spending time within 6 feet of one another, since both of these are outlawed in 2020 dating must now be a solitary enterprise. But that’s no reason you can’t still have a good time. If you’re not concerned about the possibility of society collapsing and the power going off, you can waste an emergency candle to set the mood. And since it’s always 5 o’clock somewhere is in effect, you may want to continue drinking wine and washing your hands.

Properly lubricated and sterilised, it’s time to eat. Food can go either of two ways in 2020. Either you’ve dedicated your entire life to mastering food preparation, you make your own pasta and probably have your own online cooking show, or you’re living off increasingly unpalatable combinations of non-perishable food you stockpiled during the first wave. Either way, the experience of dining in 2020 is always noteworthy by how far from normal the quality of the food is.

What is conversation like when dating in 2020? You’ll probably start off with current events, maybe some world news, I’m sure Italy will come up. One of the benefits of becoming a single topic species is that having a conversation with an actual person is now indistinguishable from just listening to the thoughts bouncing around in your own head. Sure, an actual, separate other human being might have a vague awareness of their hobbies and interests from the before-times, adding a unique flavour to the way they talk about the COVID-19 pandemic. They might have had a completely opposing view on Brexit to yours, or maybe they loved or hated or have never heard of Love Island. Those things are a distant blur now, a dim glow behind the cracks in their recounting of what they heard about COVID-19 on the news today.

More hand washing, then it’s off to the bedroom for an entire season of Breaking Bad and some persistent dry coughing. If you’re lucky, we’ll still be here tomorrow and there will be an opportunity for a second date.


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