Wearing a mask during sex is the new kink. Can dating handle it?

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35.5 million.

This is the current virus count worldwide as Ontario’s second wave is underway.

With certain hotspots reverting back to specific phase two restrictions, the idea of a lockdown is not too far behind. However, what would that look like today with all the new information we’ve since discovered?

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More and more restrictions are seeping into every part of our lives requiring a level of discipline I don’t believe everyone possess. This will lead to and has led to conspiracy theories questioning the legitimacy of the pandemic, arguably endangering all of our lives. But I understand.

The isolation many faced during the first lockdown was a by-product of a reactionary act. Although it was necessary in hopes of understanding the virus and its very real effects, the lack of social interaction drained the light out of life for many.

Fast forward to today and not much has changed. People are still fatigued from the quarantine and the new rules seem to restrict more leisurely acts than work related ones.

However, not all is lost.

Just as the past quarantine was seen as a moment of reflection for ourselves, let this moment be a reflection for something bigger, perhaps a cultural shift.

I nominate dating.

With the new COVID-19-related rules regarding sex, now is as good a time as any.

According to the Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, it’s best to avoid “face-to-face contact or closeness” during sex, or “consider using a mask that covers the nose and mouth.”

With the mistrust of the government’s handling of COVID-19 already present, I don’t see this recommendation going over well with many. It does however introduce an important conversation, how do you date during a pandemic?

As complicated as the dating world already is, technology has afforded us the opportunity to expand our dating pool outside of our physical confines. It’s easier now to meet people than before if you’re willing to put in the work. Granted, meeting more people doesn’t equate to more meaningful relationships, but it can increase your chances.

COVID-19 restrictions forces us get more creative than the usual rhythm of swipe, match, small talk and eventually meet. Perhaps that means speed dating over zoom or online game nights with friends of friends.

One thing is for sure, there is no changing dating culture without changing what we want from it.

We have long-enjoyed the hookup culture whilst complaining about its effects. It has provided for many the immediate physical and emotional release we all yearn for. But in a time where community is being called upon, we can’t be as selfish as we once were because every individual decision impacts the greater population.

I understand that’s a lot of pressure to put on someone who simply doesn’t want to be alone, but shifting the emphasis from hook ups to creating meaningful online interactions may be the first step in updating what it means to date.

I do believe if taken seriously, this shift has the potential to bolster the overall moral surrounding the new restrictions. This does however require being uncomfortable in an already uncomfortable world, and much like how the rest of this year has been, we have no chose but to adapt.