Love in the time of coronavirus

Phone sex, coffee Skypes and phantom heartbreaks

Shefali O'Hara
3 min readMar 13, 2020


Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Dating. A masochistic social ritual we endure because we hope for a pair bond. Or a one-night stand. Or something in between. Self-inflicted emotional angst we go through because we crave connection.

We modern people in our modern cities, we’re still just primates after all. We need to touch and be touched. We want to mate.

Once upon a time we had the dating ritual. Man likes woman. Woman smiles at man. Encouraged, he asks her out. She says yes. He picks her up. He buys her a meal or a drink or a ticket to the movies. After, she decides to kiss him. Or not. Or maybe she invites him inside….

Millennials find these rituals antiquated, or so I’ve heard. They hook up. Or hang out. Or meet up.

Dating apps and feminism have changed the rituals. Now women can ask men out, and they’ll pay for the meal, or split the check, or buy popcorn if he gets the movie tickets.

He no longer picks her up. If they met on an app, she feels safer to meet in a public place. It’s less romantic but practical.

Is dating a dying art?

Though the process has changed, the basics remain. People meet. They enjoy something fun. A kiss might occur, saliva exchanged, or something more. Anticipation and angst still occur.

But what happens when schools are closed and countries quarantined? Is Covid-19 the final nail in the coffin for dating?

According to this article, in Italy, you are no longer allowed to drink your espresso at the counter and must use a large shopping cart to maintain a safe distance. In Austin, we cancelled SXSW. My mother is worried every time I go out to meet a friend. It’s dangerous, she says.

We used to date during flu season. We went to concerts and movies and bars and festivals. We would hug and kiss or at least shake hands good-bye.

People don’t shake hands anymore. Too dangerous.

What does this do for our love lives?

How do we find love in the age of Coronavirus?

Do we swipe right to Skype? Pour drinks in our own homes while we gaze at each other…



Shefali O'Hara

Cancer survivor, writer, engineer. BSEE from MIT, MSEE, and MA in history. Love nature, animals, books, art, and interesting discussions.