If you were Stranded on a Deserted Island: Sex for Singles During Coronavirus
My last date was nearly ten weeks ago, and I can’t help but ponder how Covid-19 will change the dating scene. I’m not a dating app kind of person (maybe I will be soon, since the grocery store scene isn’t panning out); but will all of these pre-corona Tinder hookups my friends talk about even exist after lockdown? I can’t imagine a stranger touching me without a mask and gloves.
I may pre-screen dates with one of those checklists like the guards at the military base where I work: “In the past 14 days, have you had a cough, fever or body aches? Have you been diagnosed with covid-19? Have you been in contact with anyone diagnosed with covid-19? No? You may proceed.”
I think I’ll end up choosing my mask before a date as carefully as I do my underwear. The surgical mask is really the equivalent of granny panties — practical and safe. While the N95 might make me look more intellectual, it could also come across as arrogant. Is there such a thing as a sexy mask, one that’s offered in a bikini cut or thong? And is my date even worthy of my unmasking? Will slowly unlacing the strings entice him, or should I get one I can rip right off?
As a single woman, I miss hugging, kissing and all the savory goodness it leads to. I miss the electricity of someone simply touching my shoulder or, oh, god, brushing my hair away from my face.
At the same time, I’m wary of post-corona dating. Any chance of a good-night kiss will have to be vetted through a corona-tracking app. If a guy comes near my face with his hand I may instinctively jump back six feet. Yet, I can’t worry about the Black Mirror-esque dating world until I get there.
I am almost an empty-nester, standing alone on the brink of this scary, thrilling transitory time in my life. Before coronavirus, I could see vaguely into the void and was equipping myself to rappel into it. But for almost ten weeks now, there has been no kind of job interview, no apartment hunting, no drinking a bottle of wine (or two) with a friend, and certainly there have been no dates.
With both of my teens preparing to launch, in a couple of years I will have no one to care for besides the dog, and I don’t want to end up the cliched middle-aged woman, desperately seeking a man to fulfill my happiness. I can only make a wise choice in partnership if I have a strong sense of who I am. This quest has been harder than my climb up Kala Patthar, because since the age of 20, I’ve been wearing borrowed gear — and to get to 18,000 feet, you need boots that fit.
I’ve been listening to the podcasts of Michaela Boehm and just read her book, “The Wild Woman’s Way.” In it, Boehm encourages us to rediscover our Wild Woman archetype and to embody the parts of us that often get avalanched by life. Boehm explains:
“It means discovering who we are when all the “should’s” and “have-to’s” are stripped away, and how we express when we don’t strive to be someone we are not meant to be.”
I’m certain when she wrote it, Boehm had no idea the “should’s” and “have-to’s” would be stripped away world-wide. Like many others, I find myself in a place where there are few things I have to do. If I want to stay in bed all day eating chips and watching Netflix, I can. There are no school drop-offs, no play rehearsals, no classes at the gym — and no partner to check on me. The only thing I really have to do is walk the dog in the morning, but that’s only because he insists.
The truly enlightening thing about these Wild Woman ideas has been Boehm’s thoughts on self-pleasure. For years I believed self-pleasure was not only adultery (whether you’re married or not — because you would be ‘cheating on’ a potential husband) but also homosexuality (it IS girl on girl, or guy on guy, technically). Adultery and homosexuality are two powerful words that, in the eyes of the church, would send me straight to hell. Even entertaining those thoughts could cast me into the pit of fire.
Shedding those ill-fitting constraints allows me to explore my sexual side, which also means being free from dependance on a partner. My former legalistic biblical beliefs kept me bound in a system where the God/Husband controlled my personal pleasure. There is strength in tossing that tight-fitting belief into the bin. One of my favorite movie lines is when Wonder Woman explains to Steve: “When it comes to procreation, men are essential, but for pleasure, not necessary.”
While I do agree men are not essential for pleasure, I have also come to realize there are certain itches I like to have scratched, which is why I’m one of the assholes who ordered a new dildo during lockdown.
Self-pleasure isn’t just about working yourself into an explosion of oxytocin and dopamine. It’s about being fulfilled within yourself, so when you stand on that deserted island, you can choose who will be there with you, rather than hastily pull out the first survivor floating by on a piece of driftwood.
This theoretical island question has never taken on so much practicality as it has in the past few months. Even previously happy couples are now questioning their choice of fellow castaways.
If find yourself on that deserted island we call Singleness, who, if anyone, would you choose to be there with you?
Equip yourself to answer wisely.