Let me preface this article by saying that I wasn’t looking for Love in the Time of Corona. In fact, I was trying to avoid love, or at least the straight kind. I went through an incredibly messy breakup just half a year ago — in the middle of my first quarantine of 2020. As a newly out(-ish) bisexual, I thought there was no better place than the Gay Ivy (the Bi-vy?) to try new things and explore my identity. But life had other plans for me.
It was my first day out of the two-day post-arrival quarantine, and just like that, there he was. “Mel!” he exclaimed in my direction as we sat on the socially distanced acorn stencils of the Silliman courtyard. Who was this guy under the mask, and how did he know my name, I silently wondered, trying to gracefully eat a plum without choking while we spoke. Two hours of sparkling conversation later, I retreated to my dorm for a FroCo Zoom meeting. I was relating my encounter with Mystery Man to my suitemates when suddenly, he popped up on our screen: He’d been in my FroCo group all along. The mystery was solved. I scoured the Yale Facebook for him, and sure enough, there he was. But there was a catch — even with all my internet research skills, I couldn’t seem to find him anywhere on social media. At that moment, I decided I needed to find my Cinderella again, and as luck would have it, he walked up to me the very next day in the courtyard. I shot my shot by asking for his Snap, and that secured the deal in my mind: We were officially in a flirtationship.
Things continued to steadily progress. Right after our final FroCo meeting, he popped the question on Snapchat, in true Gen Z fashion: “no pressure but do u wanna make ur first outing next wednesday a bit of a date?” Pleasantly surprised, I immediately said yes. After that, the last week of my quarantine moved painfully slowly. How could I devote my energy to the second week of Zoom University when I knew I was imminently introducing a possible romantic prospect into my COVID pod? All we had were socially distanced hangouts, sitting in the buttery, six feet apart. By the actual day of my release from quarantine, I was an angsty mess.
And so the honeymoon phase of my corona-tionship began. A socially distanced date wasn’t even that exciting after having spent 14 days already getting to know each other with absolutely no chance of physical contact, but we valiantly tried to recreate a normal American teenage experience by eating ice cream together at Cross Campus. We decided embarrassingly quickly that maybe it would be nicer to get to know each other without masks (gasp!) in my room. Bringing someone into my pod and consensually unmasking (as permitted by Yale’s meticulously detailed guidelines) made me feel oddly like a normal college student in the otherwise bizarre year of 2020.
One morning, a week after the initial date, I woke up with an inexplicable sense of dread: Had I cuffed too soon? Was this guy the right pod partner for me, or had I emotionally committed to a loveless corona marriage just weeks into the semester? Would I never date again? Had I limited myself from fully exploring my bisexuality and ending up with a cute girl I could raise a litter of cats with? In a desperate search for answers, I turned to my Instagram “Close Friends” story. Sure enough, a common theme emerged in the responses: As I had suspected, I was being stupid. Standout advice included “you’re literally 18 you’re not getting married,” “try a threesome!!! THEN see how you feel” (this was a crude joke) and most importantly, “take things slow! keep it light and breezy!” I realized at this stage that a) all hope was not lost and b) I was mostly in a pit of despair not because of my confusing newborn situationship, but because Math 120 is REALLY HARD and I had committed to 5 different extracurriculars. Perhaps what I truly feared was not emotional commitment to another person, but rather being married to my work — food for thought, Yalies? Just me?
I was also reassured by the realization that I wasn’t the only one plunging headfirst into cuffing season. On my first outing with my suitemates, I saw at least three newly forming couples awkwardly lunching at Broadway Island. Beyond that, my short-lived dating app exploits at Yale culminated in seeing another guy in my FroCo group on Tinder and a mortifying exchange with a friend who stumbled across my Bumble profile. Once I saw that this digital wasteland was all I was missing out on, my fears of losing out on college hookup culture were completely assuaged.
Present day. To date, we’ve managed to sidestep the “what ARE we” conversation at least five times, because screw it — if it ain’t broke, why fix it? And yes, before you ask: I am always happy to provide (highly questionable) relationship advice.
Melissa Adams | firstname.lastname@example.org