We asked Newcastle students to share their dating during lockdown stories

Do social distanced first dates work?

Since lockdown we have been plunged into this unfamiliar new realm of no-touch dating. Amusingly, students who fled home found themselves reverting to their 16-year-old selves, texting their “crush” from their childhood bedroom. Whilst “isolating together” seems to be the new relationship milestone for couples, it really is a strange time to be single. 

But considering that we can no longer meet for after-uni pints or dinner and a movie, dates are becoming more creative. From distanced dog walks to recruiting a quarantine boyfriend, we checked in with four Newcastle students, who shared what it’s like to date during lockdown.

“Looking for a quarantine boyfriend”

Faced with the impending doom of social isolation, Alice decided to take action and find herself a “quarantine boyfriend”.

“The uni was sending out emails asking everyone to pack up their belongings and leave halls if they can. So I thought to myself: yeah okay fine, but I need to find a fit northern lad because lockdown is pending. I hopped on Tinder, changed my bio to ‘looking for a quarantine boyfriend’ and eventually swiped right on this boy who used to go to Northumbria.

“He messaged me saying he would quarantine with me but also informed me that he had tested positive for the rona. We still ended up talking and under normal circumstances, I might have met up with him once or twice before going home, but as he was contagious I had to leave before I had the chance.

“So I’m all the way home on the other side of the country and he’s up in Newcastle and we have spoken every day since and there are definitely some big old feelings involved. I’m going to drive up to see him next week after my exam, so by the time that day comes, it will have been a whole three months of chatting online without ever actually meeting. That’s literally a whole quarter of a year, I can’t believe it! All thanks to miss rona.

“If it all works out I would maybe even go so far as to say that lockdown was a blessing in disguise.”

“Gonna be hella awks”

Bella unluckily decided to start dating one of her friends just a few weeks before lockdown. She shared her experiences navigating their honeymoon period via FaceTime.

“We would talk all the time. He’d FaceTime me until I fell asleep and would call me up during the day to see if I was okay in quarantine. He never drank but I did, so was always a little tipsy. We would do quizzes and ask each other funny things we could say about each other.”

However, this story didn’t have such a happy ending, as she continued: “Two weeks ago he caused an argument with me over nothing and made an excuse to stop seeing me and hasn’t spoken to me since… he didn’t even wish me a happy birthday. He put a story up saying he was newly single and was bigging it up to his mates. It’s weird not seeing the person for months and it ending over text. I wonder what will happen when I see him after all of this… it’s gonna be hella awks.”

The distanced dog walk

First dates are awkward by nature, but Ella had the smart idea to bring her dog along as an icebreaker.

“It actually started through Tinder”, she explained. “I used to work with him in a pub years ago but we both had partners at the time.

“We just took my dog to the local national park. We followed the main routes, spoke about where other good places to walk were and had a couple of beers in the sun for about two hours.”

“It actually didn’t feel any different to be honest,” she told the Newcastle Tab. “If anything, it made it a little less awkward, as you weren’t just sat there trying to think of something to say.”

When asked if the date was a success she replied: “Definitely! We’re planning to see each other again next week.”

“Worth the wait”

“We met at a house party in February at around six in the morning, chatted for ages and he asked me out the next day. We went on a few dates and then bloody lockdown hit!

“At home, we FaceTimed a few times, which was funny because there was literally nothing to say but we still managed to be on the phone for ages.

“I then moved back to uni and it was a bit of an anticlimax because we had been speaking for so long and I was so excited to see him, but then it was just weird seeing him in person.

“My neighbour had asked me to walk his dogs for him, so we biked up to his house, walked the dogs in the park and sat and chatted all day. After the date, we returned the dog and the guy even made us cocktails as a thank you, so we stayed and chatted for like an hour. It was really cute and worth the wait.”

It’s good to see that Newcastle students have become significantly more inventive when recruiting a boyfriend than they normally would be at their time at uni. Clearly, despite having to socially distance from your usual wingman, your dogs can be a pretty great substitute (and are probably less likely to embarrass you too).

All names have been changed and all images are unrelated