Love in a time of Coronavirus COVID-19

We’re watching the stock market crash, talk of schools and universities being closed, and we’re being urged to stay indoors, alone in our houses, away from gatherings. So what does this mean for our dating lives?

Daily, in my country, we’re told of firstly, the new pandemic status, secondly, how it’s currently affecting our nation, and thirdly, what it means to the economy, specifically the world stock markets and workplaces.

There are scary facts to digest about how the unprecedented virus has affected other nations, like China, where it began in Wuhan, and Iran, and now Italy. Today the United States closed its borders to travellers from Europe. Large sporting and cultural events have been cancelled, there is still talk of postponing the Olympics – where will end?

Of course, we all hope that we or our loved ones don’t become infected and confined to our houses or a hospital, or even worse, that we are among the small percentage of people who have a serious or life-threatening response to COVID-19.

Coronavirus meme

But in the meantime, now and in the coming months, life will go on.

We will still want to eat out, meet people, date and get intimate. Or are we facing an unparalleled change to the way we meet and mate? Will it still feel safe to meet in a crowded bar or go see a band?

The world Novel Coronavirus Situation shows us the number of cases updated weekly. At the time of writing, there have been almost 128,000 confirmed cases, just over 4,700 deaths and 118 countries affected. Importantly, more than 68,000 have recovered!

There’s talk of the virus being spread through breathing the same air in the same room as someone with COVID-19, which is a vastly different scenario than the common cold or seasonal influenza that is spread through infected droplets and direct transmission.

If, as is currently thought, “multiple modes of transmission are likely at play, including large droplets, small droplets (or aerosols), and contaminated hands,” social and intimate activities like dating will pose even greater risks than usual.

So I did a quick Google on ‘spreading germs through kissing’.

It was never something I thought about in the heat of the moment on a hot date, and certainly not when I was lusting for someone via their profile on a dating app.

In Here’s How Many Bacteria Spread Through One Kiss, Time Magazine says that a 10-second French kiss can spread 80 million bacteria between mouths. And that’s not even considering viruses like the common cold, seasonal influenza and sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia.

Expanding on this theme, kissing can spread many germs including those that cause tooth decay and glandular fever – known as the Kissing Disease – and viruses considered part of the Herpes family including Epstein-Barr, varicella-zoster (Chickenpox) and Herpes Simplex (cold sores).

Kissing may also transmit Hepatitis B through saliva and warts. Euwww… 

If we want to get really scary, mention Meningococcal disease, “a potentially life-threatening condition that includes meningitis, inflammation of the membranes (meninges) that surround the brain and spinal cord, and septicaemia. These bacteria can be spread either through direct contact or via droplets. Studies show that…only deep kissing seems to be a risk factor.”

But on the upside, if you make it to ‘couple’ status, you can expect to have your germs merge somewhat:

“Apparently, being with somebody for an extended amount of time and having a relationship leads to a similar collection of bacteria on the tongue.”

Studies have shown that the more a couple kisses, the more bacteria they share. So kissing is actually a very healthy activity – I will be sharing that snippet with my beloved! “Kissing might also act as a form of immunization, he adds, allowing you to build up resistance from exposing yourself to more microorganisms.”

Passionate kissing is also known to create many other health and wellbeing benefits, like emotional bonding, stress reduction, foreplay – deep kissing your partner can lead to sexual intercourse, which “enhances a person’s physical and mental health”.

And kissing is said to provide a metabolic boost by burning kilojoules, plus it gives us a healthier mouth by increasing saliva, which contains substances that fight bacteria, viruses and fungi. Overall, kissing can increase immunity through exposure to germs that inhabit your partner’s mouth.

The Germy Truth About Kissing urges us to read up before we pucker up. “The human mouth contains more bacteria than there are people on the planet (that’s close to 7 billion,” the article declares.

Their upside is that “Germs exist throughout our bodies, not to mention all over the environment around us. And germs aren’t all bad.”

Is there such a thing as Safe Kissing?

Prevention is the key, which means looking out for signs of illness in your kissing partner – consider asking if they have a history of getting cold sores, if that can be done inoffensively – and then using common sense.

If you’re wanting to passionately kiss someone who’s ill, you’ll likely catch it too. Or they could be an asymptomatic carrier unbeknownst to them, like a recent ex who I suspect was a carrier of the Streptococcus bacteria, as over our two-year relationship, I regularly caught tonsillitis after a date with him.

Some definite no-no’s include kissing someone with an active cold sore, warts or mouth ulcers. Maintaining good oral hygiene is essential.

Lest we all become terrified of the potential effect of COVID-19 on our dating and social lives, best remember that the standard, ‘seasonal influenza’ has reached 29 million cases, with related deaths numbering 16,000 in America alone.

“While the numbers may seem incredibly high, they are not out of the ordinary. The CDC reports that the hospitalization rate is similar to that of recent seasons, and overall deaths related to flu have been low.”

I’d love to know your thoughts on whether COVID-19 has affected or is likely to affect your dating life!


PS – Keeping it light and if you get a chance to watch the hilarious ‘sex in hazmat suits’ video meme, take it!

Since I wrote this post there have been so many posts around the world exploring this strange and uncertain time. Here are a just few that have crossed my path: