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:


Another Midlife Dating Adventure – Ian the Octopus

You know that tingly feeling you get when things are going well? The warm sensation in your stomach (or loins), the flutter of hope that maybe this one might amount to something worth having or worth keeping?


I had that feeling at a key point and thereafter, while chatting with 52-year-old Ian on POF. It wasn’t instant. He grew on me and within a short time, after he’d installed kik so we could chat in relative harmony there, it happened.

I can remember the moment exactly. He’d slept an entire day after a mammoth Saturday at work that started frighteningly early and ended in the arctic winter hours after 7.00pm. He’d stayed tucked up in bed all warm and cosy the following Sunday, and I’d asked him how he’d kept himself occupied while awake.

Stupid question really – but any woman knows that if the can of worms is going to be opened by the mention of words such as ‘bed’, ‘naked’ or obviously, ‘sex’ we might as well cut to the chase and get it over with. At this stage of my dating journey I’ve pretty much lost interest in sexting or sexy talk via text. Especially unannounced dickpics. For a couple of years there I gave sexting and erotic tales a red hot go, but now it’s a case of ‘yeah-no’.

You could say it was a bit of a test by asking a leading question, and I was mildly pleased when he didn’t rise to the bait and immediately switch the conversation to a dick pic or boring assertions about how much he’d like to have me between the sheets.

After a bit of back and forth, he asked me my favourite things to do in bed when not in the land of nod.
“That would be reading a book, unless I had company,” I said.
“And then what would it be?” he asked.
“Then it would be lots of kissing, touching and exploring sensuality together.”

There was a noticeable change in mood between us and our exchange heated up a few degrees. I sensed that I’d touched a nerve or a strong desire for intimacy, not just sex, but genuine physical intimacy. This is emphatically what I want. I am directly my energies towards finding a partner who can meet my needs for a deeply satisfying emotional and physical, sensuous connection.

And so when Ian became slightly besotted by me after this point, naturally I began to think that perhaps he might fill the gap I’d created in my own mind for a potential partner. A step up from lover, and a whole ladder up from a sex date.

We chatted daily on kik, and I was pleased that he wasn’t the kind of guy who wanted to (or indeed, could) text all day from work. I wanted to save some of that energy and conversation for the real thing. I made two suggestions to meet face to face; the first he agreed to without actually getting out our diaries to find a date, but the second he committed.

A Friday evening at a local hotel (in other words an upmarket renovated old pub) not too far from my house was the time and place set for our rendezvous. It was a long drive after work for him on a freakishly stormy, filthy winter’s night. We messaged a couple of hours before to check in and yes, it was still on.

I felt unfamiliar nerves. This was a proper date – night time and at my request it was drinks, not dinner – and I dressed carefully with an eye on how he might perceive me. I’d said to him previously that I wouldn’t want to disappoint him, based on his imagination going into overdrive after seeing a few photos of me.

He was obsessing over one particular photo of me in a tight, black tank top in my kitchen, all hot and sweaty post dog walking. He hadn’t asked for any further pics and especially not any nudes, so that was a good sign. I’m so over those guys and I didn’t want Ian to be one of them.

I arrived at the hotel and saw him waiting for me by the back entrance, where we’d arranged to meet. I’d seen three or four photos of him, but he still looked like a stranger because in the flesh everything is different. He was shorter than I thought (definitely not 5ft11 as he’d stated). He looked smart and clean and I liked him immediately.

We smiled like Cheshire cats and greeted each other with wide open arms. Straight away he kissed me on the mouth and we melted together for several glorious minutes. It was a genuine, passionate welcome – and boy could this guy press my buttons! I was there, believe me, feeling those soft lips and that exploratory tongue. The pheromones were in overdrive!

I’d decided to change my MO and this time, be totally myself, no holds barred. Not that I’m ever a cold fish, but often I am reserved and I have a certain front, as we all do. Mine is self-contained, polite and friendly.

I know I can be intense and freak some people out when I’m on an emotional high. When my connected, super-power Gregarious Introvert is in full swing, I can be charming and extremely tactile. This time, I wanted to be tactile, in fact I couldn’t stop touching him.

I was thrilled that he totally reciprocated. For our entire three hours together our skins were never apart in some form – holding hands, stroking hands, stroking my skin in intimate places. Through our clothes – since we were in a public place – stroking our backs, our legs, even our faces. It was an incredibly charged evening of pure touch, the highlight of which was the sensuous and passionate kissing.

We’d made a beeline for a small intimate room with a log fire, soft armchairs and a couch. Of course we nestled on that couch and got to know each other, interspersed with kissing. He was demonstrative, affectionate and it felt amazing. I was most definitely in an elevated mood, letting down my barriers and throwing all caution to the wind. I was letting him see a genuine, direct and fearless version of myself, helped along by the gin-and-tonic he’d bought me.

“I can see you’re not used to compliments,” I said, nuzzling his cheek. I knew he’d been married for close to 30 years and that this was his first official date as a separated man of three years. I asked him when he’d last had a compliment.
“Twenty-eight years ago,” he said drily.

He was indeed a fairly typical, shy Aussie male. Married very young, with four kids mostly grown up, a civil but icy relationship with the ex, a middle management job in a factory that bored him, but one that he’d stuck with for three decades.

We had almost nothing in common, but it didn’t seem to matter, because we had this! These sparks flying off us, this song in my heart and this thrilling softness, a mutual lingering of tender kisses and interplaying tongues, a physical connection that I have so rarely felt.

Oh we did talk of course, and I did most of the legwork (no surprise there). It was flowing but definitely fuelled by the physical bond. My feelings of warm, fuzzy wellbeing enveloped me.

Even when we sat in separate chairs because the couch was so bloody uncomfortable, we both instinctively reached out to hold hands and pushed our chairs closer together. His hands did wander and the strange thing is that I did not mind one iota! His hands on my breasts and playing with my nipples through my dress were exquisite. He knew exactly how to arouse me both with his mouth, and his fingertips.

During several make-out sessions he even slid his hand inside my bra, while I moaned quietly in his ear and giggled. Later we both laughed about security cameras in the room – I hoped there weren’t any!

Once, while we were talking about something fairly mundane, he pulled me to him and held me close in a tight hug for a full two or three minutes. Then he nestled silently on my neck. It was an intimate moment that led me to launch those tender hopes. Maybe this one, this attractive age-appropriate guy, might evolve into something good, a worthwhile relationship that we would define on our own terms. Our kids were at a similar stage and though he was an active dad with a busy job, we decided that we could potentially share Friday nights and Sundays together.

When we grew tired and the hotel began to pack up for the evening, we headed for our cars. Just one pash goodbye was not enough. His hands wandered freely over my body, squeezing my breasts, my arse and holding me so closely to him that we both laughed in vocal arousal. We made plans to continue during part two, tentatively arranged for the Sunday.

“I’ll be dreaming about you tonight for sure, Silky,” he messaged me at home. (Silky was his brand-new pet name for me, which made me chuckle every time he used it).

We texted some more before I headed to bed, still on a high, to dream about him, and to cautiously hope for something deeper to develop. It was looking good, the signs were there, the passion was there….

And so you’ll understand my confusion and disappointment now – even my irritation and disgust.

What sort of a person behaves like this and then ghosts – disappears without a word?

How hard is it to say, “I’m sorry but things got out of hand and I’ve changed my mind.” Or, “I thought I wanted something with you but I’ve realized x, y or z and it won’t work.” How hard is it to do the decent thing and just tell someone that what’s just begun is in fact, over already?

Clearly it’s too difficult for Ian, and that’s what hurts.

I gave him a piece of myself, he took it, lapped it up and filled his need even if just for a few hours, and then he shut me out and pretended that I don’t exist.

It didn’t happen immediately. That Sunday he’d had to run errands with his kids and by the Monday evening I felt that the reduced frequency of texts and the lack of a response to my message (when I’d put the ball in his court to make the next move) was significant.

I felt it in the pit of my stomach that something was wrong, and sure enough when I checked on him over at POF, he was active on the site. I sent him a cheeky message, deciding that confrontation was the clearest approach. “Should I assume that you don’t want to see me again?”

A few minutes later he quit out of the site, so I didn’t know if he’d read it. I left it another day then decided to text him direct, asking him to at least tell me if he’d had a change of heart. Nothing.

I’m a big girl, of course I will cope. But it’s a low blow to be so disrespected, especially after sharing an intimate part of myself with him.

All the signs were there, so I’m left wondering what his side of the story is, and whether I did anything to cause this disappointing Radio Silence. What’s worse is that he’s blocked me on Plenty of Fish and his profile is still active.


Note: Names have not been changed, yes he really is called Ian. I think he’s forfeited the right to a pseudonym!

Note for Aussies: The really scary thing is that I’ve realised in hindsight that Ian is a dead ringer for our prime minister!