"The last time I hugged someone was seven weeks ago. Maybe this is what madness feels like."
By
Sarah Malik

8 May 2020 - 12:12 PM  UPDATED 15 May 2020 - 9:09 AM

With 'Love in Lockdown' SBS Voices is exploring how couples and singles are navigating love and relationships during Australia's coronavirus restrictions. In episode three, SBS Voices talks to three singles about how Covid-19 restrictions have changed their love lives. 

"I'm done with dating!"

Fiona Crombie, 42, is based in Melbourne and originally from Edinburgh, Scotland. She migrated to Australia seven years ago. An acting student, she recently ended a 23-year relationship and has started dating again.

I’ve deleted the apps. It just wasn’t fun anymore so I figured why try and make something work that wasn’t really working for me? Under isolation, with dating being mostly text-focused, it kind of takes the flow out of the conversation. If you meet people face-to-face it’s much easier to understand what their intentions are; getting a feel for their sense of humour is really hard by message. I find I'm having to explain myself a lot, which kind of takes the fun and flow out of the conversation. It got to the stage where it’s just been more hard work than it was fun. I’ve had to have a lot of conversations with people about why we can't meet up. There has been a lot of, "oh I can come round to yours or you can come round to mine". It almost adds an element of risk. I just got tired of saying, "No, I don’t actually think we should be meeting." 

I like forced isolation and spending time getting comfortable being by myself more. But it’s harder than you think it will be. I think keeping myself stimulated has been key. I'm really lucky to be part of an acting community with online courses and rehearsals. I definitely feel less pressure to date and be productive because there’s no obligation at this point in time to do that, and actually it is really valuable time to spend on yourself.

"The fear is quite intimidating"

Patrick, 32, is based in Canberra. He is a student and was formerly in a relationship with polyamorous person, but has paused dating under lockdown. 

The last time I hugged someone was seven weeks ago. Maybe this is what madness feels like. You don’t recognise it in yourself. After lockdown we’re all kind of trapped with ourselves. And we’re all kind of communicating digitally. It’s kind of like just having different pen pals I suppose. I don’t know of any people that are making new connections, but it might be people are repairing old ones, or you know, or just reconnecting with old friends or old partners. It’s more of a support thing. There’s not the energy where people are trying to meet new people or at least I’m not seeing it.

It feels from my perspective that the world is on pause. For the people I know in polyamorous communities, it’s meant that they have had to kind of had to abandon the poly part of things and they’ve become a bit more traditional and stuck with a single partner. Risk prevention and such. I guess that the base philosophy of polyamory is kind of openness. Honest communication about these things. A lot of people, in an ideal world, would be able to enjoy a lot of different people; spending time with different people and getting different things out of different relationships. And when it’s done well it can be a positive thing. But with the fear and the paranoia that’s associated with the pandemic and the fear that you could be an asymptomatic carrier, or anyone could be, it’s quite intimidating. A lot of the young population would not necessarily be afraid for themselves, but they recognise that they could hurt others. I know a lot of people instead re-connecting with people they know, cos' we’re all cooped up a bit.

"People want to break the rules"

Tanysha Jeffree, 29 is based in Adelaide. She works as a disability services manager. She ended a long-term relationship last year. She has currently paused dating and focused on buying a house. 

I’m turning 30 in three weeks. Turning 30 and single is kind of a stressful situation, I am trying to keep positive though. I was trying to continue with the dating life and find someone to hopefully get to know a bit better. I really like to get to know people face-to-face and you know, see how it goes, in person. Dating online and texting isn’t really something that works for me so missing that element is really difficult. I had a few dates before Covid-19. It didn’t kind of work out but they were lovely experiences. The most difficult thing about dating under restrictions is meeting someone who is happy to follow the rules because having someone who wants to meet up and potentially risk harm to them and to others wouldn’t be someone I want to meet. 

I was feeling pretty down because with my looming 30th, societal and personal pressures were getting to me. I just really felt like I was missing that connection. I trained myself to focus on my goal to buy a house. Having a huge project has really helped lift my spirits and know that even though I am single I can also still achieve my goals. Being at home helped me save to buy a house. Now I’ve signed the documents! To have purchased a house on my own as a single lady is pretty exciting. It’s kind of daunting doing it by myself, but the house is big enough for someone else too. It’s pretty exciting to accomplish that goal. Being a millennial, of course, my priority is to provide my pet (I’ve got a whippet called Harry) with a home.

As told to Sarah Malik. Interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity. 

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.

Testing for coronavirus is now widely available across Australia. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

The federal government's coronavirus tracing app COVIDSafe is available for download from your phone's app store.

SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus.

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