Dating has always been something I've wanted to experience.
I was the kind of kid who was in awe of the high school relationships that were painted in such a perfect picture on my favorite Disney Channel shows. But, when I started high school, I never actively pursued anyone and besides a two-month, puppy-love relationship with a guy from my church, I never really dated anyone either.
I definitely went off to college with a lack of dating experience, to say the least. In my early years as a student at the University of Kentucky, I had crushes here and there but similar to highschool me, I didn't actively pursue anyone. It wasn't until this past school year that I had my first real relationship. That didn't work out though, but I realized I had to heal and eventually put myself back out there. After I turned 22, I realized I wanted to meet someone again. Things were looking up, or so I thought.
The COVID-19 pandemic hit countries across the world at rapid rates. And I, like millions of other college students, was forced to pack up my dorm room and move home from my university at the beginning of March. I was juggling a million things at once while still trying to hold onto some form of normalcy. I was trying to maintain my GPA, settle back into my parents' house in Indiana, stay in contact with my friends and loved ones, and I had a desire to be back in a relationship.
So, I downloaded Bumble and Hinge like the true college student I am and started swiping.
After a while, a guy and I clicked, and he happened to live close to my hometown. I knew I wanted to hang out with him, but with coronavirus running wild I didn't know how that would be possible. We texted and Snapchatted each other a lot, but both of us wanted to hang out. Eventually, we decided we could meet up and follow social-distancing guidelines.
Our first date was a walk. We stayed away from each other and walked around a man-made beach in my area. We sat on the dock and talked about life. It felt like a scene from your favorite teen rom-com. Things were going smoothly between us. After hanging out a second time, we moved to "car dates." We sat in his or my car in our neighborhoods and talked for hours about the chaos we were living through and how we just wanted life to be normal again. This went on for a few months, and as numbers in our state started to lower, we eventually spent time at each other's houses.
All of it felt like a fever dream though. No matter how hard we tried, it seemed like we always ended up talking about COVID-19 or how we missed going to the movies, eating out, and all of the things we had taken for granted before. With us both constantly feeling on edge because of the state of society, I never really felt settled and I'm sure he felt the same at various points throughout our dating experience.
Though it didn't work out between us, our relationship taught me a lot. It taught me that even in the hardest parts of life, it's OK to seek some form of normalcy. I also learned that I was able to adapt and mold to different situations better than I thought I could. It wasn't always easy not being able to see him as much as I wanted to, but I dealt with it.
And in future relationships, I'll be able to handle the unknown because of what I experienced during this pandemic.
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