What do the lockdown rules really mean for single people and dating?

Autumn dates are all about cosying up in a pub with some wholesome grub, a bottle of red wine and maybe even a cheeky snog, says Stylist’s Hollie Richardson. So what does it mean for single people when they have to end all dates by 10pm, potentially for the next six months?

For a single woman on a date, 10pm is often a crucial time. It’s late enough to faux yawn and “call it a night” if things aren’t going well, but not too late to suggest “one more cheeky round?” if it looks like a tipsy snog is on the cards. It can basically be the make or break moment, where it becomes clear if you’re both into it or not. 

I’m no expert on this stuff – the horror stories of dating apps, ghosting and gaslighting partners were enough to put me off dating for years. But the first lockdown taught me that I want to make up for lost time and finally start prioritising my dating life. 

I never thought I’d come to live my best dating life during a pandemic, but here I am.

Unlike before, I’ve stuck with an app instead of deleting it after three hours. I’ve tried not to roll my eyes too much at every guy who’s photo-edited their head onto Joe Exotic’s body. I’ve persevered with conversations. I’ve tried the virtual date thing. I’ve met up with guys for long nights in parks and beer gardens. I’ve had a bit of a thing with someone in a “bubble”. I’ve enjoyed the simple and innocent teenage summer romancing of it all.

But, just as I’m getting into my dating stride, autumn is about to bring some unwelcome changes.

Boris Johnson has just announced that, from Thursday, all hospitality venues – namely bars, pubs and restaurants – are to close at 10pm, potentially for the next six months. The new curfew means that last orders need to be made well before the clock strikes 10, so that the venue can shut on the dot.

This, of course, is a blow to an industry that has only just started to get back on its feet since we first went into lockdown in March. And I’ll absolutely follow the new rules in order to help minimise the spread of coronavirus. But it’s also just another damn frustrating kick in the teeth for single people in lockdown. 

Yep, autumn – which is already known as a difficult time for single people because of so-called “cuffing season” – is about to turn dating into a military operation. 

Take, for instance, the second date I am going on this week. It’s too breezy and dark to sit in the park or beer garden all night, so we’ve booked a table in a pub for drinks and dinner – a very normal, autumnal date. But organising it with the knowledge we’ll have to leave by 10pm has set off a minefield of questions about this and future dates.

Will I be fixated on the time all night? Will it kill the buzz? What if I want that last round because I’m loving the conversation? Why even start something if we can’t go back to one of our flatshares together after the pub closes? What if I just really want that sloppy, wine-infused snog to happen?

Ultimately: what’s the bloody point?  

While the pandemic has taught me a lot about what I want and need from a partner and a relationship, it’s also shown me that I can have some fun while finding that. I hate the fact that it would be a relief if I end up wanting to perform my 10pm yawn. 

And if it does go OK, well I guess Cinderella found a way of making a curfew work for her dating life – hopefully I won’t turn into a pumpkin at the stroke of 10 (stranger things have happened this year). 

Images: Getty

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