Love & Sex

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Did the pandemic change how we date?

Local artist Kit Evans says he feels pretty lucky about how the pandemic shook out. He often works at home, he’s a solitary guy; his life didn’t change much. All things considered, he’s grateful he wasn’t coupled when the shit went down.

“I feel like the pandemic really tried a lot of relationships, and I think in hindsight, it seems those of us who were rocking solo were more content,” he tells SFR. “I feel like I’m the kind of person who might not have made it through a relationship.”

He brings up an interesting point, one we’ve had to consider as a society kind of a lot over the last few years: How many people found themselves untenably trapped in new, flailing or otherwise imperfect relationships in March of 2020? And how many people managed to make that work?

For Evans, it was like the punctuation to a sentence he wrote a long time ago: Being in relationships is hard enough without the impending threat of global demise. As a society, we’d never lived through anything quite like the lockdowns. How the hell were we supposed to navigate that stuff?

“To my mother’s great disappointment, there definitely was not a behavioral change,” Evans continues. “If anything, [the lockdowns] made me realize my solitude is my peace.”

Still, we long for human interaction, and Evans did spark a brief romance with a friend.

“We ended up hanging out here and there, and it was your pretty run-of-the-mill hookup,” he explains. “It was a no-strings thing which turned into spending more time together, probably because of the circumstances—it was like, I feel safe with you, you feel safe with me; but it gets complicated because people are weird.”

Santa Fean Marguerite Scott knows all about that, too. Well into her 60s, she tells SFR she’d resigned herself to a quiet single life when the pandemic had her second-guessing life, the universe, everything.

“I got COVID in March 2020, and I was actively sick for months,” she says. “The isolation was intense, but once I finally got the first round of vaccines, I started to feel my health coming back.”

Newly un-sick and grappling with the concept of mortality, Scott says she might have let her standards relax, just a smidge.

“I wasn’t actively looking for a partner or anything, but the isolation and the loneliness really made me question whether I wanted to live the rest of my life alone,” she says.

Just before the pandemic, Scott had dated a “dude who turned out to be a 100% card-carrying gun and Trump supporter,” so she was understandably gun shy. Still, when a former almost-flame popped his head up last year, she reacted differently than she might have sans-COVID.

“This guy I’d known when I was 16...we’d never dated, but he posted a picture of me on the beach in some group, and somebody in that group recognized me and pointed it out. So I friended him, we talked on the phone, we quickly bonded over grief,” Scott says. “We talked for months, and...the pandemic taught him that he didn’t want to be alone, either.”

So she went to see him in New Hampshire, and all seemed well right up until the overturning of Roe v. Wade, when Scott’s would-be lover displayed some misguided patriarchal leanings. She describes them as “red flags,” Scott says she chose to continue the relationship, at least for a time. Eventually, her new beau came to Santa Fe to visit, though it became clear that “he had a much more conservative attitude about abortion than me,” Scott says.

And so it fizzled out, though the friendship remains.

Of course, there are success stories, too. Take Cecilia Romero, a Santa Fean who met their current partner, Rob, through Tinder, the dating app.

“I think it depends on the person, because there are absolutely people who are on there just to bang it out,” says Romero. “But there are no guarantees. I met someone on [dating app] Hinge, and that’s supposed to be the relationship one, and...I think there’s a vibe. You can tell when somebody just wants to take it to pound town if the profile is sparse or the photos are like, ‘Look at my chest!’”

There was something different about Rob, though, and they’ve been together for six months. Still, before that, Romero says, they took things more slowly, not just because of the pandemic, but because this is Santa Fe, where dating is garbage.

“I was tired of being like, ‘I have to be in a relationship,’” they say. “I was just looking to meet people, but there were times I thought, ‘Do I really want to meet a person in an enclosed space?’”

The third vaccine booster galvanized Romero’s spirits, and a series of outdoor group events gave them the safe space and time to get to know Rob on a more intimate level. Today, things just feel a little better.

“It’s felt half-normal,” Romero notes. “And he’s really great.”

So then. Is there a moral to these disparate tales?

“Keep your options open, regardless of the vehicle, the app,” Romero says.

“If it happens, it happens,” Evans says.

“I’m still open,” Scott says. “I know I’m open, but I know that I’m not going to settle.”

In other words, just be cool, OK?

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