Anyone who has ever gone to a supermarket with an empty stomach knows how appetite hampers our judgment and often leads to regrettable choices. This year, Oles came from quarantining with their families to campus in the same state of mind as that with which a hungry Costco cardholder sets upon a family-size box of bagel bites. That’s why the 2020-2021 school year is sure to provide a bumper crop of flings, embarrassing stories and Zoom breakout room flirting that is bound to make the third person in your discussion group really uncomfortable.
It is as much a time of risk as opportunity, however. A whole new set of questions face the Zoom student in search of love: “What’s under that mask?” “Is that a ‘Pulp Fiction’ poster in his room?” “Did I just send ‘great comment! ;)’ to the whole class instead of privately?” “Wait, that’s a first-year?”
Certain students will be thrilled to learn that your peers cannot smell you through a Zoom screen, fortunately permitting the consumption of a full loaf of garlic bread prior to a class with your imagined beau. Just as exciting is the face mask’s role in covering up an early-stage facial hair experiment. Wear it for classes and then, on your first caf date with the unfortunate student who liked your eyes, whip off the mask to reveal your caterpillar-lip and ask them to call you “Magnum.” That’ll work.
But with in-person clubs suspended, the hallway crowds thinned, Stav Hall socially distanced and the non-alcoholic gatherings that once defined Ole social life ruled out, it might be hard to get some quality time with the apple of your eye — the one who would probably fall for you if you were just pinned to their screen instead of exiled to the second page of gallery view. If slipping into their Moodle DMs is too forward for you, think creatively. Is your quarantine crush an athlete? Try stalking them on Strava or MapMyRun, and then jog the same Natural Lands routes, claiming to be a fellow passionate runner. By the time they realize you aren’t an exercise fanatic but are in fact an irrevocable creep, they’ll be too in love with you to be mad. Probably.
You could, of course, transfer to their schedule entirely for a little more quality time. Lying about who you are, what you do and the sort of things you’re interested in is one of the best ways to find a meaningful relationship. If you’re not willing to take that step, consider bribing your professor into pairing the two of you for some group work. Nothing brings about romance like a due date and something neither one of you wants to do. It works for married couples!
Ultimately, we’ll all need a dash of courage and good luck in our amorous adventures this year, no matter what stage of a relationship we’re struggling with. Flirting isn’t easy, but neither is keeping a relationship healthy with all manner of restrictions (and roommates who no longer have any reasons to leave the room, ever). So good luck, Oles, and find some closeness at a distance.