Courting in Quarantine 

Well, that was different. One early March evening I’m meeting a new date in a bar for a drink, the night going well and the conversation flowing freely. Dates two and three follow hot on its heels and another is hastily scheduled. So far, so good. And then the world changed.

Somewhere in the scramble to adapt to the ‘new normal’, as I bid a temporary farewell to staples such as shop-bought pasta and regular employment, I’m also left contemplating the new reality of dating Lockdown style. And what a Brave New World it proves.

As life lurched from offline to online I could clearly forget any attempts at impressing dates with grand gestures or creative venue and activity options. With the shuttering of pubs, restaurants and cinemas even casual dating fallbacks as ‘let’s just meet for a quick drink’ were suddenly off the table. Not that you could meet anyone from a different household now anyways.

While I take stock of the situation anecdotal reports of freshly-hatched extramarital affairs and relationships straining at the seams in the close confines of Lockdown drift in from around my friendship circles and social networks. Others recount how, in lieu of physical meet ups, newly forged flirty messaging and sexting sessions quickly graduate to booze-fuelled naked Zoom chats, only to quickly falter, leading them to anguish over the challenges and relative merits of stoking and maintaining that initial interest from people they’d never met in person and might not ‘click’ with were they ever to. These were clearly testing times. 

Thankfully my own experience of adjusting to the new dating landscape proved refreshingly straightforward, not to mention enjoyable. Emerging blinking into ‘the new normal’, once the dust had settled, it was clear that while Covid had slammed the brakes on the old ways of dating it had by no means crashed the car.

For me, the fact I’d had the good fortune to meet someone in real life 3D just before lockdown — someone I was instantly taken with and eager to know better — played a massive part. After our first few dates I’d already resolved to focus on dating her exclusively, were she willing, to ‘give it a shot’ and see where it would lead. If anything the Lockdown, with its inherent restraints and restrictions, made it easier to double down on that resolution and edge away from the gamified buffet of dating apps where the temptation to repeatedly reload your plate with swipes and likes can play havoc with dating plans and attention spans.

While neither of us would have wittingly chosen to forfeit the physical side of dating at that stage the matter was taken out of our hands. As such we had no real option but to roll with it and make the best of the situation. Besides, it was not without its upsides. In many ways I came to relish the curtailed — more ‘innocent’, even — style of dating, with its more relaxed, old school style pace of courtship. Instant gratification was suddenly so last year. 

Lockdown put a stronger focus on communication, placing the whole ‘getting to know you’ shebang centre stage. It had also bitten down on other areas of our lives, from commuting and travel to socialising, giving us more time to invest in a new relationship. We talked at length on all manner of things, learning a lot about each other in the process. Her messages and conversation quickly became daily highlights, welcome moments of structure and routine in a life grown otherwise more chaotic. 

Naturally, as the weeks rolled through April and into May the lack of physical, real world contact did get frustrating and harder to take. Yet we knew it wouldn’t be forever, and May 13 duly brought a relaxation in the rules. Suddenly we weren’t just able to meet for walks in a park but to sit and watch the world go by. Soon there were even cafes to queue for and mini picnics to plan. In this sense Lockdown, and its easing, served as a reminder of the joy of small things. We’d also come to appreciate the reduction in noise, both literally and figuratively — the diminishing of distractions, in all senses of the word, making it easier for us to focus our attentions on getting to know each other as potential new partners. 

Three months in and we’re in a good place, plus there’s still a whole load of firsts I’m looking forward to us experiencing together. Saying that Lockdown has taught me that less can be more, in dating terms, would be over egging the pudding — just as saying “we’ll always have Lockdown” will never sound as emotionally charged as “we’ll always have Paris’ — but somewhere in there, among the staring down of time and paring down of options, for us at least it had its moments, and hopefully formative ones at that. 


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Relationship and Couple Therapy

Sometimes relationships may undergo periods of stress and it may feel as if they are a source of unhappiness or confusion. Relationship counselling helps couples and individuals explore problematic patterns that may be affecting their quality of life. The problem may be recurring or after an event or series of events.

We work with a wide range of couples from different cultural backgrounds and sexual orientations

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Psychosexual Therapy

Psychosexual therapy is an integrative approach which combines talking therapy with behavioural therapy. It can take place on an individual basis or with a partner. It will involve an assessment of the sexual issue (including any associated medical factors) whilst exploring further how the relationship, sexual development and personal history may be affecting the sexual issue. Behavioural exercises may be discussed in the sessions, which will then be carried out at home to help the individual or couple address their sexual difficulties.

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Individual Counselling

Individual counselling is a joint process between a therapist and client. Common goals of therapy may be to motivate change or improve quality of life. Therapy can help people overcome obstacles to emotional and mental well-being.

It can also increase positive feelings, such as compassion and self-esteem. People in therapy can learn healthy skills for managing difficult situations, making positive decisions, and reaching goals.

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