Before Corona, I was in toxic relationships or always trying to put myself out there, romantically. My whole identity became about pleasing another. The ‘solitary’ lockdowns, without physical contact, were the first times I began to reconsider, reflect and reroot my concepts and ideas of what love meant to me. I learned how to be solitary. I re-learned what love was and is. So, when a friend asked me whether the idea of ‘love and intimacy’ has changed during the pandemic, I say yes. Love, for me, is now about the art of friendship and familial love. They are the priority. This is my ‘Love after Lockdown’ which seems far away from Kanye West’s 2018 ‘Love Lockdown’. That was ‘BC: before Corona’. This is now 2022 and it’s AC: After Consideration.
In March of 2020, I took one of the last planes to Berlin from London with unbrushed hair and a stuffed bag of superfluous things. If I could have seen ahead I would have brushed my hair, packed a long-lasting vibrator wrapped in an FFP2 mask, and of course, a lot of bravery. The world then was on the precipice of being overwhelmed by lonely QR codes and at the border of not being able to plan, cut off from spontaneity. Overwhelmingly though, it was a time when physical love and emotional love were either intensified or extremely limited. Encounters with strangers were hard and dangerously unsanitary. When the lockdowns lifted I began to live out fantasies and ran from previous conformity.
When I asked my friends and family if their ideas of love and intimacy had changed during Corona, they all replied with ‘yes’. Everyone seemingly had the rug pulled from underneath them, and for some, the disappearance of that rug meant they felt a different texture in their lives. Love, for many, became stronger, and more necessary. Intimacy had a greater need to be more nourishing. I, personally, sensed that I had lost my idealism for romantic love. When everything you know is challenged, something within you also shifts. The source of love had changed its course towards nature, friends, family, and myself. The form of love went from the symbolism of the pink heart to the real pumping organ that keeps you alive. It has gone from an idea of love created by others (films, books) to a love I know, feel, and exists outside the codes of romance.
Now, I sit with a better understanding of what I need, what I desire, and what I just won’t stand for. I suddenly began to see my shape and not the shape of the man I desired. I spent the lockdowns ironing out toxic patterns of past relationships so I would never make those mistakes again. The ironing took about a year and then I fell in love after the lockdown ended. However, my ideas of romantic love were now new patterns I didn't recognize. It seemed that so much introspection had led to fierce independence which I could certainly live out on any Berlin dancefloor. I had developed a thick skin as the soft skin had unfolded on itself. I became self-reliant and self-sustainable. I had met the perfect man, but I couldn’t cope, nor did I get the same fulfillment from romantic love as I did before. I often wonder whether I have become so inclined to reveal my inner madness to fight this mad world, that my madness is enough to sustain me in a beautiful solo fantasy. I had become too used to my smell, the way I folded my bed in the morning, and the way I drank my coffee, I became overwhelmed when someone changed those rituals. It was like someone had come into my life and showed me their way of surviving; a ladder and a strong hand, and it just couldn't compare to my misshaped rope with sediments of tears, joy, and poetry wrapped into its structure. I didn’t need romantic love to sustain me anymore.
So, in answer to whether my ideas of love and intimacy have changed is a firm yes. I no longer hold onto the concepts of love created by others. I choose to love myself, and I understand that what has always been there are my friends and my family. Is that all we need now, with a little sexual interaction on the side?