Hey Elderly Aunt, should a virtual romance move to the real world in a pandemic?

So there’s this guy. I think I like him. But we’ve only talked on “virtual” dates over the past three months. You know, the whole pandemic and all. The conversations have been good, but sometimes get awkward. I can’t tell if that’s because of the screens between us, the newness of the relationship, or a less-than-ideal chemistry. I’d like to meet up in person, but that would require some travel for one or both of us. He’s in Western Maryland. I’m in Harrisonburg. I’ve raised the prospect of doing this, but he was rather non-committal because of the virus. “Let’s see what the trajectory of infection rates are in our states”, he said. (He’s practical, right?) So should I push harder to meet up? If so, should I go to his town or meet in the middle? Should I just move on if he’s not willing to meet in person soon? Dating is tough already. Dating in the age of coronavirus really sucks. Any advice? 

Love in the Time of Coronavirus. Where’s e-magical realism when you need it Something to transform your Zoom conversations with Mr. Enigma into personal experiences that either make your heart sing or tell you it’s time to tell him to take a hike—a socially distanced one, of course. 

You have the Elderly Aunt’s deepest sympathies, dear reader. She is a tremendous fan of romance—both personally and professionally in her role as a dispenser of wisdom. But she’s genuinely stumped and hornswoggled as to how a new romance is supposed to blossom in the middle of a pandemic. 

Sadly, the Elderly Aunt’s response to your question about the advisability of a face-to-face meeting is a qualified “no.” Doing so would involve both of you (and everyone you subsequently come into contact with) in a potentially deadly game of coronavirus roulette. 

The exception to the “no” would be if you could pull off a masked, outdoor meeting in an uncrowded space and pledge to remain at least six feet apart. But what, really, would that accomplish in terms of furthering a budding romance? It’s not as though you could then decide to invite him home for dinner.

There is no one on the planet (with a brain, anyway) who doesn’t understand your frustration. You, the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker all have social-isolation fatigue. Even the eminently sensible Elderly Aunt fantasizes regularly about empowering her inner mega-impatient Veruca Salt to do her damndest.  But alas, the Elderly Aunt—like you, dear reader—must continue to soldier on as best she can as her adult self.

However…

The Elderly Aunt is a great fan of making lemonade out of life’s endless supply of lemons. She’s also uber-experienced in relationships, so she knows what she’s talking about when it comes to romance. 

The Elderly Aunt freely admits that most of her own passionate, interpersonal trainwreck romances were great fun. Her one great and lasting romance, however, is grounded in trust as well as all the fun stuff. 

Trust requires honest, straightforward communication about difficult issues. Surely the ginormous lemon of COVID-19 provides you with the perfect lemonade opportunity to test the communication waters with this guy. 

Send him an email explaining how muddled you feel about how to proceed with a “virtual relationship” with himAsk him the very same questions you asked the Elderly Aunt. Use simple language and be direct. Talk about yourself rather than speculating about him. 

Zoom conversations tend to trigger reactive responses. Sending this guy an email will give him the opportunity to think carefully about what you say and respond to your questions honestly. 

Or not. 

Either way you will have gotten invaluable information about what kind of a guy he truly is—information that might have taken months or years to discover in more traditional romantic times.


The Elderly Aunt offers her thoughtful responses to your questions about this wild ride we call life on every other Monday.  And as a general disclaimer—to quote the elves from The Lord of the Rings — “… advice is a dangerous gift, even given from the wise to the wise.”

Got a question for the Elderly Aunt? Ask her on Facebook or email your question to [email protected] with the subject line “Elderly Aunt question.” (Just please don’t ask detailed financial questions). 

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