Dating During a Pandemic

Two people, both alike in swiping right,

In the time of Corona, where we lay our scene…

One would imagine dating during the time of a global pandemic would decrease significantly. Instead, dating apps like Tinder, Hinge, and OkCupid are reporting substantial increases in usage. (Fast Company) What’s more, people seem to be more open to conversations and creating emotional connections than before. Researchers say that when meeting up immediately is no longer safe, people are taking their time getting to know one another, and working towards meaningful relationships as opposed to flings. (The Atlantic)

We’ve published blogs talking about the dangers women are facing having to shelter in place in houses where they experience domestic violence, and the increase in violence against women in the pandemic. You can read more about what the UN labeled “The Shadow Pandemic” here.

What about the concerns of newly budding relationships?

One love is an organization devoted to educating young people on love and relationships. They recently released 10 signs of an unhealthy relationship and explain what these signs can look like during a global pandemic. They stress that “While everyone does unhealthy things sometimes, we can all learn to love better by recognizing unhealthy signs and shifting to healthy behaviors. If you are seeing unhealthy signs in your relationship, it’s important to not ignore them and understand they can escalate to abuse. If you think you are in a dangerous situation, trust your gut and get help.” (one love)

The ten signs are listed below and the full infographic can be found here.

  1. Intensity: When someone expresses very extreme feelings and over-the top behavior that feels overwhelming.

Expecting you to respond quickly to text/calls, expecting to spend all day together because you are home, relationships escalating faster than normal, self isolating together after a short time.

  1. Manipulation: When someone tries to control your decisions, actions or emotions.

Using shelter in place to control where you are, pressuring you to meet in person despite social distancing guidelines.

  1. Sabotage: When someone purposely ruins your reputation, achievements, or success.

Withholding WiFi, transportation, or money, not respecting communicated boundaries like work from home time, carelessly exposing you COVID19.

  1. Guilting: When someone makes you feel responsible for their actions or makes you feel like it’s your job to keep them happy.

Making you feel bad for having conversations about boundaries, expecting you to be okay sending or receiving explicit photos/messages due to lack of physical contact.

  1. Deflecting Responsibility: When someone repeatedly makes excuses for their unhealthy behavior.

Using the pandemic as an excuse for their unhealthy actions and behaviors like yelling or anything else on this list.

  1. Possessiveness: When someone is jealous to a point where they try to control who you spend time with and what you do.

Demanding you share your location at all times, looking through your phone, demanding to know who you’re talking to throughout the day.

  1. Isolation: When someone keeps you away from friends, family, or other people.

Pressuring you to quarantine with them instead of family/friends, expecting you to stay on the phone with them all day or for long stretches of time and limiting your interaction with others.

  1. Belittling: When someone does and says things to make you feel bad about yourself.

Putting you down for your work habits, snacking, physical appearance, or level of concern for COVID19.

  1. Volatility: When someone has a really strong, unpredictable reaction that makes you feel scared, confused or intimidated.

Lashing out and having extreme reactions to things out of their control like the WiFi not working, not being about to go out, etc.

  1. Betrayal: When someone is disloyal or acts in an intentionally dishonest way.

Exposing you or others to COVID19 knowingly or due to a lack of precautions, lying about breaking safety “bubbles” and symptoms of COVID19.

It is important to keep these red flags in mind when starting a new relationship, and even when evaluating existing ones. Abuse does not have to be physical to be real, and it is never excusable. If you are experiencing domestic violence contact the domestic violence hotline at 816-995-1000.

As always you can contact the Women’s Center at 816.235.1638 or umkc-womens-center@umkc.edu and we would be more than happy to assist you and/or direct you towards further help in whatever situation you are in.

Sources

https://www.fastcompany.com/90492617/how-covid-19-killed-hookup-culture-and-saved-romance

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/12/what-pandemic-has-done-dating/617502/

https://www.joinonelove.org/

 

Loving Someone with Depression

By Elise Wantling

I have struggled with depression on and off, (but mostly on) for the majority of the past decade. My partner has struggled with it for even longer than that, probably close to 15 years now. We have been part of each other’s lives for a little over two years as of writing, and together we have taken turns caring for one another when the depression brain takes over and things seem too hard to bear.

First, let me explain what depression is. Depression is a catch-all term for a couple different mood disorders. The most common type (according to Harvard Health) is major depression, also known as clinical depression, which would be classified as the “worst” type, that carries with it changes to your sleep patterns, lack of energy, feelings of worthlessness, and suicidal thoughts and feelings. This can last for years before it goes away, if it ever does. There is also persistent depressive disorder/dysthymia, which is basically “depression lite”. It comes with most of the same symptoms as major depressive disorder, but they aren’t as intense or long lasting. It is characterized by a “low mood” lasting at least two years. The third kind is seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which occurs during the fall and winter. I’d rank it as the “least bad” on the scale, as it usually isn’t as intense as major depression or PDD and only lasts a few months of the year.

There are other types of mood disorders or personality disorders that depression can fall into, but these three are the most common. Ryan, (my partner) and I both have standalone depression diagnosis (we both have clinical depression/MDD), but we both have other mental health issues as well (one of which is anxiety, which often comes alongside depression). We are both currently seeking treatment for our depression, taking meds and seeing our own therapists, but that isn’t always enough to keep the depression at bay. Depression can manifest in a number of ways, but for Ryan and me it manifests in a similar way. First, it starts with the gradual decline in energy. I’ll notice he sleeps more and seems less present during his waking hours. He wants to go out less and stay in more. When he sleeps, it’s restless and full of nightmares. He becomes disinterested in his hobbies, he stops helping around the house, his life starts to become a cycle of work and sleep with very little in between. It starts out slow, and gradually gets worse, and usually manages to escape detection until we reach a breaking point of either me or him getting frustrated with his lack of ability to function.

Then it usually hits us: the depression fairy visits and casts a nasty spell. This usually leads to a conversation about how he’s been feeling, which will reveal that emotionally he’s doing about as well as he is functionally (which is to say not doing well at all). We then draft a game plan: first, an appointment to get meds adjusted. Second, investigate therapy options if he isn’t already actively in therapy. Third, get back on a healthy eat/sleep/work schedule, making sure no meals are missed and that there is a healthy level of sleep being accomplished, not too little but also not too much. We check in daily on emotional levels, having candid conversations about suicidal thoughts or feelings and feelings of worthlessness or not being good enough. Little by little, together, we pull him out of the dark hole he has fallen into. Sometimes it takes just a few weeks, sometimes it takes a few months, but eventually he is able to wake up one day and tell me that everything is alright again.

It’s not always him that gives into the depression. Sometimes, just as often as it happens to him really, it happens to me. We’ve been lucky so far in that when one of us has needed to be carried for a bit the other has had the strength to do the carrying. In the beginning of our relationship I often worried what would happen if we both fell victim to depression at the same time. What I have learned is that love has given us the ability to rally when needed. Some days, even when I can’t manage to care much for myself, I find the strength and energy in me to care for him, and vice versa, he does that for me. I am by no means saying our love or our relationship has cured our depression. But I am saying it has made things more bearable. Through my relationship with Ryan I have found someone I can confide in and share my struggles with, who truly gets them and can relate. Someone who shares the feeling of triumph when after weeks of dragging yourself out of bed you finally wake up and find yourself excited to face a new day instead of dreading it. He reminds me to take my meds and takes me to my doctor appointments. He rejoices in my joy, and holds me in my sorrow, and I likewise am able to do that for him.

Loving someone with depression when you have depression isn’t easy. Some days it feels like the cycle of depression will never end. Other days, you feel like you’re free of it forever.  Just like every relationship, a relationship that is touched by depression still requires love, trust, and communication. It can be incredibly challenging, but also deeply fulfilling. Even with its’ challenges though, I wouldn’t trade my relationship for the world, and for those of you who can relate, I hope you can say the same.

Another Tinderella Story

By Elise Wantling

If you currently are, or recently have been, single, then you’ve probably heard of an app called Tinder. Or its’ more feminist sibling, Bumble. Perhaps, you’ve even heard of Grindr or Her if you’re LGBTQ+ identifying, or just well versed in dating apps. Online dating is nothing new. It dates back to 1995 with the creation of Match.com, but the creation of Tinder really revolutionized the industry, (though it was not the first dating app on the market). The release of Tinder spurred the creation of more and more dating apps.

With Tinder, no longer did you have to look at full profiles, and read detailed descriptions of who someone thinks they are and why they think they’d be a good match for you. Instead, you could simply swipe through photos without ever opening the profile and determine solely based on looks whether or not you think you’re compatible with someone. Tinder simplified things down to a science: swipe right if you’re interested, left if you’re not. If they like you too, you’ll match and you can chat. If they don’t like you back, you can’t message them. Simple, easy.

When I first got on Tinder back in 2016, I was nearing the end of high school and had recently turned 18, making me one of the people in my friend group old enough for the full Tinder experience. (At the time, Tinder also had a teen section for ages 16-18). My friends had gotten into it while I was seeing my first girlfriend, but after we broke up they encouraged me to download the app. I was recently out as bisexual, and the queer dating pool at my high school was pretty limited, so I decided to give it a try.

It wasn’t until I was a few weeks away from leaving for college that I got brave enough to go on my first Tinder date. It went horribly, we were not at all compatible (plus he showed up almost an hour late, said he would buy me coffee, but didn’t, and talked my ear off for two hours without me getting a word in edgewise). Despite that, I swiped on.

Tinder has a reputation for being a hookup app, an app people can use to find a quick date or a one night stand. While yes, some people do use it for that, a survey of 1,000 Americans done by Simple Texting found 52% of Tinder users surveyed said they never had a one night stand. From that same survey, almost 14% of those surveyed said they were engaged/married to someone they met on Tinder. Despite public opinion, the facts are there: Tinder is a viable way of meeting a long term partner.

Flash forward to my sophomore year of college. One lonely night I’m swiping through Tinder, only half paying attention, when a cute guy catches my eye. I open his profile and see that his chosen anthem is “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman (one of my all-time favorite songs!). I swipe right, and we immediately match, so I shoot him a message. Flash forward again, another two years, to October 2019. We’re now engaged and counting down to our wedding day that is in less than 7 months. We live together, we recently added a puppy to our family, and we have Tinder to thank for bringing us together.

One might assume my Tinder love story is an exception to the rule, and not the standard. Perhaps it is (though we are the second couple that I know in real life who met on Tinder and are getting married). However, according to the Pew Research Center, as of 2016 5% of Americans who are in a married or committed relationship said they met online. That is not an insignificant number of people! If you’ve been considering giving online dating a try, or getting back into it, consider this your sign- perhaps you can become just another Tinderella story.

 

 

 

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

By Nina Cherry

Now that Thanksgiving is over, and after the large snowfall, it is time for Christmas music! One Christmas carol has become quite controversial lately; “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” The song was written in 1944 by Frank Loesser, but was made popular when it appeared in the film Neptune’s Daughter in 1949.

I have been listening to this song for years, but it wasn’t until a couple years ago when I realized unsettling the lyrics were. As the song continues, the male’s “friendly” attempts appear to get more and more insistent – until he is nearly forcing the woman to stay.

Recently, there has been a large debate on whether or not to retire this song. The lyrics have been analyzed and interpreted in many ways. Some believe that the song is more about the woman being held back from societal norms as an unwed woman in the 1940’s staying at a man’s house. On the other hand, that idea is combatted by troubling lines like “what’s in this drink?” and “what’s the sense in hurting my pride?” Karen Tongson, a gender studies associate professor at the University of Southern California, believes “The song itself is an effort to furnish female sexuality with a set of excuses as opposed to a coercive song.” The song has been getting plenty of buzz. In 2016, a singer-songwriter couple revised the song to create a comical and consensual version that went viral.

The lyrics send a bad message, but I believe this song needs to be preserved, and not forgotten. This song is a depiction of what it was like to be a woman at the time, which is something that needs to be remembered, otherwise history may repeat itself.

What are your thoughts about this popular Christmas carol?

10 Things I Would Tell my Younger Self

By Ann Varner

I watched a video recently where elderly women give advice to 25-year-old women about their regrets in life. In the video they speak about the pressures of society today and how women are supposed to be “perfect.” After watching this video I started to reflect on my younger self, even if it was only a few years ago. I realized how much I’ve grown and what I wish I could go back and tell myself at 15-21 years old. This is a list of what I would tell myself and many other ladies out there who likely faced the same issues:

  1. Don’t act unintelligent and purposely fail math because you want male attention. I promise you, it’s cool to be smart.
  2. I know that boy broke your heart. I know it hurts. Don’t dwell on it, because you will miss all the good times you have with your friends.
  3. Cherish your friendships. You never know what will happen in the blink of an eye.
  4. Your mom is actually right 99% of the time.
  5. It’s okay to be different from everyone else. You don’t need to be ashamed of your Wal-Mart and thrift shop clothes. In the end, it’s all materialistic. The people who like you for who you are don’t care where you shop.
  6. It’s okay to want a life that others don’t perceive as normal. I know you don’t care about marriage or babies and that seems weird to everyone else. Don’t worry about it, one day you’ll be content with how you feel.
  7. It’s okay to want to live alone. It’s okay to enjoy your solitude.
  8. When someone shows you who they are, believe them.
  9. I know you’re humiliated by having to drive an ’89 Ford Topaz that everyone makes fun of you for. One day, you’re going to work hard enough to buy a car you like. Their opinions don’t matter.
  10. The future is now, stop yearning for what is to come and make it happen. No one besides you can create your life.

I know that 20 years from now I’ll look back on this blog and smile as I will have a new list to create. In all, I wish I had trusted myself and what I felt deep down. Most topics on this list are materialistic or about how I was perceived by others. At 25, I’m content with who I am, what I wear, and how I live. It’s a great feeling to have and I wish it for everyone else. I think that the biggest regret I have, which is similar to the ladies’ in the video, is that I had spent too much time caring about what others thought rather than just living my life. Fortunately, I get to do that now.

Swipe right on a more feminist dating scene

By Zaquoya Rogers

Buzz… buzz… have you heard of Bumble?

Bumble is a dating app, sort of like Tinder, but it takes a very different approach. Created in 2014, Bumble has been under the radar, until there was a rumor that Amy Schumer met her current boyfriend on the dating app.

The rumor was debunked, but Bumble still gained some clout. Basically, how Bumble works is you swipe on profiles of people that pop up. Right for yes, left for no. In that way it seems pretty similar to Tinder, but instead it takes quite a feminist turn.

After two people match, it is up to the girl to start the conversation… and she has 24 hours or else… POOF!.. The match is gone. Many ask how Bumble came about and the reason is quite common and timely: sexual harassment in the workplace.

A woman named Whitney Woolf, essentially the co-founder and former CEO of Tinder, created the spinoff app. She dealt with immense sexual harassment and discrimination among her male co-founders. She was even put down by being told her “woman presence on the team made the company seem less legitimate.”

She then graced us all with the openly feminist app of Bumble. Bumble is feminist because it diminishes the doubt that women may have of being “too thirsty or forward” if they start the conversation first. In this case, you have to, girl! Woolf’s whole intention is to make a true feminist app that helps break that disconnect and social double standard in the start of new relationships.