There’s a COVID-19 pandemic raging on at the moment, as you might have probably noticed. Dating at this time is difficult. I have enough self-confidence, I’m not afraid to speak up anymore, but another problem has appeared — it’s hard to meet someone nowadays. Last time I came to work and there were four guys in the office. When I walked into the kitchen, I met one other software developer who was having lunch. The hallways were yawning with emptiness. Social events are slowly starting again, but it’s nowhere near what it used to be. For example, conferences are still happening online. We may need to recover from this for in decades to come, but there’s nothing I can do about it. I don’t want to wait for the situation to “return to normal.” I would love to go into a relationship today though. But how to do it?
I’m trying all sorts of ways. First of all, I take every opportunity to meet people. I don’t go about this with the goal of finding a girlfriend, but at the same time, I don’t stop myself from doing it. Mostly, though, I appreciate seeing someone in the flesh again. I also think less about these things. Whereas once I would have blocked out a potential relationship in my head, I approach it differently now. I talk to people, both men and women, and I enjoy it. I don’t worry about whether anything more will come out of the conversation. But those opportunities to meet are still few and far between.
My friend Havran and I have addressed this topic in our long debates. He is in a similar position to mine, also looking for a female life partner. Just yesterday he played me a video from the Japanese anime Initial D. A girl is trying to pick up a young Takumi for a date. He probably doesn’t fully realize what she’s up to. He’s a bit of a nerdy introvert. Just in between talking, Takumi asks if he can bring his friend Itsuki along with him on the date. The young lady has known Itsuki from school, probably knew what he was like, and set him up with a female friend. See how it helps when friends know each other and help each other?
We both started to wonder why we don’t help each other as a society and make friends with each other? If a lady came up to me to see if I knew a decent, single guy, I wouldn’t hesitate for a second. I’d be happy to help her. And by the way, I know several of them right now. Havran would certainly be happy to do the same for a friend. If he knew of anyone, he certainly wouldn’t keep it to himself.
His experience when he asked one of his female friends if he had any single friends, however, was quite different.
— Friend: Listen, Mišo. You are such a cool fella. Chicks will be falling over for you.
— Havran: Don’t you have a single girlfriend?
— Friend: You know, I don’t do that…
And here we get to the root of the problem. “I don’t do that.” I ask, why? Is the lady afraid that Havran won’t get on with her friend and that she’ll mess up relationship with her friend because she’ll be post-breakup depressed because of her? Or does she think of Havran as a cool guy, just as a superficial compliment, and doesn’t really want to recommend him to any of her friends? I don’t even know which is worse…
I’m sure we’re all adults here and realize that a relationship like this may not work out. But there is one essential thing that can help quite a bit. Our friends know us better than some dating site. They know what makes us unique, they know about our flaws. And they know their other friends just as well. I don’t know of a better way to bring two people together than through their mutual friends. Just by having them, there’s an assumption that we share some common values. And that mutual boyfriend or girlfriend of ours, by knowing both of us, can guess whether or not we’d be a good fit for each other.
While I don’t have a Havran-like story to tell, my experience is similar in many ways. The fact that I am looking for a girlfriend is something that probably all my friends know. After all, I write about it publicly. I’ve also had discussions about this topic with female friends (though I don’t have that many), and none have ever come up with the fact that they have a super friend who would be a good match for me. So either all her friends are taken or married (unlikely), she doesn’t consider me suitable for another friend of hers, she doesn’t want to play a cupid or she doesn’t have any friends.
Oddly enough, a couple hundred miles north, it works at least a little differently. I recently had a conversation with my cousin, also about relationships and stuff. He told me that he gave his girlfriend Lenka some of my blogs to read, and she wrote back that she “has a chick for me when I get to Pelhřimov to visit them.” At first I thought, “Hm, a chick?” I was thinking of a bird, not a girlfriend. Because the second option was so unlikely to me that I ruled it out. But it turned out she meant her friend and supposedly we could get along. I don’t want to move to the Czech Republic, but I’ll be happy to chat with her when I’m there. The question is: Why is some Czech woman willing to set me up with her friend all by herself when she has never even met me? And here in Slovakia people isolate themselves…
Our society is being torn apart through and through. As Slovaks, we are too atomized, we only care about ourselves and don’t help each other. How are we going to build a success story for our little country if we don’t even help our own friends find happiness? A friend of mine put it aptly. He called that isolation a cancer. And it’s not just about matchmaking friends, it’s about non-cooperation as such. We lack communities in Slovakia, and I know myself how hard it is to build communities. Everybody cares only for themselves. I am at home in Slovakia, but sometimes I feel like I don’t quite fit in, I don’t belong.
My friend was surprised that in the Czech Republic they are better off as a society than we are. She thought that the further west you go, the worse it gets. Well, it’s not like that… I know the Czech Republic and in many ways I understand people there better. The willingness to help each other is much greater there. I can also see that the concept of communities there is not completely alien to them either. And it shows everywhere, even in business. For example, Pepik will help Honzik with repairing the lawnmower and Honzik will help Kuba with raising chickens.
As a consequence of social isolation in Slovakia, people go to dating sites and also try the services of various dating coaches. However, I think that this is more of a patch on a problem that plagues our society. If we helped each other, the world would be a nicer place. We probably aren’t ripe for it yet, but we can start today. Let us change ourselves and our surroundings. Let us build the world we want to have. And in time, maybe our society will start to change in a big way.