By Millie Muthoni
Not that you asked but I want you to know that I have a gift. I’m the very last matchmaker you will ever need. Yes, I am that good at my job. Not to brag but I have a 93% success rate. Don’t ask about the other 7%. Sometimes you end up dancing down the aisle, other times you end up taking a vow of celibacy. It’s not as if this is an exact science.
Usually my set-ups have to meet face to face before they can stalk each other online. How do I get them to agree to meet? Well, you have to be an unsuspecting client to find out. But it involves a careful system that rules out feeling ambushed and ensuring both parties approach each other with open minds and without the unrealistic, exaggerated expectations. A system that ensures there will be no awkward silences or forced conversations or disastrous drunken stories after. A system that guarantees chemistry and maybe down the road biology.
However since COVID hit, I have had to change my system. I’m still in-between strategies right now. My most recent one is through this multi-discipline online study group. You know how there’s e-learning? And the believe that you understand something better when you explain it to someone else. And how there are people who just love learning stuff just out of sheer curiosity not necessarily for a grade or a certificate? Well that group combines almost everything I just talked about. It has people from all walks of life. Someone tell me how that is not Christmas come early for a matchmaker.
Anyway, in this group I already knew Ken *not his real name*. We’re really good friends. Then Carol *not her real name* and I bonded over our love for popcorns and potatoes. And that was it. That’s all it took for my matchmaker senses started tingling. I crafted a simple yet slightly elaborate plan to get Ken and Carol talking and bing bada boom, another couple was born. They don’t even know that I had anything to do with it. Again, not to brag, I am that good at my job.
So thanks to Carol and her excited rambling, I am starting to think that maybe COVID may have changed the definition of online relationships. I put together this list of stages that Ken and Carol’s relationship went through. Maybe a couple or two out there can help me confirm whether this is also how their digital love story in this COVID era played itself out. After declaring the crush and owning the feelings, did it look something like this?…
Stage One. The exciting part. The getting to know each other part. You sleep in the wee hours of the morning swapping funny or mildly embarrassing life stories. Here, you put yourself in the best light possible while still glamourizing your flaws. You test all sorts of angles and lighting for a picture that well, need I say anything here. You can hardly contain those powerful waves of emotion and you just let yourself move with the currents. You can never seem to run out of things to talk about. Actually, the problem is how fast you can’t type. You take your phone everywhere with you. Every time the message tone goes off, you pray it is from that person. Your heart starts racing, your palms get sweaty and your roommate swears they have never seen you smile like that.
Stage Two. You hate that you have to type so much. You just have so much to say. Your thumbs don’t quite express you the way you want to be expressed. And you desperately want to hear their voice. So this is the stage of voice notes and video calls. The person just keeps getting more and more interesting. You so desperately want to meet but neither one of you wants to suggest it. You love how things are right now and you don’t want to ruin them. Not to mention; rona. So far your definition of a date was the two of you in a video call while making the exact same dish for supper. Swapping cooking tips. A dish that would normally take you about 30 minutes to make now takes four times as long. And by the time you are done, none of you can recognise your own recipe.
Stage Three. At this point you know about 50-60% of the person. Trust, loyalty, exclusivity are now set in stone. So lust joins the party. The teaser pics and the long texts of what you want to do to each other start flowing. It is physically craving their skin and getting turned on just by summoning their voice saying good night in your head. You don’t know so much here; like deepest fears or worst weaknesses. All you know is you will never get tired of kissing their lips. And you just can’t stop dreaming about your tongue exploring each and every inch of their skin.
Stage Four. The stage that sets the foundation for the future relationship. This is where it is determined whether they will remain just a crush or you move on to something more than that. The enlightenment stage. The infatuation goggles come off and you realize that you have grown really attached to the person. The bond has been firmly created. You have an entire list of things to do post COVID and you start maybe considering that maybe they could be the one you have been waiting for your entire life. The answer is yes to that by the way if you were a product of my handiwork. Now, you want to start measuring up to all the things you said about yourself in stage one and promising to work on the said flaws. Conversations have gotten way much more deeper and intimate and you begin to see this person in a whole different light. There may be a few fights involved here. Most set ups don’t go past this unless I was involved and in that case then, there may be traffic involved but definitely no end of the road signs.
Stage Five. You have defined where you are going. You know where you stand with this person. And you look forward to eternally cooking for them because the other person just hates the job and claims to be horrible at it, but you secretly don’t believe them on account of your cooking ‘dates’.
So now that you have proof positive that your search for your soul mate does not have to take a break because of the virus, who’s ready to be set up by yours truly?