Dr. Danielle Forshee speaking to Refinery 29 regarding the dating trends.
But even though we have trendy new names for it, getting attached to a partner prematurely was common even pre-COVID, says Danielle Forshee, Psy.D, LCSW, a psychologist and marriage therapist. Only now, the propensity to quickly latch onto a potential partner as though they’re your last chance for happiness can be even stronger, thanks to the lack of human contact we’re all experiencing right now.
“Because of COVID, we’re in a scenario where we’re being told to not have human contact and physical touch, and that takes away our ability to have the emotional and physical connections that we as humans require,” Dr. Forshee says. When it’s been months since our last juicy make out or snuggle sesh, many of us begin to crave it — sometimes on an unconscious level. This can cause us to feel an affinity for someone more quickly than we typically would, or even to settle for someone we might have otherwise written off. It can also make us rush the semi-serious act of letting someone into our COVID-19 bubble, just for the company.
“You find someone you could be okay with, and it feels nice to have that connection” Dr. Forshee says. “When we touch each other for 15 seconds or more, whether we’re hugging each other, kissing, putting our hand on someone’s shoulder or leg, it releases oxytocin, the hormone our body releases that makes us feel attached and gives us connected, loving feelings.”
Known as the “love hormone,” oxytocin is a hell of a drug, and if you’re suddenly getting it after months of isolation and solo banana bread making, it can feel euphoric. “It may increase that attachment at the onset,” says Dr. Forshee. “That may be what’s leading people to think: Oh this feels really good, I don’t want to let this go. Let me just stay here.”
Of course, not all apocalypsing is settling — especially if you believe in love at first sight. There’s a chance you’re really into someone right away because they’re truly a wonderful match for you. Maybe they really are the Sue Bird to your Megan Rapinoe or the Harry Burns to your Sally Albright. But even if that’s the case, a gut check is warranted to make sure you’re not hitching your wagon to someone just because you’re lonely, experiencing skin hunger, or freaked out because COVID-19 has pushed your dating timeline back a year.
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