It's not a question of if, but when!
It's not a question of if, but when!
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He sent me an Alice in Wonderland GIF on Tinder on 28th February 2020. I remember because it was my last normal weekend before COVID hit South Africa, where I live. I went to a birthday party that night, got outrageously drunk, and replied to his Tinder message the following day. Within five messages, I discovered that I had a lot in common with this Tinder match, who I’ll call Max. We studied at the same university, even completing the same degree (though he finished two years before me). We were both writers, with similar views about the world in general. Not even a week after matching, we were exchanging our writing. Instead of focusing on an upcoming work deadline, I stayed up late reading the first few chapters of his sci-fi novel. Before long, Max and I were sending about 100 texts a day. My screen time showed me that I was spending five hours on WhatsApp alone. If I was last to reply before going to bed, I would wake up to read his response in the middle of the night. Max and I lived an hour apart, but about a week after we matched, my grandparents invited me to spend a weekend with them at a beach flat they were renting, which was near where Max lived. He and I planned to meet up then. A few days beforehand, however, the first COVID case was confirmed in South Africa. And on the day of our date, I woke up with a headache, mild fever, and swollen glands. I had to cancel. Max was understanding and supportive. I spent most of that day sleeping through my fever and whenever I woke up, I had multiple messages from him checking in on me. He suggested that we go on a virtual date, and we arranged to watch Marriage Story “together.” Throughout the movie, we texted about the size of Adam Driver’s nose, the awkward acting, and how absurd it was that Adam Driver’s character’s favorite meal is a salad. (Come on, who doesn’t like carbs?) Soon after our cancelled date, South Africa entered a hard lockdown. No one other than essential workers could leave their homes, except to purchase food. Max and I had no idea when we would meet. We voiced fantasies of quarantining together in the woods or going on dates in Hazmat suits. “As soon as this is done we’re going for drinks and I’m gonna kiss you and hold your hand and we’re gonna be gross and take lots of pictures together, okay?” Max texted me. He and I joked that we had bewitched each other. I couldn’t work out how I could be so invested in someone I never met. I wasn’t new to the Tinder world when I connected with Max, and, typically, I’d had more luck dating people I knew in real life. With dating app matches, I tended to get bored of the superficial conversations quickly. I’d forget to respond, and the match would fizzle out before we made it to an in-person date. I likened my strong interest in Max to finally meeting The One. That said, when he started calling me “baby” and “my love,” I knew this was odd since we’d only been talking for a few weeks. But, I was obsessed with him, and clearly, this meant he was obsessed with me too, right? At this point, I viewed the lockdown as little more than a minor setback to my relationship with Max. Instead of feeling anxious or hyper-fixated on the pandemic and its consequences, I fantasised about our future relationship. Despite the onslaught of bad news, my dopamine levels were higher than ever. This changed about a month after Max and I started texting. His messages turned from hot to cold. I assumed that it was just a bad day and that his change of tone was unrelated to me — his “baby,” his “love.” But soon enough, he texted, “I’m sorry if I’ve been off-ish lately. I really enjoy talking to you and I care about you a lot, I just don’t know if we got a bit ahead of ourselves here.” I was floored. Max had initiated everything, so up until he sent these messages, I was 100% certain that everything I felt, he was feeling too. I told him this and questioned what his doubts meant for us. “I’m second-guessing everything. Maybe it’s best we take a break,” he texted back. I felt numb and betrayed. How could Max change his mind about me so quickly? I also felt like I was losing my own mind. I had let myself believe that we had something special. Had I made up the whole thing in my head? For days after Max ended things, I couldn’t eat or sleep. I was working at a fraction of my normal pace and I had to ask my clients to push back deadlines. I stalked his Twitter account, looking for a reason for his sudden change of heart. Why didn’t he want to talk to me anymore? Was he still in love with his ex? Was I just an experiment? Or worse, a game? I didn’t have an answer from him, and I couldn’t stop myself from searching for one in his cryptic tweets. What I deduced from his tweets was that Max was still hurting from a recent heartbreak. What we “had” was probably his attempt to project a relationship onto me. When that didn’t work, he decided to end things. But this understanding of what had happened didn’t make it any easier to move on. In the week that followed Max’s break-up text, I relied on (virtual) support from friends, who never questioned the sincerity of my heartbreak over someone I had never really met. They validated my feelings and told me that my response was normal and that things would get easier. After a week or so, though, my friends stopped asking the post-split, “How are you coping?” questions. I understood why. I assumed they were having the same thoughts I was: that I had never even met the dude. That we’d only been talking for a month. That if I hadn’t already forgotten about him, I would soon. People were going through real breakups, I told myself. And whatever Max and I had, it hadn’t been real. How could it have been, if we’d only communicated via text? Around then, I started dating again. I went on Zoom dates and, when the COVID-19 case numbers dropped in South Africa, real dates. For the first time in my life, I was dating intentionally. I felt a newfound confidence. My dating life was fun. But even though the people I met were intelligent, interesting, and charming, none of them went past the third date, when it became clear to them, or me, or both of us that I had no feelings. In all honesty, I wasn’t over Max. Months down the line, whenever I was in his city, I’d find myself secretly hoping that we would bump into each other. If I could just see him, then maybe I could get some kind of closure. Or maybe there would be a spark. All I knew is that I needed something. And after a while, this need began to baffle me. Previous heartbreaks from people I dated in “real -life” didn’t last this long. Why did I find it so hard to move on from Max? Over the past year, I’ve had lots of little moments of clarity that helped me answer that question. One is recognising that Max love-bombed me. He led me to believe that I was the most beautiful and intelligent person he had ever met. The level of affirmation and attention he gave me in such a small space of time created a dopamine high that I struggled to forget. Max fed into every rom-com fantasy I thought I’d outgrown. He affirmed me, complimented me, and paid close attention to everything I said. He was able to talk candidly about mental health, therapy, and personal issues. He was the perfect man. But — and this was my second moment of clarity — I only ever saw part of him. In early relationships, we often project fantasies onto our partners. Usually, along the way, we realize that they are flawed and complex individuals. I never got the chance to learn about Max’s flaws or what I might have perceived as negative qualities. Instead, he became a representation of an intense fantasy of mine. Of course it’s harder to let go of someone who seemed so perfect. But I was trying to get over someone who never really existed — and understanding that helped me move on. It’s been almost a year since I last had contact with Max. Thankfully, I no longer crave the closure or contact that I thought I needed for so many months. I’ve also learned to stop judging myself for taking so long to move on from someone I never met. I feel confident that I will meet someone that makes me feel the way Max made me feel. But it will be better — because they will be real. DashDividers_1_500x100 Welcome to The Single Files. Each installment of Refinery29’s bi-monthly column will feature a personal essay that explores the unique joys and challenges of being single right now. Have your own idea you’d like to submit? Email email@example.com. Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?My Chronic Illness Can Make Singledom Feel ScaryHow COVID-19 Changed My Definition Of "The One"I'm Single & That Doesn't Mean I'm 'Too Picky'
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If the early modelling on the Government’s ‘green’ list is to be believed, plenty of British travellers this summer are going to find themselves out in the cold. Literally. The US, New Zealand, Australia, Israel, Malta, Iceland, Ireland and Gibraltar are to be the Accessible Eight, set to reopen to UK visitors when international travel resumes on May 17, without the need for quarantine on return. But with just three of those countries in the top 20 nations typically preferred by Britons, 2021 will be the year of the Holiday Homeless, scouring the internet for the best resorts in countries they had never given a second thought to visiting. If you discount the US (one of the three; the fourth most popular), Australia and New Zealand on account of the fact that Britons are most likely to look closer to home this summer for their first post-pandemic beach flop, that leaves just Ireland and Malta of our favourite destinations open for business. In 2019, Ireland and Malta accounted for 5.63 million of the 58.7 million trips made abroad by Britons, barely 10 per cent. That means that 56.3 million holidays will be either a) unfulfilled or b) crammed onto Irish or Maltese soil. We are creatures of habit when it comes to holidays. Spain has long been the most popular destination for Britons, with France second. In 2019, Spain, France and Italy accounted for more than half of all UK outbound tourism (33.5 million trips).
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The USA, Malta, Israel, Iceland, Gibraltar and Ireland are likely to be on the ‘green list’ for safe travel this summer, according to new modelling. The analysis, carried out by Robert Boyle – former strategy chief of British Airways and its owner IAG – confirms that, according to the Government's “risk” criteria, only eight destinations will make the cut when the green list is unveiled on May 10. New Zealand and Australia will also be categorised as green, the analysis shows, although both countries are currently closed to foreign arrivals outside of their ‘Tasman Bubble’, which opens today. Most of Europe – including holiday favourites Spain and Greece – is expected to fall on the “amber” list, while many more countries could be categorised as “red” by the summer based on the current modelling. So what does this mean for your summer holiday hopes? Here, Telegraph Travel’s team of experts mine their worldly knowledge to pick out seven once-in-a-lifetime holidays that will be possible this summer, without any quarantine on arrival or return. Since Australia and New Zealand are unlikely to welcome Britons this summer, we have focused our attention on the more viable green-list potentials of USA, Malta, Israel, Iceland, Gibraltar and Ireland. For a tropical island escape: Kauai, Hawaii Simon and Susan Veness Remote, rugged, impossibly picturesque – Kauai, the northern outlier of Hawaii’s archipelago, has stolen almost all its sister islands’ share of big, bold and dramatic. Take a small-boat cruise along the north-west coast to discover the looming Na Pali cliffs, the razor-like peaks towering almost 4,000ft high; soothe your soul in Hanalei Bay, where the gorgeous two-mile, crescent-shaped beach is backed by verdant mountains; marvel at Waimea Canyon, a breathtaking rift through the island’s core, 10 miles long and 3,000ft deep, fully justifying its nickname as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific.
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Could the Caribbean be the saviour of summer? While Europe wrestles with yet another pandemic wave, horizons are far brighter across the Atlantic – with white sands and rum cocktails to boot. Let’s start with the good news. In many Caribbean nations, the data is looking positive – raising hopes that they could be added to the UK’s green (or at least amber) list. Case rates are falling, and vaccination numbers are rising – and that’s just the start. These island nations depend heavily on tourism, ensuring that tourism workers are being prioritised for inoculation, and border policies are (for the most-part) generous. Indeed, before the UK Government pulled all travel corridors in January 2021, the region had arguably provided Britons’ most reliable holiday options, with eight Caribbean islands welcoming holidaymakers. The likes of Barbados, St Lucia and Antigua were open for business – albeit with testing requirements, and/or minimal quarantine rules. However, time is running out for sunseekers: June brings hurricane season, with the potential for high winds, rain and travel disruption. Some islands are naturally more sheltered than others, such as Grenada and Barbados – but if the weather is a deal-breaker, you may need to temper your expectations for a summertime break. Below, we crunch the numbers to see which Caribbean destinations could be first on the UK Government’s green list, when it is finally published on May 10. Of course, there are no guarantees – but here’s what the data, and experts, are saying. Antigua Chance of making the green list: 8/10 Arrival restrictions: Simple
Mermaid waves = gone