'Cheating' may mean something else entirely during the COVID-19 pandemic
January is the most popular time to meet singles, according to Tinder. And a new year means a slew of new dating trends to be wary of before jumping back on the market.
Nicole, 28, thought she’d hit the love lottery with a "charming" British guy she met on Hinge in February — particularly when the city entered lockdown a month later.
Her new boyfriend, a former chef, appeared to take COVID-19 seriously, always agreeing to get tested before they spent time with anyone outside their bubble, including her parents, grandmother and friends, some of whom are immunocompromised.
"What I didn’t know then was that he would cheat on me the night before he would come to my parents’ house in Connecticut and do his laundry," the downtown NYC entrepreneur, who declined to give her last name for privacy reasons, told The Post.
Cheating appears to be as rampant as ever — perhaps even more so during the pandemic, when folks are locked into less-than-ideal situations and the stakes of breaking up seem so much higher.
"I think people are trying to replicate pre-COVID thrills," said Lindsey Metselaar, host of "We Met at Acme," a popular millennial dating podcast.
"I think people are trying to replicate pre-COVID thrills," said Lindsey Metselaar, host of "We Met at Acme," a popular millennial dating podcast. (iStock)
She thinks the pandemic is also squeezing some couples into a box: Stay together and be miserable — or stay together and step out on the sly.
"Smart people who are unhappy in their relationships are breaking up, but scared people are still staying with their partners, which is probably why they’re seeking something elsewhere," Metselaar said. "They’re scared to be alone since being alone now means being really alone."
Those who selfishly try to have it both ways tend to fall into one of two buckets.
There are those who use the digital realm to flirt with infidelity — subscribing to OnlyFans, sliding into an ex’s DMs or following porn stars on Instagram, to name a few examples.
Without a partner’s consent, though, sexting with strangers is indeed cheating, experts say.
"If you’re texting things that you wouldn’t want your partner to know about or having Zoom calls that you wouldn’t want your partner to walk in on, you’re cheating," said Sophie Saint Thomas, a sex writer and author of the forthcoming book, "Sex Witch."
Is texting an ex considered cheating? If you need to hide it from your partner, experts think so. (iStock)
"Pandemic or not, thinking that you’re just chatting with someone in LA and that it won’t affect your relationship is just wrong. It’s something shady you’re doing on the side."