February 16, 2021

Love under lockdown: are we finished with intimacy?

LOCKDOWN DEBATE: What is it like to fall in love in today, when there seems to be so many more factors involved in intimacy than the feelings of two people? Is the isolation and atomisation of love (or lack of it) in lockdown new, or merely an extreme catalysing of a familiar trend in modern dating? How do we balance the desire to right the wrongs of the past, with an understanding that the intimate encounters we often cherish the most are the ones that took us by surprise? As John Fowles wrote in The French Lieutenant’s Woman, while it’s often futile to be nostalgic, was love and intimacy more hopeful when we were less concerned with controlling the outcome, when ‘strangers were strange, and sometimes with an exciting, beautiful strangeness’? Or are we stuck in an arcane view of how love works – should we be open to a new definition which ditches a reliance on uncontrollable feelings like butterflies in your stomach or sweat on your brow? How risky is it to fall in love today – and what does love and intimacy mean in an increasingly risk-averse society? Claire Fox, Samantha Davies, Ralph Leonard, Emily Hill and Ella Whelan discuss.

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