Sex & Love

How the Pandemic Ended Casual Sex

Women are not sacrificing their time — or health — for superficial pairings anymore

Ayesha K. Faines
Published in
5 min readAug 20, 2020
Smiling Black woman sitting on a terrace with her laptop, on a phone call.
Photo: Peter Dressel/Getty Images

Ayesha Faines is ZORA’s newest relationships columnist. You’ll be hearing her musings on the intersection of love and power on a biweekly basis. This column is her debut.

“Before Covid, you could never get people to be open,” my college friend said one night over Zoom. “Men wanted to go to happy hours. They wanted to play rounds of ‘who do you know?’ Now, you’re actually getting to know each other.”

Judging by the looks of the women on my screen, we were all shocked, mainly because she lives in the heart of D.C., a city where single, college-educated women outnumber men 53 to 47 — a city where singleness is a way of life.

But on this particular night, the romantic report was anything but bleak.

As a statuesque, Black, über-educated, thirtysomething professional searching for “the one” in Chocolate City, my friend was practically starring in her own weird, apocalyptic rom-com — and loving every minute. The pandemic had replaced a blur of boozy brunches with scenic bike rides and masked strolls through the park.

Maybe we should have seen this coming, that like everything else dismantled in the wake of Covid-19, our half-hearted hookups might also go up in flames. Without bars and trendy restaurants, nightcaps are a bit harder to maneuver. Travel restrictions curb the fantasy of limitless options, and these days, sex comes with a whole new set of risks.

Social distancing is fundamentally changing how we date and mate, by imposing on our traditional means of encounter. But for women who want something with strings attached, the scales may finally be tipped in our favor.

Despite its sexually liberated promises, our casual sex culture still prioritizes men.

Before a killer germ drove us all indoors, we were trapped in a dating culture that revolved around casual sex and female disposability — a culture that tends to treat women a lot like paper plates.



Ayesha K. Faines
Writer for

I’m a columnist for Zora 🍯, founder of Women Love Power, talking head & salsera 💃🏾! | IG & Twitter @ayeshakfaines.