“So I dated a ‘hot priest’ in lockdown” is how one of my first post-pandemic reunion conversations began.
It instantly seemed as though the course of modern love in a time of coronavirus had taken full flight.
“He’s Orthodox, so he can date. But let me tell you, it was an experience.”
Before she can unravel the events of their religion-based romance, I think of season two of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s comedy drama TV series Fleabag.
As the show demonstrated, falling in love with a ‘hot priest’ can be quite devastatingly beautiful. Even Sex and the City’s iconic ‘single girl’ Samantha Jones attempted to date a priest at one point in the show.
As for my friend Sotia, she succeeded — if only for three weeks.
For context, she’s a woman who unashamedly loves animals and hates commitment.
A Master’s student in marine biology who moved across the pond from Europe, Sotia is my resident vegan friend, the eco-warrior of the group, and a brazen, confident woman who never shies away from a challenge — or a date.
Instantly, my mind was flooded with questions: how can a priest date?
How do you find a priest to date?
How the hell does our least religious, committal friend wind up dating a priest?
“We met on Hinge,” Sotia explains, detailing her contemporary love affair with a man of God.
“At first, we planned to go to the beach and have a drink.
When a turn in the weather rained on the parade, she suggested the priest come over to her home for their first date.
“I found it weird when he declined. He was literally the first man to ever say no to coming over,” she revealed, an expression of confusion on her face.
“What guy says no to that?”
On their first date, the tall, broad-shouldered man with long black hair explained he was a priest and was committed to living a life dedicated to the word of God.
“He told me he believed fate had brought us together, and there was a divine reason we’d met,” Sotia told us.
“I had to do everything in my power not to groan, and say all we did was swipe right.”
While the conversation moved towards the pair’s sex life, for the sake of remaining respectful we decided to leave it to the imagination. Instead, we shifted onto the topic of self-restraint.
“During coronavirus, I’ve definitely become more aware of self-restraint,” Sotia admitted.
“Dating him definitely made me appreciate talking to someone and getting to know them, rather than just having a fling.”
That sentiment seems to be resonating with plenty of digital dating app users at the moment.
For many, the months of self-isolation and social distancing have seen the desire for sexual gratification replaced with a yearning for a more spiritual (pardon the pun) connection.
Lucille McCart from Bumble recently told 9Honey there’d been a 23 per cent increase in messages across the app’s 90 million users in a single week in March — when COVID-19 reached a fever pitch in our consciousness.
“We saw that people were talking more, and they were talking for longer, probably having more in-depth conversations than they’re used to on a dating app,” McCart said.
This was something Sotia experienced, telling me, “We had significantly more meaningful conversations than I’d lever had before.”
“He told me his philosophy on love, what religion means to him culturally and emotionally, and even delved into what he learnt from his previous long-term relationship.”
While the priest proved an influential experience in my friend’s dating life, she felt she had to end their relationship.
“He mentioned he wanted four kids and a wife, and I couldn’t help but politely tell him I have no intention of having either,” she explained.
“So I texted him to tell him I enjoyed the three weeks and we should leave it there.”
Though the fairy tale didn’t have a happy ending, Sotia said the experience was certainly one of divine intervention.
“I never knew priests could be so much fun,” she laughed.