By Maggie Kim
I am not dating, pandemic or not.
The last time I did (pre-marriage, prehistoric), dating apps were for people who didn’t have IRL game. Harsh; true. But it’s a whole new decade, I’ve been separated for a few years, and friends have been urging me to set up my profile and swipe. I am not good at this. So I’m rather relieved this spiky bitch of a virus is a valid excuse for avoiding dating altogether.
Still, even as someone who can happily spend large swaths of time alone, I’m sometimes wistful for a partner to quarantine and watch Tiger King with. Other times, I flashback to ten years of marriage and I am elated I’m not with anyone, especially the wrong one.
I got a text from a physical therapist who worked on my shoulder in Romania last month. He asked if I was doing my exercises (no), but he was mainly reaching for a connection while on lockdown. A totally inappropriate one because I’m like 20 years older and live in the United States. But it was sweet and brave—and made me consider being equally brave and reaching out to that dude I haven’t forgotten about… NEVER. I’m a prideful chickenshit and I don’t care if the world’s ending.
But I am curious about people who do date, and if and how they’re looking for love in quarantine.
Are they more courageous? Less demanding? Does everyone feel like a Love is Blind contestant? Is loneliness the true pandemic? (Could this be more Carrie Bradshaw?)
Here’s what they said.
Norah, 34, Executive Producer: “He was worth corona.”
I broke up with my longterm boyfriend back in December because it wasn’t moving forward. So I called it off and let the floodgates open. I’m on a mission to find my husband!
Friends were setting me up; I was on all the apps. I was going on dates four nights a week and it was a magical whirlwind of architects, doctors and really hot and sexy guys.
I narrowed it down to two guys I’m really interested in, but with corona, everything’s been on pause.
My new normal is FaceTime.
I talk to one of them five hours a day. It’s almost like high school dating when you talk on the phone all the time. It makes me giddy.
We were intimate before this, but we wouldn’t have had this much time together, pre-quarantine. We do everything online so it feels like I have someone going through it with me. We watch movies. We cook dinner. We haven’t met up because his mom is a nurse on the front lines and stays with him a lot, so it’s not safe. The other day, he told me he loved me. I think he’s catching feelings. I said, “OMG, I may have to hang up now.”
Sometimes, I get a little bored and then I go on the apps and have a date with a new guy. I think men are more open. If they live alone, they’re lonely. They have more time on their hands and are more available, especially the ones with high-powered jobs. Before, there’s work and friends. Now they’re always available and I don’t have the time!
I’ve gone on actual dates—bike rides, walks in the park—at a safe social distance of six feet. The physicality of all of this is different, but I did slip once and hook up with an NBA player. He showed up at my door in a face mask and didn’t appear sick.
He was worth corona.
One thing that’s changed is I don’t get as many dick pics. Guys want more of an emotional connection, a quarantine buddy. Everyone knows someone who’s been severely affected by Covid and it puts life into perspective. You start thinking about what’s important. It’s not about going to Soho House and being fancy. Who’s going to be there for you when you’re dying?
I think men in New York want to find love. Everyone wants love. But I will say that guys are all starting to look beat down. They’re not getting their monthly haircuts and they’re really suffering!
By the end of this, I’m going to know who my future husband is. Until then, I’m not going to stop dating. Corona is not going to hold me back!
Danielle, 25, Executive Assistant: “Corona has made me less likely to date.”
Friends have been saying how “so and so” randomly reached out or tried to connect since stay-at-home orders began. I’m starting to think I’m “so and so.” This forced isolation has made me want to reconnect with people I wouldn’t normally—or haven’t for a long time. Recently, I reached out to a friend I hadn’t spoken to in about two years, so we naturally had a lot to catch up on. We ended up talking for four hours! It’s the longest FaceTime I’ve ever had with anyone, ever. It felt… different. We touched on everything: surface level conversation, memories, emotional sifting. I don’t know what the interaction meant or where it may go. Maybe the moment was fleeting, what was needed in the moment on both sides, or maybe it’s a segue into something else. Either way, it felt nice. Just like his smile, he wore the extra compassion well.
Still, corona has made me less likely to date. I’ve realized I use dating and dating apps as distractions from the real work I need to do. I have a long healing journey ahead of me, and I feel like I need to start taking that seriously, in order to break the cycle. I’m using this quarantine time to focus on that, and to learn more about myself, softly.
Lenid, 36, Television Producer: “It feels way scarier than HIV to me.”
With quarantine, you have so much time, dating apps are a diversion. There’s a secret hope you’ll meet that someone, especially because you’ll have all this quality interaction before meeting in person. We’ve all been on FaceTime, Zoom and HouseParty now so it’s making people more comfortable with digital conversations.
I met a guy on Hinge and we scheduled a FaceTime date. It was my first so I checked the lighting, I checked my hair. I made sure I wore a tee-shirt to show some skin. Everything was perfectly positioned so I looked cute.
But the date was terrible. Within 5 minutes, I realized I never wanted to hang out with this person IRL. I told him I had to make dinner and I didn’t text him back the next day. Still, it gave me the confidence to try again. I’ve had a few more FaceTime dates since. But it feels more disposable and not real because it’s all online. You’re still not getting a full sense of that person.
Right now, I’m reflective rather than lonely and I feel more empowered to find my person. I’m not feeling insecure from negative comparisons, like feeling everyone at the bar is hotter than me. I’m in my own bubble at home and there’s no FOMO because nothing’s happening.
I don’t think I would risk meeting a guy in person right now. On Grindr, they’re a block away, but no way I’m going to meet them. I’m afraid of getting corona; it feels way scarier than HIV to me.
Emma, 45, Chef: “Covid has definitely taken the pressure off dating.”
Before social distancing, I was using Bumble and Raya when I had time, which I never do because of work and my daughter.
People are more responsive on the apps now because they have the time. I was chatting with a few guys before quarantine and they’re chattier now, so I’m making more connections than I was before the lockdown—even though my standards and filtering on the apps haven’t changed.
I did meet up with one guy a few weeks ago, before the official shelter-at-home orders. We had coffee and walked our dogs. He tried to give me a hug, but I gave him the elbow and he rolled with it. We stayed six feet apart, more or less.
Covid has definitely taken the pressure off dating. Everything feels more casual, but it also gives you a chance to get to know someone better than before. We’re all dealing with this and you get a more genuine picture of a person: Are they chill? What are they worried about? What are they reading? What news do they watch?
I’m just taking this opportunity to meet people and hang out at a safe distance. I don’t have the pressure of a guy trying to kiss me. That’s the biggest benefit. Before when you’re dating a guy, there’s the pressure of physical intimacy. Just because I went to dinner with you doesn’t mean I have to sleep with you. Now that’s completely off the table.
Alex, 40, Filmmaker: “I don’t need corona to see things for what they are.”
Pre-corona, dating was awful. I use Raya and Hinge and people just don’t have the attention span to carry through with online dating. It’s an alternative for likes instead of Instagram.
I thought people would be more active on the apps because of the quarantine, but it’s way less. I thought this would be a great time to get to know someone without going out on dates. But I think girls feel like, what’s the point of chatting if they’re not going out?
Men tend to be more hesitant about actual dates because they’re paying.
For sure I feel lonely, which is why I’m having conversations with people who live in other countries. I know that’s not going anywhere!
I’m at a point in my life where I’m not experimenting anymore. I know what makes me happy and what I want in a person. I don’t need corona to see things for what they are. For me, the only lesson I’m trying to learn from this quarantine is being motivated with my work.
There is a woman in my building who seemed really attracted to me and that was attractive. I asked my doorman about her and I was going to leave a note for her before all this—but now it just seems creepy.