#onlinedating | My experiences with dating during COVID-19 | #bumble | #tinder | #pof

Illustration: MIchelle Chiang / The Peak

By: A hopeless romantic

So, this is the first time I’m single in almost three years and of course it’s during a world pandemic, which makes things kind of difficult. You can’t exactly go to your local coffee shop and flirt with the cute barista, fall in love, get married, and have three kids anymore. Nope, you have to resort to the amazingly awful world of online dating. Spending your days swiping left and right just praying that you match with someone whose only personality trait isn’t “watching The Office” (it ended seven years ago, it’s time to move on). But as the hopeless romantic that I am, I wanted to meet someone. 

So that’s where I stumbled across this super cute girl who I seemed to have a lot in common with. We started talking, I got her number, and we even did a paint night over FaceTime. The next step? Well, naturally, since I work at The Peak, my journalistic instincts told me that I needed to interview her. 

I was curious what had drawn someone to download a dating app during a time where you can’t exactly go out with strangers, but honestly, I was also looking for an excuse to flirt with her. 

 

Warning: This is about as corny as it sounds. 


 

Me: Umm, yeah, I started the recording. Hi. I’m also very embarrassed ’cause I have to send this to my coworkers to check that I wrote my quotes correctly.

Her: Oh, the recording?

Me: Yeah, the recording. So I’m fully going to embarrass myself, but y’know what? That’s fine, I’m used to it, I’m literally writing this piece so, umm . . . the first question I have is: 

How did we meet? How would you rate our first interaction, and is it what you were expecting from a typical Tinder match?

Her: We met on Tinder. You sent me the worst out of context pick-up line. It was like “Are you from Paris? ‘Cause I think Eiffel for you.” 

She said this in a deep voice that I can only assume was her attempt at mocking me and was in no way anywhere close to what I sound like . . .

I read it, rolled my eyes, I had to take half a day to respond, I think. “Do I respond?” was running through my head because y’know, he seemed sweet, a bit dorky, maybe I’ll even give him cute.

I laughed nervously.

Her: Was it what I expected from a typical Tinder match? Yes. You’d be surprised at how many cheesy pick-up lines I get on that thing, so you’re not so special after all.

Me: Damn, and I thought I was original, hurts me a little bit.

It hurt more than a little bit. 

But let’s be honest, I did give you the best line. ‘Cause here we are . . . in an interview. 

Me: The next question is . . .  I forgot I wrote this. 

I laughed nervously again as I read the question.

Can you tell the readers how handsome I am and how good I am at painting?

For, uhh . . . journalistic integrity. Just so I get the full scoop, y’know, I don’t want to leave any details out of the story. 

Her: OK, I know you called yourself a 13/10 before you got the haircut.

Me: Oh, you’re literally going to roast me right now? Is this what’s going to happen?

Her: I thought you were pretty cute before the haircut, too. But then you got a haircut, and so that puts you at a nice even 8.

I took a long pause.

Me: Oh my god . . . an 8 . . . out of 8 right? The scale only goes up to 8?

She laughs.

Me: I’m concerned.

Her: It’s an A.

Me: It’s an A? Hmm.

Her: It’s an A for an Egg.

She is convinced my head looks like an egg after I cut all of my hair off. It is also worth mentioning “egg” does not start with “A.”

Me: Honestly, I have to agree with you. I miss my hair. But it’s OK, we’re here now, you just insulted me, and everyone’s going to know and I’m going to call you out in this interview. 

Me: Now onto the serious questions . . .

Her: We didn’t start?

What made you download Tinder in the middle of a pandemic?

Her: Because I had just come back to Canada [from Italy] right? And I was stuck alone in quarantine and I had never lived alone alone before. So, [quarantine is] two weeks, and halfway through I [just needed] mind-numbing conversations and a big ego boost. But actually meeting and dating anyone was not on the forefront of my mind. 

As we spoke, I realized that I was too distracted with flirting and ended up ruining the recording. But what she said made a lot of sense, and I think reflects a lot on this basic human desire to connect with people. 

Ever since entering this pandemic I always reminisce on the crowd that used to gather in front of C9001 in between classes. That sort of human connection you get from seeing someone you know in that crowd, stopping for a bit and having that mind numbing conversation. Or like the small talk you might have when you order a coffee and ask the barista how their day went. 

But more importantly, her answer really made me reflect why I was on a dating app? And I think it was for the same reasons. I missed having some sort of connection with someone. I wasn’t exactly looking for a serious relationship, but just the fact that there are strangers online who think you are cute and you have a platform to engage with small talk with likeminded people offered some sort of comfort while we are all confined because of social distancing. 

On a scale of 1–10, how well would you rate our social distancing dates and why? Would they compare to a real one?

Her: So we’ve had two so far.

Me: I’m glad you keep track.

What the fuck am I doing? It’s like I’m not even listening to myself speak.

Her: They have both revolved around painting and small talk. They were good times. Do they compare to a real life date? I don’t think so. Sorry?

Me: No, no, no, no, I agree, but if you would like to elaborate on that.

Her: There’s definitely something missing when you’re talking to someone from a screen. There’s a bit of that human interaction that you miss, y’know, seeing how the air sort of moves around them as they walk into a room, how they smile, and how things around them light up . . . or not light up. 

She laughs.

So I think there’s definitely a vibe that you cannot catch from a computer, but [our dates] have been tight. I get to see how awfully you paint plants and sunsets and how awful you are at Skribbl.io. Those aren’t things I would get to experience in real life, so in a way this quarantine date situation has allowed me to see a different side of you that not many people — so fortunately — have been able to see.

Yep, dating virtually has definitely been interesting, but quite honestly I feel like it’s a very unique opportunity. I agree with what she said about being able to see a different side of someone, and I think that is especially interesting when you haven’t met them in person yet. 

Plus, you erase all the pressures that have to do with being in person. Personally when I’m on a date with someone I really like, I’m always very self conscious of my body cues. Do I kiss them at the end of the night? Offer to drive them home? Do that thing where you “accidentally” touched their hand but you totally meant to do it on purpose? 

With a computer screen between you two, all of that is gone and it opens up an opportunity to have a connection based entirely off of conversation. You really get to know a person, and I mean that’s the objective of dating . . . right? But anyways, back to the interview. 

This girl is about to roast the hell out of me. Is this flirting? Someone please tell me I have no clue.

Me: Nowhere in the question does it ask you to roast my painting skills so I’m a bit confused why you brought that up.

Her: Well, it’s definitely because you had to cut out most of my roasting [at the beginning] so I have to make up for it because of your recording failure.

Me: Well that’s just because I’m not good at my job. Oh shit, I can’t say.

Damn it, I work here.

. . . ‘Cause I’m writing this under a pseudonym which I haven’t decided yet. So I’m going to include that as a question, what should my pseudonym be?

Her: Definitely not like “Spider Planter,” or whatever the fuck you called your plant.

Me: OK, my spider plant is named Peter Planter, like Peter Parker because it’s like Spider-Man but it’s a spider plant and don’t roll your eyes, how dare you I think it’s so clever and you’re just jealous.

Her: So, no name recommendations right now, just definitely not that.

Me: Cool, so that’s going to be the name now, actually, it’s going to be the name I use for you.

Her: So does that make you my Mary John or something? 

She pretends to smoke a joint

Me: No, I’m Mary Jane ‘cause that’s already a plant and I think that’s really funny. 

See, the great thing about recording an audio interview is when you do hand motions and you don’t say anything, that just makes quality content.

Her: But you still think I’m funny, so me pretending to smoke a joint still translates pretty well. 

Me: That’s a bold assumption for someone who said they only wanted to talk to me for “mind numbing conversations.” Don’t think I’m going to forget that.

My voice 100% cracked here. Apparently, I’m a prepubescent child. 

Me: So, you kind of answered this in your previous question but:

What are some of the pros and cons of virtual dating?

Her: Pros — you don’t have to leave your bed, you don’t have to wear pants, no travel time, you don’t have to get into his car, and worry about whether or not he is going to murder you. 

Me: Well, I am a murderer as a side hustle, so it’s good you brought that up. 

Her: I don’t know, it’s just the ease and accessibility. 

She literally ignored my comment about being a murderer. Either she is entirely done with my shenanigans or the bar is so low for men that being a murderer is OK.

There’s very little commitment with having to log on for a couple of hours to chat. It’s nice, you really do get to know someone before you decide whether you want to take time out of your day to go and spend time with them. So it’s helpful, it’s easy, it’s still quite nice. 

Cons are still the whole not getting to feel out their vibe: you don’t get to see the way they smile at other people, not just how they smile at you. You get a better sense of a person when you’re outside doing everyday things. Otherwise, I guess our dates haven’t been that bad. And make sure to italicize the “that.”

Me: Oh, OK, all of a sudden she does one interview and she’s deciding how we write the piece.

Her: OK, next.

Me: Have you decided it’s time for the next question? I’ve lost control of this interview so quickly. 

Does virtual dating compare to the real thing? I don’t think so (and I’m not just agreeing with her cause I’m absolutely head over heels). I feel like it’s very easy to put on this sort of fictitious persona when you’re in front of a computer screen. It’s a very controlled environment and while the area that your webcam is pointing to is clean, it is impossible to see what is outside of that square. 

But I guess you could compare that to dating in real life, too. We want to present the best version of ourselves, that perfect shot of us with all of our mess pushed out of frame. I also haven’t gone on a first date in years so maybe I’m not the best one to judge. 

Me: So the last question I have for you is . . .

 Would you want to go out with me again?

She takes a long pause before responding. I may have been laughing in the recording but I was sweating from how nervous I was.

Me: Take your time!

Her: Yes.

Me: I mean, don’t just say yes for the piece, ‘cause if you say no I’ll just cut it. 

Her: Nah, we’re going out, it’s cool. 

Me: Cool.

Her: Cool.

Me: Cool cool cool.

 

I feel like it’s worth mentioning that she didn’t just say yes for the piece and we have plans for a picnic date. Please wish me luck. I need it. 

 


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