It’s not exactly been the best summer to be young, free and single – with restrictions greatly limiting who we can meet and where. Molly Dillon is a young 20-something based in West Cork, and along with some friends, she’s been trying to negotiate the online dating game during a very unsocial summer.
Molly – and her friends – have opened up to CorkBeo about their adventures. And she writes about it here…
With more and more people using dating apps during the lockdown, I wanted to find out if this way of meeting people works during a pandemic – and if is here to stay for Cork’s Generation Z.
My last social outing before the lockdown was with a Canadian I met in Cork on Bumble.
Although there was “no spark” as they would say on First Dates, I enjoyed meeting someone new and exploring the heritage pub trail.
Little did I know that over the next three months I would be living makeup-free, in activewear and my only interaction with boys would be arguments with my brother about who emptied the dishwasher.
Some of my friends were talking to people online during lockdown but I did not see the point. I had friends to talk to on Whatsapp and Skype meetings for work, while these transitions were easy, dating surely could not be conducted solely online.
I wanted the live anticipation of seeing whether you had been catfished and the awkward silences so cringy that they could take up an entire barstool.
Now the rules have completely changed. Since the toughest part of the lockdown ended, there is a sense a lot of people still do not want to meet up and sit through an awkward and overpriced burger just to get the shift, with the added stress of catching a potentially life-threatening virus.
How romantic! So does all this mean we have returned to a more refined style of old-time courting?
Well, I have been asked for more full-length pictures on Bumble and invited to a lad’s place after 6 sentences of small talk on Tinder so chances are probably not.
Thankfully I have a lot of single friends re-entering the world of online dating apps with me but when one visited me in West Cork, she was not impressed with what the rebel county has to offer, telling me “all the people I am matching with are either boys or bald”.
Baby-faced cupid’s arrow ended up following her on the bus back to the city when a 19-year-old from Ballydehob asked for her number. She had to explain “I look younger than I am, it must be the mask”.
Impressed by her admirer’s tactics, I was curious to see whether he is one of the few Cork gentlemen looking for love the old-fashioned way.
Dillon, 19 from Ballincollig tells me that despite growing up online, he found dating apps tiresome during the lockdown with “all the chat and no idea if you will ever meet up, it gets quite stale.”
Mark, 18, from Cork city was also not a big fan saying most people his age were on the apps out of “boredom” or for “phone sex” admitting that he matched with someone from Kilkenny just to pass time.
One of his friends, Cónan, also 18, pointed out that a lot of introverts “make their connections online in places where they feel more comfortable” to which Mark responded, “I just wanna get with people!”. Fair enough!
Louis, 17, also from Cork city met his current girlfriend the old fashioned way, in a café, and only has to cycle to Mayfield to see her. But he says his single friends are finding it more difficult.
Mark and Cónan tell me they “love socialising with strangers, we can’t do that anymore because of the pub situation” and that they “crave conversation”.
Cónan thinks lockdown has made people aware of how important this is “I feel like a lot of suburbs formed communities.”
Two of the boys I spoke to even said they only became close friends during lockdown out of the convenience of being within each other’s 5k. Beautiful bromances aside, I wanted to know how girls were finding the new dating landscape.
Stephanie and Dearbhla, 19, from Fermoy were also not fans of using apps. Their objection being that in a small community, their love lives would be local news.
Dearbhla said “I wouldn’t go online because you would know everyone.”
Stephanie agreed saying “that it is easier to meet people in person” and realising she took these small pleasures for granted in lockdown, she has now vowed not to hold back from striking up a conversation in real life.
Dylan, 19, is used to virtual love having met his girlfriend via a dating app, but she’s in Galway, so at the time we talked, they were waiting for travel restrictions to end so that they could finally meet in person.
“She’s from Galway and I guess our relationship hasn’t significantly changed over quarantine because it’s always going to be the same, we just have to wait! It’s annoying, not seeing someone physically, it obviously affects your health.”
Although college start dates are uncertain, young people seem sure about one thing: meeting people in person is way better than online.
Maybe myself and my fellow millennials should take their lead and take a break from the apps while we still have the option.