Readers reveal their best, worst and weirdest pandemic dates | #tinder | #pof

You might think the strict rules of dating during a pandemic (wear a mask! Don’t touch!) would drive most singles to give up, but love finds a way in San Francisco. The Zoom date is the new after-work cocktail at Mr. Tipple’s; the masked Golden Gate Park picnic is the new Foreign Cinema dinner date. After nearly seven months of sheltering in place, we know you’re dating (safely), and that’s okay: It’s a human need.

But in a time when kissing strangers could be dangerous, dating is bound to get weird. We asked you to share your best, worst, and most bizarre Bay Area stories of virtual dates and grocery store meet-cutes, and you did not disappoint.

Here’s the best of the COVID-19 dating gossip you sent in anonymously (some stories have been edited for length and clarity):

‘I couldn’t take off my mask’

“I met a girl back in May off of Tinder. She was terrified of COVID-19, so we both had to wear masks the entire date. At the end of the date, she told me she’d like to invite me to her home, but I couldn’t take off my mask. So I went up and we had sex with our masks on. It was weird.”

Zoom dates are tough.

Photographer, Basak Gurbuz Derma/Getty Images

‘Could you not see anyone else?’

“After several hours-long Zoom calls with someone during the early days of shelter-in-place, I wanted to finally see her in person. But I was concerned about the group activities with her friends she kept telling me about. When I asked if she was socially distancing with them, she said, ‘Probably not.’


I thought if I could expertly word a way to express those concerns and maybe ask her to curtail her group outings for a week before our date, she might agree to that. The next Zoom call came and after another hour of anxiety I finally blurted out, ‘I want to see you, but could you not see anyone else?’ She gave a one word reply: No. And that was that.”

‘Like a 2012 long-distance Tumblr relationship’

“I met this one girl on Hinge: It’s casual; it’s nonexclusive; she has a boyfriend. We’ve texted since June and collaborated on a Spotify playlist, which I would find saccharine if it wasn’t a good playlist. We watched an Adam Sandler movie on Netflix Party, private-chatted during a Zoom phonebank, and DM each other tweets about Kate Bush. It feels like a 2012 long-distance Tumblr relationship, even though she’s only 45 minutes away, because we’ve never met in person — she lives with a nurse and fears exposure from either side. So here I am, someone who typically ends things after one date, in a months-long thing with a person I’ve only seen over FaceTime. It’s strange. It’s weird. It’s kind of nice.”

‘We decided that we’d be each other’s one ‘person”https://www.sfgate.com/”

“At the beginning of the pandemic, I had just started seeing this guy. Amidst the uncertainty we decided that we’d be each other’s one ‘person’ that we’d actually hang out with (in addition to aligning on what expectations were before we met up) and use the time to get to know one another better. Two weeks into quaran-dating, I get a call from him telling me that he had actually been cheating on his girlfriend with me and that he was cutting things off with me to be with her. He had been ‘feeling uncertain’ about their relationship and wanted to explore things with me since we had met on Hinge prior to them making things official. Clearly that ended our agreement and seeing of one another.”

One reader met her pandemic date in line at the grocery store.

Tempura/Getty Images

‘It bought us some time to chat’

“I met a guy in line at Berkeley Bowl back in June. Grocery store lines were still outrageous at that point, so it bought us some time to chat. He mentioned that he had just opened a pizza spot in Oakland, so after following his Instagram that day we made plans for a distanced hang at Lake Merritt.

The man showed up with bread he baked at his restaurant, and a whole picnic spread. The rest is history — hardly have been away from each other since!”

‘I keep thinking I’m being Punk’d’

“During a 45-minute FaceTime, this guy gives me NO space to speak, asks NO questions about me — just kept ranting ON and ON about how shelter-in-place is useless, how he CAN’T BELIEVE this virus is actually impacting HIS LIFE. … He explains how he won’t wear a mask, how he doesn’t believe the virus is real, and he makes sure to mention multiple times how ‘chill’ it’d be if I decided to come over and have sex with him. He also made sure to show me a framed piece on his wall — the word L-O-V-E spelled out using machine guns (probably the biggest turn-off so far?). I can barely believe it, I keep thinking I’m being Punk’d. Finally, he stops talking long enough to tell me he’s ‘going to take a piss’ — how romantic. He offers to leave me ‘on’ and come back, but I told him I had to head out anyway.”

‘He unlaced my boots’

“Pre-pandemic, and still now, I worked in the cannabis industry and met a guy through there. We flirted during the early 2020 months, and finally met up to hang out the weekend before S.F. announced shelter-in-place. Almost as soon as I walked in the door, he unlaced my boots and put both of my feet in his mouth, very enthusiastically. Because fetish. I consented and to an extent enjoyed it. Then I went home to decompress. Shelter-in-place is announced and he ghosts me because he’s worried about exposure, sigh.”

Only in San Francisco would someone pull out a drone on the first date.

Luxy Images/Getty Images/Luxy

‘He quite literally forgets I exist’

“https://www.sfgate.com/”How windy do you think it is today?’ he asks, snapping me out of my thoughts as I stare at him. I shrug and wrap my denim jacket around me tighter. He excitedly reaches for his backpack. Maybe he brought me flowers?

Nope — it’s a f—ing drone.

With a few clicks, the drone loops around the white spires of the Conservatory and dips down towards the bright flowers. He stares up at it in glee. ?How… how totally not romantic?, I sigh to myself.

For the next 20 minutes, he quite literally forgets I exist. I’m being sidelined by a flying robot.”

‘This would be the moment we’d kiss’

“This is my first time on an app in five years, and extra weird during COVID because I have to clear my dates with my parents/the family friends I’m staying with. I’ve been on three dates with this one super cool person and we’ve had to tell each other, ‘Yeah, this would be the moment we’d kiss, probably.’ But then we just sit there in awkward silence before moving on.”

A simple park date can lead to an existential crisis.

Slavica/Getty Images

‘The whole thing drove me into this existential spiral’

“I brought some White Claws and we met in a park, nothing crazy. About 30 minutes of chit-chat in, she gave me the very blunt yet frustratingly open-ended question of ‘So what’s like, your thing, you know?’ I completely flopped and stumbled into a minute or two of rambling, unable to summon a straight answer. I honestly can’t say I recall any of what I said, I’m sure I’m trying to repress it to some degree.

But the whole thing drove me into this existential spiral that I couldn’t shake for a couple days. It drove home the fact that any confidence in my sense of identity has largely evaporated after being locked indoors for months, without any circumstances or surroundings to judge myself against. I’ve gone on a handful of other dates, but each time I’ve been bothered by this idea that I don’t exactly know how to sell myself to a partner anymore, because I don’t even have a logline to tell myself at this point. … Anyway, I never went on a second date with this person, though I like to think that isn’t just because of this one thing. For instance, she also said I brought the worst White Claw flavors. Maybe it was just that.”

‘I told him I just wanted to remember this time’

“I did a few Zoom dates with a guy who lived 2 miles from me. At one point, a few drinks in, I took a screenshot of the Zoom call and it made an extremely loud shutter noise. I immediately froze and turned bright red. ‘I took a screenshot,’ I said.

‘I know,’ he said. ‘I heard it.’

I told him I just wanted to remember this time, How We Dated in 2020. He understood and let me off the hook. For our next Zoom date, I suggested we watercolor while we talked. We could send each other the paintings as postcards. I painted a portrait of him, as seen on my laptop screen through the little Zoom interface. A few days later, his postcard arrived in the mail, a clumsily painted depiction of the S.F. skyline.

‘Maybe the view on our third, in-person date?’ It was sweet. I selfishly kept the postcard I’d painted as another souvenir of the crazy time.”


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