L.A. Affairs: I’m single during a pandemic. My dating life has never been better
Single and self-quarantined during a pandemic? Way to up the ante, universe.
Stuck indoors, immense boredom set in, and I decided to reinstall Bumble for the millionth time. I went through the all-too-familiar motions of resurrecting my profile, starting with the most important component of any successful dating profile — the photos.
I uploaded six carefully curated images that would serve as a visual summation of who I am and, satisfied with my picks, I moved on to the bio section. Given the state of current affairs, my default “who I am in a nutshell” spiel suddenly seemed banal. It was probably worth addressing the infectious diseased elephant in the room.
If beaches and businesses are reopening, does that mean I can visit my friends and family now? The new rules on socializing during social distancing.
“Can someone please eject the 2020 cartridge, blow into it, pop it back in and start this game over? Two players, let’s do this! Photog, yogi, soccer player, comedy night goer. Seeking a friend for the end of the world.”
I knew my perfect guy would be wildly amused by my reference to the quick fix for balky ’80s Nintendo games. It was now time to Bumble.
Comfortably rocking my nighttime look — which I guess at this point was my only look — I embarked on my latest swiping journey with curious optimism. How would COVID-19 shape my dating landscape?
Profiles did not disappoint. I wasn’t the only one wanting to bring a little levity to this harrowing new normal. From men flashing the bling that is our new currency (toilet paper and hand sanitizer), to other high rollers bragging about how much quarantine food they have, the Bumblesphere was abuzz with clever quips about our new way of life.
Staying home is difficult for many. For some, being at home is a welcome change of pace.
Some of my favorites:
If COVID-19 doesn’t take you out … Can I?
Looking for Love in the Time of Coronavirus. (Saw this reference to the 1985 Gabriel García Márquez classic quite a bit. Willing to bet most have not read the book.The first time I came across it, I chuckled. The 100th time? Disenchantment had set in.)
My dog was super stoked to have me home quarantine Day 1. Now I think he’s plotting my death.
I’ll take two Coronas, hold the virus.
Just trying to stay positive and test negative. (Really hoping that was a coronavirus reference).
Likes: Skiing, hanging out with my pup Skipper and social distancing.
If the worst thing that happens to me during this global pandemic is that I have to buy new pants, I will weep with gratitude.
One profile listed the qualities he’s looking for in a woman: smart, has toilet paper, is fun to be around, has hand sanitizer, funny, has a surplus of large N95 masks. Then he specified that all are must-haves — except for being smart, fun and funny.
A pandemic would not have been the shared experience I would have opted for, but it certainly made a memorable mark: I had never laughed this much while swiping on a dating app. I’ve felt a pull to connect and leaned into that feeling. I’ve swiped fearlessly and matched with more people than I had in the past.
I’ve initiated conversations without apprehension, didn’t spend time deliberating over my words. And with the pressure to meet off the table, I gave myself full permission to be me. The conversations have flowed. They’ve been engaging, meaningful and playfully inappropriate.
Asian giant hornets (a.k.a. murder hornets) have been spotted only in Washington state and Canada. Traps elsewhere are killing beneficial native wasps and bees.
Cue predictable plot twist: The photos weren’t the most important component to a successful dating profile; I was.
Quarantine life, while undeniably a stressful situation, has opened a door for those of us looking for love.
It has created a unique opportunity to tap into some of the fundamental components of dating — presence, anticipation and cultivation. Stripped of the superficial crutches of our pre-social distancing lives, we’re being forced to dig a little deeper.
It has felt reminiscent of the era symbolized by “Sleepless in Seattle” and “You’ve Got Mail,” where Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan star as people who fall for each other before they’ve ever met. I remember hearing stories about people who would fall in love and move across the world to be with people they’d known only through phone calls and email exchanges.
Building a wardrobe of fashionable face masks doesn’t make me insensitive to the grave consequences of coronavirus.
I never really understood how that could work, until now.
Recently I opened my app to find a new message. “Hey there. Nice to connect amid the apocalypse. Your Nintendo reference made me laugh and your smile made me smile. (It’s the end of the world. We can say cheesy things without consequence.)”
We exchanged lengthy messages, overshared, made each other laugh, flirted.
This one I’m excited about.
We have a virtual first date on the horizon, and I feel 15 again. It’s refreshing. I only hope when the time comes, and we’re finally able to meet in real life, we remember to bring our “impending doom” selves — the best part of us.
We asked readers to share their experiences about what it’s like dating in the middle of a pandemic. Many hope the shutdown will lead to deeper connections, and love. One unexpected upside? You don’t need to wear pants -- or even shower -- for virtual dates. Here are some highlights.
The author is a wedding and lifestyle photographer based in Los Angeles, and is on Instagram @karacoleen
Straight, gay, bisexual, transgender or nonbinary: L.A. Affairs chronicles the search for love in and around Los Angeles — and we want to hear your story. You must allow your name to be published, and the story you tell has to be true. We pay $300 for each essay we publish. Email us at LAAffairs@latimes.com. You can find submission guidelines here.
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