I love dating. I’ve tried to fight this truth. I’ve tried to say I love meeting new people or I love romance, but that’s a lie. I genuinely love the act of dating. Or at least I did before the pandemic.
So many of the pleasures of dating — including off-line dating — have been taken away by our isolation. It seems like every day I log onto Twitter dot com to discover another mutual of mine somehow found a pandemic soulmate, but for me forming long term connections has felt hopeless. And yet I keep swiping! Because, again, I love dating. Even under the circumstances.
There have been several people who I’ve matched with and started talking to and even FaceTimed with only for it to eventually fizzle out. It’s not that it’s totally impossible to see someone safely — it just takes a lot more effort. I spent all summer in my friend’s one-bedroom apartment and if someone else was also able to isolate we could have met up. But that’s a lot of commitment for a first date and it’s hard enough finding someone you like, let alone like and who has a similar relationship to pandemic safety as you. And yet I’ve kept swiping.
Throughout the pandemic I’ve gone through periods where I really enjoyed chatting with people on apps, and periods where nothing could interest me less. Sometimes swiping is less about actually meeting people and more about remembering that other people exist. When faced with actually forming a texting relationship, the exhaustion of the moment can make that feel impossible. Dating is always a bit Sisyphean, but during the pandemic so many of the things that make it worth it are gone.
Sometimes someone will message me and I won’t respond not because I’m not interested in them, but because I’m just not interested in anyone. I’ve definitely messaged first a lot less in recent months than I did in the beginning of quarantine or before this all began.
I started thinking about the opening lines people send to me and I send to people and wondered if there was any consistency in when they lead to conversation and more. The answer? Not really! It seems to have much more to do with our moods and how much we like each other — at least on my end.
But what I discovered instead was a sort of pandemic dating log. Even now — especially now — we’re still looking for connection and whether we express that in a “hi” or in a wordy flirt I think it’s really lovely to witness. Dating might suck sometimes, but it’s also a space where people are vulnerable and take risks and learn about others and themselves. Even if I haven’t fallen in love, I’m grateful for the people I’ve met and the virtual moments we’ve shared. I’m grateful to have something that pushes me to keep swiping — even if all evidence says just wait until 2022.