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Dating in the Time of Corona

Since the lockdown started, my Instagram has become a showcase of couples in confinement. Every time I tap the pink and orange Insta-icon, I am greeted by a flood of couples bonding over baking bread, puzzling through an enormous jigsaw, or even announcing they have tied the knot at the courthouse in the wake of a cancelled wedding. Times may be tough, they say, but together, they will get through this.

Great. But what about the rest of us? Us bold singles who entered into the crisis alone? 

Despite my excellent, alluring profile in last month’s Stern Singles, I myself remain unattached. Can any of us singles find love? Or are we doomed to shudder alone in the stuffy darkness of our frigid apartments, taking our final Covid-rattled breath while liking a post about a heart-shaped sourdough loaf? Maybe we should just text our exes.

Lucky for you, reader, your intrepid reporter decided to find out. Starting while quarantined alone in Barcelona and continuing into my lockdown at my parents’ house in Denver, I have been painstakingly testing all the different dating apps and avenues. I’ve swiped right, chatted on FaceTime, emailed blind, and even met in person – all in pursuit of lockdown love. 

The Game in Spain

When the lockdown started, I had been a casual user of the dating apps in Barcelona. Tinder seems to be the most popular, followed by Bumble. Many people in Europe apparently also use a language-learning app, Tandem, to meet exotic “conversation” partners. Hinge served up almost exclusively American visitors and expats. Shortly after the lockdown began, all my apps drew an immediate uptick in matches and messages. Who would have thought being stuck inside alone would make people lonely?

After a few dead-ends, I found myself in an engaging conversation on Bumble with an attractive, intelligent girl from Central America. Luckily for me and my work-in-progress Spanish, she was fluent in English. Things progressed far enough that we scheduled a video chat: Bumble had conveniently just added a video feature. We had a warm conversation over respective glasses of wine – both of us masters students and new to Barcelona. We even discussed a clandestine meeting to exchange sultry glances at a bodega, but ultimately decided it unwise during the growing crisis. We could meet after the restrictions were lifted. Alas, it was not meant to be – rumors of a complete shutdown of Spanish airports and Trump’s increasingly erratic statements about the US border forced me to book a ticket home.

Girls Next Door

Once safely settled into my parent’s house in Colorado, I fired up the apps again. Much like in New York, Tinder in Denver seems to be mostly ads for “cam girls” and other questionable services. I did briefly deploy the passport feature to chat with girls in Paris, but the results were disappointing. My Bumble and Hinge, on the other hand, exploded like an inbox on a Monday morning – despite my Bumble profile still saying I was a recent arrival to Barcelona. I quickly struck up interesting conversations with girls on both platforms.

On Hinge, I was talking to a girl who had recently moved to Denver. She was bubbly, responsive – and cute, with a beaming smile and the requisite Colorado beers cheers-ing and mountain-exploring pictures. We set up a video date and had a flirtatious, engaging conversation. After texting back and forth for several days and it started to dawn on me – she thought I had permanently moved to Colorado. I broke the bad news and  she sadly requested that we stop chatting – she was looking for something long term and did not want to get attached. Goodbye, forever.

Bumble BAE

Luckily, I had another option who did not mind that I would be returning to New York –  a very pretty girl from Michigan. She was a school psychologist and we had started an especially interesting conversation – and it turned out she loves big beards. Our chat moved to texting, which led to a promising two-hour video chat and eventually a meet-up for drinks and sunset viewing in Denver’s iconic Wash Park. 

I walked up to her in the park and we awkwardly greeted each other from six feet away. The awkwardness did not end there. We set up a blanket in a choice spot, sipped our drinks, and started to chat. Just as dark rain clouds blew in on a cold spring breeze, the conversation chilled. She was planning to spend the summer off the grid hiking the Colorado Trail; I was planning to travel the world. Both our plans were uncertain in the time of Corona, but one thing was clear – we had nothing in common. After an uncomfortable hour walking around the park, we exchanged stilted goodbyes and a half-hearted “we should do this again.” We never did.

Double Blind Dating Trials

After a few more video chats and meetups (where increasingly I had to explain my enormous quarantine beard), I was finding that dating in Colorado was probably not going to work. Most girls wanted something with a future beyond this summer. Besides, I certainly could not pursue something casual living at my parents place.  I needed to focus on meeting women in my actual home: New York City. No more of this six-months-camping nonsense; I needed a city girl. Better yet, a fellow MBA – ambitious, well-traveled, stylish, and smart. Luckily, MBA Blind Love had just hit my inbox – a Wharton MBA had launched a service for graduating MBAs to connect with other singles in their post-grad city – with a catch. No personal details would be exchanged, especially no photos. 

Love is blind, right? 

After being connected with ten (!) girls a week for three weeks, I was overwhelmed. I only ever managed to communicate with a handful of my matches. After witty banter and comparing school experiences, I exchanged actual identities with a few girls, and we all discovered what we already knew: 

Love is not blind; in fact, it can see quite well.

Some girls were not my type, and some girls were not feeling my awesome pictures from Morocco. Ultimately, I made plans to meet up with a couple girls when (if?) the crisis was over, and we made it back to New York. I did not sign up for a fourth round.

In my League

My most recent strategy has been to return to an old favorite – The League. Ostensibly only for the most successful professionals on the scene, The League requires a LinkedIn verification in addition to the traditional social media login. Crucially, it is not GPS location based – I set it to New York City and New York women are who I see. I have some nice conversations going with girls who are also sheltering with parents outside the city. They are beautiful, successful, interesting, and funny. Many of them have MBAs. Not a single one is planning to live outdoors for the next several months. A promising start, indeed.

A Socially Distant Future

A start, but given the state of the world, an end is not presently in sight. For now, my life -dating and otherwise – is on pause. I want to believe that I’ll still be talking to any one of these incredible girls in six or eight months; or that I’ll fall in love over text and meet my soulmate for the first time in October. Only time will tell. On the other hand, who knows – maybe I’ll meet someone jogging in the park. Until then, unfortunately, it seems I will be watching Netflix alone, walking Wash Park with Lyla the dog,  and baking sourdough with my Mom. 

At least I don’t have to pretend I like jigsaw puzzles.

Pictured: Lyla – the only quarantine girl for me

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