Dating During COVID

Any time I speak to my married friends about my experiences with dating, I get almost the exact same response. “Thank God I’m out of the dating pool!”

Yes, thank God you are because it is not a fun swim—especially after the age of 30, and particularly in the age of COVID-19. The bars are closed. Most restaurants have limited seating or are only doing take-out. Social distancing does not really lend itself to snuggling with a new suitor. And the idea of holding someone’s germ-infested hand has me already experiencing a fever and dry cough.

That really leaves only dating apps.

So, I decided to try three dating apps and report back to our Maine Women readers. I used the same information and the same pictures for all three. I was honest about being a reporter and a writer for a magazine, and even that I was on the app to write an article. And I expressed a desire to find a lasting relationship. Names have been changed to protect the oddballs.

This was quite the journey! Throughout my month-long experience I was inundated with unwanted messages, semi-stalked, kind-of catfished, sexually harassed, and propositioned. I promise you that I did find true love, though.

To begin, I searched for “dating” in the Google Play store. (If you are an iPhone user, this is your App Store.) I only chose high-rated apps or programs with many downloads that were free. I am already a broke writer, and the pandemic is not helping those circumstances!

The first program I used was Tinder. Tinder is well-known as a dating app that involves “swiping” on the profiles of people. If you are interested in a person, you swipe right. If you are not interested, you swipe left.

I like Tinder because you can access all the features for free, and you have to match with someone for them to be able to message you. I have used Tinder frequently in the past with a variety of luck. I have met boyfriends on Tinder, as well as a surprising number of men who turned into good friends. Of course, because this is the internet, I have also ended up interacting with a fair number of weirdos and creeps as well.

I sent a message to every match with a little greeting. I matched with about 30 men. About 20 wrote back. Of those who did, only handful turned into actual conversations, and those were almost all a varying degree of strange. This was a different strange than I had experienced in the past with Tinder, though, as my profile clearly stated I was looking for a relationship. Apparently, some of these guys read that and assumed that I meant at once. As in, from the moment we started messaging.

There was Allen, who immediately began calling me “hun” and “baby.” Allen informed me, after less than an hour of talking, that he thought we could be a “perfect match.” I’m not sure what he based that on, other than that we were both looking for a relationship. After all, what else could a woman over 30 possibly want? Allen informed me he was an independent man who did not need my money to live because he had his own job. What a relief!

“What makes you think we could be a perfect match?” I asked Allen.

“Let’s talk more and see where this goes,” said Allen. I guess I was moving too fast for him.

I also matched with David, who told me his entire life story from the age of three. This account included how often he used to have sex with his ex-girlfriend and how good he was at it. (For the record, I did not ask for that information.) David also let me know me that he was looking for a “Healthy and Happy Relationship!”

My suspicions about David not being the right guy for me were confirmed when he sent me a message telling me he had a very busy weekend, followed by, “I miss u baby,” with a crying face emoji. How can you miss me? We have literally never met and have only been texting for three days.

I also tried Hinge, a dating app that advertises itself as being “designed to be deleted!” Hinge prides itself on really being meant for people searching for a serious relationship. Unfortunately, it is also really meant for people who are willing to spend money on a dating app!

The free version of Hinge only allows you ten “likes” per day. Once you “like” someone, you can send them a message. I probably sent about fifty or sixty messages on Hinge, as I only used it five or six days. I had three matches, and all of them petered out within four conversational exchanges. Including Tony, who wanted to know almost immediately if I was OK with “a kink or two.” I was not!

The final dating app I used was Plenty of Fish, also known as POF. Honestly, this dating platform is my least favorite, even though it is totally free. POF has zero restrictions on whom you can message. This policy means that within an hour of creating my profile, I began receiving unsolicited messages from men. Some were simply polite and friendly, but some were downright unsavory.

Before I continue, I want to take a moment to remind all of you ladies that you do not owe men on a dating website anything. You do not have to answer their messages, and they should figure out how to take a hint. Of the roughly 30 messages I got from men I was not interested in, three did not accept that I was not answering. One sent me six separate greetings. Most of those were just the word “hey” over and over. At one point he apologized for “bothering” me, but then continued to send me “hey” another three times over three days! #SorryNotSorry?

Another man, and I use the term pretty loosely here, sent me eight messages asking if I was interested in a one-night stand. He insisted he was a “stud” and that I would not turn him down if I met him in person. He got pretty graphic a few times, and I finally got fed up. After he messaged me at 2 a.m. to again insist that I wanted his eggplant emoji (Yes, he literally sent me an eggplant emoji), I had had enough, and I crafted the following response:

“Listen, I appreciate all the effort you’ve put into messaging me over and over and over despite the fact that I clearly have not answered any of them. I am not interested because I do not want a one-night stand. It doesn’t matter that you have put up an attractive picture because I don’t want a one-night stand. I am looking to date someone and spend time with that person and hopefully enter a relationship. Thanks so much.”

He stopped writing to me after that.

Another fine gentleman sent me a series of messages informing me that he had recognized me from my weekend job as a cashier. Then more messages asking why I was not writing back to him. That one was slightly terrifying, honestly. Obviously, you hope that guys like this one are harmless, and most likely they are. However, there is that one-in-a-hundred guy who is not harmless.

Be careful out there, and be aware of the information you put on your dating profile. I live in a fairly safe community, and that experience still spooked me.

At the start of this article, I promised that I had found true love. I was not lying. After a month of this nonsense and not finding anyone, I began to feel desperate. I really wanted to go on a date for this article. But I was not willing to settle for a guy that I was not interested in, and I should not have to. In fact, nobody should have to. Being in a relationship is great, but it’s not so great that you should lower your standards. Then I realized I had already found an excellent partner: me.

I find all my jokes hilarious. I get to pick the restaurant when I go out to eat. I agree on what to do. I do not hog the blankets or keep myself awake snoring. I get along with all my friends.

So, until you can find that perfect match who lives up to your high standards, ladies? Work on loving yourself.

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