Romance in the Time of 'Rona: Realistic or Ridiculous?

Let’s be clear: I’m not a romantic person. Am I an absolute sucker for rom-coms (and any scene from Glee where the couples sing to each other)? Painfully so. Am I capable of performing romantic gestures for people I care about? Again, yes, although sometimes my idea of romantic gestures involves dragging my Valentine to Chili’s so I can eat a grilled cheese. But as a general rule, I don’t have many romantic notions when it comes to actually connecting with people. What are the chances that anyone we meet at this age is going to be The One? I’m a realist; I don’t believe in things like love at first sight or online dating.

The latter brings us to why we’re all here: how does dating work in 2020, when we can’t see or meet or touch? Is it valid? Is it worth it?

Joey Friends ThinkingI didn’t believe that dating apps during the pandemic would get me anywhere, but amidst the “horny on main” Internet culture, my desperation possessed me: I buckled and paid $13 to get Tinder Premium. I swiped left on literally hundreds of people who had swiped right on me, each one justifying my skepticism. The few conversations I struck up were hardly anything to write home about — us being confined to our homes made us less willing to connect, making the already-dry act of online dating even drier. But when it seemed that all hope was lost, I matched with the nerd who inspired me to write this article.

Our conversation started out as dry as any other, but it quickly escalated into something near perfection. He asked me personal questions and cracked jokes that were actually about our common interests — no forced sexual innuendos! What a relief! I found myself blushing over his more vulnerable messages and feeling less inclined to respond to my other matches, even though I continued warning myself: I was getting too involved. There was no way he was an exception to my rule of male mediocrity. I put off calling him for that exact reason — nothing real was going to come of a Tinder match who lived 100 miles away, right?

Gif from the movie 10 Things I Hate About You

Our first phone call lasted until 6:30 in the morning and proved me wrong. The nightly ones that followed — of similar length and enjoyment value — shoved my face in it. He was getting attached, which was my cue to bolt, but I knew that I would be lying to both of us if I said I wasn’t attached, too. So I stood my ground.

If you’re also striking up a remote relationship, you’re probably receiving the same criticism that I am. The relentless teasing and endless cycle of “You’ve never even met him!” make me want to run to my skepticism for comfort, because it makes so much more sense. I don’t believe in this concept! What am I doing? The idea of someone waiting for you until the end of quarantine seems like a fantasy.

He's Just Not That Into You gif

But, if you’re struggling with these questions, try to do what I do: think about the things they whispered at 2 a.m. that made you press your smiling face into your pillow, or the perfectly-timed meme they sent when you were having a pointless argument, or how supportive they were when you beat them at online Scrabble. Even if online dating seems pointless, your loved ones should still respect your feelings. If they can’t: don’t let the haters get you down! Maybe this one is more than a passing Tinder match. (I think mine is.)