I am an absurdly monogamous person. I say absurd only because I am nineteen years old with an entire adult life ahead of me to settle for someone who is “good enough,” or to overcompensate for areas in the relationship in which the other person is lacking. Regardless, here I am: a single woman for the first time in a little over three years, aptly in the era of social isolation.
Coronavirus resigned newly single individuals like me to amplified feelings of loneliness and months spent romanticizing past relationships. Not only am I no longer in a relationship, but I am stripped of the fundamental right to a rebound. I lay here, in a proverbial fetal position, craving the comforts of emotional and physical intimacy, without any conventional means of obtaining it.
Gone are the days of “meet-cutes” in fraternity basements and unwelcome-yet-oddly-flattering advances from classmates at the college-town bar. We are entering an age of exclusively online dating. With my inability to be single made painstakingly clear, I digress, while simultaneously downloading Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, and on the advice of my cousin, The League. Four pictures and no witty one-liner to put in my bio later, my profiles are complete.
In a matter of seconds, I am shown a carefully curated snapshot of a person, and am forced to make a decision — do I swipe right or left? If I swipe right on Chad, whose only picture is of him in front of a mirror wearing only a suspiciously low-sitting towel, am I objectifying him? Surely, I am not interested in his sub-par Spotify recommendations or stale repartee. What about Kevin – a senior engineering student at the University of Pennsylvania? He has a decently high earning potential. Does that make me a gold digger? I end up swiping right on both of them, and within five minutes I have a message from Chad. If Coronavirus doesn’t take you out, can I? Not my favorite line, but I’ll take it. I wonder who I am to the five different men I am entertaining conversations with.
I use Tinder as a form of escapism to stave off the feeling that I am, for the first time in a long time, alone.
In this wonderful world of swipes and matches, where external validation is free flowing and my actions have few real-world consequences, I can speak in a language of sexual innuendos and confidence-induced condescension. I am not hindered by acute self-awareness; I am zealous and witty and sexy and confident – all things that take a greater degree of effort in real life than online. When I grow tired of the flannel-wearing, fish-holding breed of man in Western New York, I situate myself in Nashville, Tennessee where I live out my high school fantasy of studying at Vanderbilt and vying for the attention of an Adonis-like southern male. If nothing else, the hours spent swiping were a welcome alternative to exploring the depths of my subconscious – something I do too much of when I have an abundance of free time.
Perhaps I should be ashamed of my blatant misuse of the platform. I downloaded the app with the intention of filling a void left by my ex-boyfriend, but the redundancy of the conversation deepened my longing for meaningful discourse, and the realization set in that I am just not the Tinder-type. Frankly, the thought of meeting up with these men in person evokes images of Law and Order: SVU. Picture this: girl joins online dating site, serial killer moonlights as twenty-three-year-old finance bro, girl goes to guy’s apartment for drinks and is never heard from again. No thanks, I’ll pass. I am perfectly comfortable engaging from a distance.
My flair for the dramatic aside, I crave companionship. I say that I want to fall in love, but really, I want to already be in love. I want a warm hug and a soft kiss and a firm hand on the small of my back. I want to skip to the part where we sip piping hot coffee as the morning sun streaks through the blinds and he knows better than to admit that I snore obnoxiously loud.
I don’t foresee this happening in a time where contagion feels imminent and opportunities for social gathering are limited.
I have no choice but to find solace in my mother’s collection of expensive skincare products; in Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem and Nora Ephron’s I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman; and in the twenty-three year old I met online who asks me to get drinks with him at least once I day. I’ll never go, but at least I have the option.