“Looking for hookups, not vaccinated. This is a weak virus.”
I know what you’re thinking: Is that a line from a Jane Austen novel? No, but it is a pile of garbage that I see on dating apps every third profile. The pandemic could’ve been a time to acknowledge how much we need each other. Instead, coronavirus became a horny pickup line to some, with a sea of men’s profiles boasting, “Look, I don’t have COVID. How do I know? I don’t, honestly. I also don’t believe the virus is real. Do you want me to finger you or not?”
In March 2020, first dates moved from crowded bars to computer screens. As a hopeless romantic, I believed that the possibility of quarantining together might make dating more idyllic. Everyone would have to learn to be patient and make casual conversation. Men would have to take the time to get to know you, because virtual dating would ensure that the evening couldn’t end in a one-night stand. I remember seeing single women posting about men sending them food deliveries so that they could share a virtual Zoom meal, even going as far as Postmating a bottle of wine to pair. And I was so on board. I hopped on dating apps and waited for matches to make an effort.
But as I quickly discovered by swiping through men’s profiles, even if the world is ending, many cis men will still be like, “Let me know where to put my penis. My name is John, 29,” and call it a day. Instead of planning cute, virtual, food-filled dates, single men behaved more along the lines of, “I don’t have this dumb deadly thing, come over!” There may be a few exceptions, but good lord — across the board, it’s felt like single men are actually behaving worse during the pandemic.
Mr. MoneyHero was bragging about going out and coughing on essential workers.
Another obstacle to my hopeful romantic plan was that so many single men were seemingly willing to ignore the coronavirus altogether. In April 2020, I matched with many men who told me that they were “honestly loving” the pandemic (???), including one man who berated me for staying inside during New York’s case spikes — he preferred to “go outside and support as many small businesses” as he could. The entire city was in lockdown, but Mr. MoneyHero was bragging about going out and coughing on essential workers while slipping them crinkled $5 bills. OK, Brad.
My personal favorite exchange went down in June 2020, when a guy told me that he had flown to “over 20 states” since the start of the pandemic, just “taking photos for fun.” Yes, this man was on a dating app, boasting about flying from New York City to places all over the country, potentially spreading COVID-19 like wildfire. After this conversation, I began to wonder if it was even possible to meet a single person who remotely understood the pandemic’s devastating impact on so many. And honestly, there was no way I was going to spend a masked or virtual first date explaining it to anyone. It made me yearn for pre-COVID dating, when a bad match meant the guy was creepy, mean, or loved Dave Matthews Band too much. Not, you know, proud to be potentially harming people with his germs or denying their suffering entirely.
Now that vaccine rollout is increasing and we’re (hopefully) nearing the tail-end of the pandemic, the biggest lesson I’ve learned is you cannot make anyone rise to a level they wouldn’t rise to on their own. I had an idea that the pandemic would motivate men to try harder to make a true connection, but those men — the ones who are invested in finding love — will already try hard, regardless of a global health crisis. And I can’t wait to meet those men.
On the bright side, if the circumstances hadn’t been so dire, it might have taken me longer to see these guys’ true character. I might have flirted with them briefly, may have even gone on a few dates, before realizing that they’re objectively horrible.
At the very least, I now have a great icebreaker question to use on first dates, post-pandemic: “Did you go on any multi-city trips during lockdown?” And if they say yes? I’m packing my bags and moving to a world only populated by dogs.