The Corona Virus Is Redefining Online Dating

We are living in uncharted times right now. The COVID-19 cases in America have surpassed both China and Italy, and “Shelter in Place” orders have been issued by governors all over the country. We’re cooped up in our houses (or, in my case, apartment) and are unintentionally learning more than ever about our relationships.

Married folks are learning new things about each other and their partnerships. Have most dads ever spent this much time with their kids? Harder to hide all those online shopping orders when your husband is home, huh? And single folks are also entering a whole new world of “online dating.”

Apparently, the singles are out here redefining what “dating” means. Yep, we’ve officially moved into real life online dating. We can’t actually leave the house to go on dates, so people are spicing it up.

A great friend of mine called me a few days ago and said, “Okay, give it to me. What’s your FaceTime setup?”

“Huh?!” I replied. “My FaceTime setup?” I wasn’t sure what she meant. Anybody who has FaceTimed me in the last two weeks has gotten me in all my homebody glory – Hair lookin’ a mess, no makeup on, and some sort of oversized T-shirt. 

She replied with so much disdain. “Oh no, hunny. You better get it together. You need a setup.”

She then proceeded to put me onto the quarantine game I didn’t know I needed:

“Vanessa has a FaceTime corner. It’s near her big bay window, so there’s a ton of natural light. She put up her ring light for the evening sessions and she writes down all her outfits, so she doesn’t accidentally repeat them with the same person.”

“Layla has been calling a guy every night around dinner time and cooks in her lingerie.”

“I’ve been taking makeup tutorials on YouTube. I’m going to perfect my natural look, so it looks like I woke up like this.”

My head started spinning. Clearly, I was a classic case of “when keeping it real goes wrong.” Here I was, thinking we were all taking a break from the beauty standards the non-quarantined world usually imposes on is, when really, the competition had only gotten tougher. Silly of me for thinking that I might find a guy who might just love me for me, looking like Buckwheat and all. 

Later that night, another single friend called me. “Ash, you have to get the House Party app. I need you to be my wingman.”

“Huh?!” I replied… again. I had no idea what “House Party” was, and I also had no idea how I would be her wingman. Not only are we across the country, but we’re practicing social distancing, Sis. 

Confused, but determined not to be washed, I scrolled over to the App Store and downloaded the app. The setup process was easy and before I could navigate my way through the app, she invited me into a house party. Next, she gave me the rundown on how to use the app. However, as she was giving me the tutorial, I couldn’t help but notice she had on eyeliner, a red lip, and her hair in a perfectly positioned “messy bun.” Me? I looked a bit like a homeless fitness instructor. Don’t ask me why I’m wearing all this athletic wear during a pandemic when I haven’t worked out in 12 days. That’s another blog for another day. 

Before I knew it, another friend of ours popped up in the “House Party.”

“Wait, did she tell you to come here, too?” I asked.

“No. Girl, I BEEN using House Party. It’s getting me through this damn quarantine. My little boo and I have been playing all the games on here. I’ve been betting with his friends and shit. It’s fun. I just wanted to see what y’all were doing.”

How did every single girlfriend of mine seem to have their own tip to maintaining their dating life while quarantined? At what point in the great toilet paper debacle of 2020 did all the singles get together and rewrite the dating manual? And why didn’t anyone tell me? I digress. 

Anyhow, my friend locked the chat and gave us the lowdown. A “locked room” on House Party is like “Seven Minutes in Heaven.” Your entire friend list gets to see you’re online, but unlike the other House Party rooms, people cannot see who you’re in a chat with and they can’t enter when you’re in a locked room. 

She broke down the plan. A guy she had been seeing was online and a sucker for jumping into her House Party calls when she was listed as “online.” Upon his entrance into our chat, she wanted us to casually leave the room, one by one, to leave them alone “accidentally.” It was basically like being out and saying, “Let’s go to the bathroom,” just so you can walk by the guy’s table you’ve been eyeing all night. It was an online dating setup, and we were all game. I mean, desperate times call for desperate measures, right?

Apparently, long gone are the days and ways of dating apps. We’re turning our current apps into whole dating playgrounds. The internet is not just the place you meet a man anymore; in a pandemic, it’s also how you keep one. 

As anxious as I was to deliver you this information, I can’t quite say this approach feels totally natural. In fact, it feels completely forced. I went ahead and put makeup on for my next FaceTime “date,” and I even promised to send photos that didn’t include a sports bra. But I have to admit, getting ready for a date gives you so much more satisfaction when you actually get to leave the house. I haven’t had to take my makeup off after not going anywhere since the last time I got ghosted. I’ll admit… I was triggered. 

But perhaps that’s why I’m still single. I refuse to follow some “get rich quick” scheme to find a life partner. I keep thinking that I will find someone who will fall in love with all the parts of me, even though we live in a world obsessed with only the exterior. You might have a similar mindset as me, Young Queen, but just know that while you’re at home looking like Shrek, a lot of your homegirls are only answering that phone after a full YouTube tutorial-inspired beat.   

In retrospect, it’s probably in my best interests to listen to my friends and get dressed up, but I’m going to put my own old-school twist on it. I’m thinking a red lip for my grocery store run tomorrow to start? 

Unless I end up at a hospital and meet a nice doctor like my mother has always wanted, I think it’s the only real (and legal) way to meet a man these days. 

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