April 18, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Dating horror stories: Why COVID dating didn’t work for me

Two years ago, I completely gave up on dating. Having always felt insecure at gay bars, and with both my personal and professional networks tapped, dating apps had been my only means to meet new people. But it had led only to years of bad dates and frustrations — I was ghosted twice in one week, and for first dates! I threw up my arms and deleted the apps. It just doesn’t seem to be my time, I thought.

Shortly before the pandemic, I decided to try dating again. This time, I hired a matchmaker. Yes, a matchmaker. Aside from the expense, I had avoided this suggestion because it felt so desperate — until a friend encouraged me to view it as an avenue not yet pursued, and I gave in. I was looking forward to my first matchmaker date in mid-March, but I had to cancel once discovering I had possibly been exposed to the coronavirus. Halfway through my 14-day quarantine, all of California hunkered down. The matchmaker offered virtual dates, but I chose to freeze my membership instead of wasting my investment on awkward Zoom dates with no chance to test in-person chemistry.

When I spoke to friends about the irony of finally dating again only to be interrupted by the apocalypse, several advised it was time to give dating apps one more try. With everyone stuck inside, people were forced to get to know each other and be less dismissive. So I downloaded Hinge.

Guess what happened on my first FaceTime date? He didn’t show. Never have I been stood up in my own home. And I even did my (increasingly difficult to manage) hair for this guy. When I texted him to see if he was OK, he just said he’d forgot. Didn’t even offer an apology.

I was thrilled when I clicked with the lawyer whose profile pic resembled Andy Cohen, my celebrity crush for over a decade. The lawyer was new to L.A, supposedly around my age, and we had shared passions in travel and food. I realized maybe we weren’t a match when he complained he had lost a quarter inch off his biceps since gyms had closed. But once he slipped and admitted he was 48 and not 38, I was done. Glad I never wasted time with an actual, in-person date. Older guys, I like. Liars, I don’t. His excuse? He wouldn’t show up in as many matches if he were truthful.

Then there was the 29-year-old oncologist I met for a socially distanced stroll and drinks in Beverly Hills. He was slightly too young for me and a little scattered, but I agreed to a second date. We walked to a Mexican restaurant on Sawtelle Boulevard for margaritas to go, which we enjoyed at a distance on a nearby stretch of grass. Later, as we were parting ways for the night, he admitted he was drunk and tried to kiss me. What medical professional trades respiratory droplets with a stranger right now? I let it go and saw him once more, when he revealed he wasn’t actually an M.D. Huh? He said he worked with cancer patients — whatever that meant — and thought it “was just easier” to tell me he was an oncologist.

My parting gift was a jar of hot fudge he’d randomly brought me.

I still question what happened with the next guy, a data analyst. We met at Alfred in Beverly Hills to grab coffee before heading up to Franklin Canyon for a masked and socially distanced hike. He was a fellow Francophile; we laughed and had awesome first date energy. We agreed to a second date when parting, and he texted me when I got home to reiterate the sentiment. He never responded when I wrote back: “Sounds great! When is good for you?”

I waited one day before reaching out again. My “Hey, handsome, how’s your Sunday?” was met with radio silence.

There was the pediatrician I met online but never in person: Should I have reported him for repeatedly referring to the skimpy bathing suit he was sporting in the pictures he sent me as his “diaper”?

The most promising was the nonprofit director. I would ordinarily not agree to meet a stranger at his house, but with only so many options, a midweek invitation to enjoy wine around his fire pit sounded nice, with social distancing built in to the experience. I was sort of hoping I wouldn’t like him as I schlepped to Echo Park, but a glass turned into a shared bottle and suddenly I had been there over three hours.

He invited me back for a Saturday brunch, and we were having a lovely time until I got a frantic call from my mother telling me to head home since the marches over the death of George Floyd and others at the hands of police were becoming heated near the Grove, and there was no telling how the night could unfold. I left hastily and then he left town. We remained in touch, but when I noticed I was the one always initiating conversation, I realized maybe he wasn’t as into me as I thought. Still, I swear there was something there and sometimes wonder whether, if things had unfolded differently that night, he would be my boyfriend now.

All this disappointment has led to my decision to stop dating again.

This time, it’s a rational choice as opposed to giving in to hopeless defeat. Maybe some are treating the dating-during-coronavirus process more respectfully, and maybe it’s different in the straight world, but I’ve seen that even the societal and spatial restrictions of a pandemic can’t cure the dismal behavior of courtship in the mobile age.

While the rest of the world is on pause, perhaps my dating life should be too.

It just doesn’t seem to be my time.

The author is a luxury travel advisor who lives in West Los Angeles. He is on Instagram at @occasionalinsider.

L.A. Affairs chronicles the search for romantic love in all its glorious expressions in the L.A. area, and we want to hear your true story. We pay $300 for a published essay. Email LAAffairs@latimes.com. You can find submission guidelines here.