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Dating in the time of COVID

By MAIA MARQUEZ, The Philippine STAR Published Jan 22, 2021 5:00 am Updated Jan 22, 2021 5:31 pm

As someone who basks in the comfortable and familiar, I’ve fallen back into watching the world go by, living vicariously through the blossoming love lives — or lack thereof — that others have had over this emerging normal. To make up for lost time spent indoors, they’ve countlessly swiped right, had endless online conversations, and the bravest of them have even gone on errands with their matches.

I don’t think I have it in me yet to be as brave as them and open myself up to the online dating world. And so, I share their stories, with the hope that somehow someone might find the courage to take their own scary leap of faith.

The one that didn’t quite make it or break it

After numerous swipe rights and many “It’s a Match!” notifications, Dani* (25) found Franco* (26). As it goes, they started talking, and one conversation led to another, all leaving Dani just the right amount of content — not too excited, not too bored, either. Two weeks into chatting, Franco finally made a move and asked her out. They had dinner and went for coffee after, conversations ranging between anything and everything, but none that made quite an impression on Dani.

All it takes is that first date to make it or break it, and while Franco didn’t really make it, he didn’t quite break it, either. So, Dani decided to give it another try. After all, doesn’t the premise of matching on a dating app express that there’s some sort of attraction between both from the get-go? They had scheduled to go out again two weeks later, but then quarantine happened.

Fast forward to nine months after their first date and, for the first time during this quarantine, Franco asked to meet up with her at the dog groomer’s, and she agreed. Their second encounter was still rather dull — nothing too exciting, but nothing too boring, either. When asked about her thoughts and feelings after, Dani felt the same: that things were smooth and steady, with no telling what could happen next, if anything.

The one with the messed-up timelines

Sam* (23) was still hung up on a past fling. In a weak attempt to get over that relationship she never had, she did as most would do: download a dating app and go on a swipe-right spree. There, she found David* (25). While she always had her past at the back of her mind, David was that new, shiny toy that managed to pique her interest.

Realizing she was still attached to the previous guy, she went to meet David without the anxiety that normally accompanied first dates. It was casual and chill, and she found it to be going surprisingly well. So, needless to say, she didn’t expect what came next.

As they went down the grocery aisles, he revealed that he’d been working towards recovering from past trauma. She felt afraid of the possibility of having to fix someone she barely knew. Weren’t these the kinds of things you talked about when you’ve established that your relationship was something more? She shut the thought out and realized that being in lockdown probably messed with timelines and sped things up.

Their errand together ended, and even before Sam got to her car, she got a text from David: “When can we do groceries again?” A bit taken aback by the rush of it all, she delayed her response but eventually texted back, “Soon.” 

While they have yet to go on that second “date,” she’s quite open to the possibility of this turning into something more, despite her still holding on to a former seemingly dead-end non-relationship.

Somehow, you always end up finding something you may or may not have been looking for, and it will always be a story worth telling. And if the odds are in your favor, you might just find luck in love.

The ones that slid into each other’s DMS

Not your typical online dating success story, Annika* (25) and Carlo’s* (22) started with a random e-numan with mutual friends. Finding similarities with each other through group conversations, they would message one another privately to share inside jokes and secrets. Somehow in that call, people would drop off one by one — all for different reasons — until it was just the two of them left. While their one-on-one conversation went on and on, they eventually had to call it a night.

Later on, they moved to chatting on social media, and then eventually through a messaging app not long after. They continued talking every day — exchanges going on until very early morning, as if the sunrise signaled it was finally time to go to bed. 

Annika knew that she could only confirm what she was feeling the moment they’d meet again in person. So, after around three months of talking online, Annika and Carlo finally met up to pick up their laundry. What sparked their “So what are we?” conversation that day was their mutual anxiety of going out together for the first time. Long story short, they’re now happily dating online and offline.

The ones that made the perfect match

The pandemic was taking a toll on Nicole* (24), and she needed a distraction from her day job. She found swiping left and right on dating apps to be a mindless pastime she could learn to love. While she made a few matches here and there, she wasn’t too eager about any of them in particular.

That was until she matched with James* (23). He was sweet, and he seemed to have a genuine interest in her — the kind that she didn’t feel from any of her other matches. 

One particular video call over drinks with Nicole’s friends was what changed everything. They all had had one too many, and no one could really tell where the night was headed. In a private conversation between Nicole and James, he asked, “Will you be my girlfriend?” A bit buzzed but conscious enough to think that it might just be the alcohol blurring James’s thinking, Nicole didn’t give a straight answer and decided to sleep on it.

In the morning, after having recovered from the wild night in, James asked Nicole if she remembered his question and what she thought of it — because, to his sober self, it still stood. In a feeling of semi-panic, she reluctantly said yes, she remembered; and yes, she was up for it. 

The next day, to properly feel things out between them, James made the trip to Nicole’s house to deliver her a home-cooked meal. They saw each other in the flesh for the first time, clicked so easily, and knew they had made the right decision. The rest is history.

If you’re just as confused as any of the first two examples, then I’d advise you to hold on to the hope that things will get better. If you’re able to identify with any of the latter two success stories, I’m proud of you. And if you’re anything like me, then I hope one day you find it in you to take a chance. Because somehow, you always end up finding something you may or may not have been looking for, and it will always be a story worth telling. And if the odds are in your favor, you might just find luck in love.

Banner and thumbnail photo  Art by Samantha Bumanlag