Toilet paper puns and isolation innuendos-the global lockdown saw singletons chat more than ever online. In April, Michelle Heffernan spoke with Emer, Linda and Mark about their online dating action. Three months later she asks if the ‘crona-mance' became a real life fling? Or if the isolationship was all a fantasy.
“I was really excited about meeting him, says Emer, 26 from Waterford. We had been talking for almost three months, we had three hour phone conversations and I believed when we got to meet, it wouldn’t be awkward.”
I had sent him a present for his birthday, he had gotten to know my family, they had loved him.
Emer had matched with a guy from Waterford around St. Patrick’s Day, and after three months of waiting, they had finally arranged a date to meet.”We said we would meet up when the two kilometre restriction was lifted,” she says, “but then on the Friday before that Monday, he didn’t text me back much. There had always been chit chat, but I sent a message and he just didn’t reply. By Sunday I had been totally ghosted. Just radio silence, no response, nothing. I was like WTF? We had been talking every single day up to that point!”
Emer isn’t the only one to have her isolationship bubble burst. Back in April, Linda, 42, from Kildare had been regularly video dating Ray, and he had even met her family over Zoom. “We had been talking for 14 of 15 weeks, all day every day” says Linda. “In June, when things were moved forward, we arranged to do a socially distanced picnic in the park.
The morning of the date he texted me at 7am to say his daughter had been sick and he couldn’t make it, but then there was no talk of rescheduling. Then it was my birthday and I barely got a ‘Happy Birthday’. I had sent him a present for his birthday, he had gotten to know my family, they had loved him. Eventually I said ‘Look, what’s going on?’ He said in the last few weeks his anxiety was really high, he said it wasn’t fair on me and he just stopped texting.”
Too serious too fast
According to a survey by online dating application Bumble, 47% of users believe that people will be kinder to one another on apps as a result of COVID 19. But Mark has been the only person to report positive results from his pandemic dating experience. “Over the last three months I’ve dated six different women, and slept with three of them,” he says “so it’s been a fortuitous time for me dating wise.”
I had only been seeing her for about a month and she told me she loved me. She wasn’t working at all, and she had nothing else occupying her time.
In April, Mark had been tempted to break lockdown to have casual sex, and he admitted he did break restrictions to meet up with one woman. One weekend I surprised a girl in Dublin,” he says. “That same week, I had dates with two different girls, one Monday and one Tuesday. Interestingly, Mark even had one girl tell him she had fallen in love with him. “I had only been seeing her for about a month and she told me she loved me. While I was still working full time, she wasn’t working at all, and she had nothing else occupying her time. I think the pandemic made it a much bigger thing for her. It all got too serious too fast.”
Men will be men
I had hoped that people would come out of it with a little bit more empathy, all I’m seeing is a selfishness that has been amplified
Is it possible the new normal of online dating is favouring men more so than women? “I think what happened to me is happening for other people” Emer says. “I feel like lads were on Tinder during lockdown for entertainment, just something to keep them occupied. I feel like fellas are always going to be fellas, and I don’t think dating will change; men will be men you know?
Linda likewise, was so turned off by her experience, she has since quit online dating apps altogether. “I’m done with the apps now; every time I go on those apps, the only thing I get out of it is disappointment. I had hoped that people would come out of it with a little bit more empathy, all I’m seeing is a selfishness that has been amplified”.
And while Mark has had no shortage of dates in recent months, he has yet to begin a relationship. Perhaps the sooner first date drinks are possible the better, so no one is wasting any time investing in a fantasy online. “I would skip the online talk and meet them” Emer concludes. “I still don’t know what his reasons were for wasting my time for three months.”