BROWN'S CLOSE: Love in the Time of Corona
Dating behavior has changed due to the coronavirus. Singles are now encouraged to pursue socially distanced dating, be that virtually, or through wholesome, six foot spaced walks. This phenomenon has been a boon to online dating platforms. Bumble, the dating app with the second highest userbase in the United States, saw more than a 20 percent increase in usage during the early days of the pandemic, and hit the 100 million user mark in July. The app is geared towards women, with females bearing the brunt of messaging matches first. Men have twenty-four hours to respond, or not.
I am a veteran online dater, and have used Bumble specifically. The field of candidates on the app is endlessly fascinating, and the details men choose to put in their profiles is telling. Over the years, I’ve honed a fool proof vetting method for profiles, based on several cardinal offenses. For example, you must have all of your clothes on in all of your pictures. Possible exceptions can be made for beach pictures, but in that case, you cannot have more than one beach picture.
And then there are the Selfie Sins:
- One must never post selfies in bed;
- One must never post selfies in the bathroom;
- One must never post selfies in the car;
- If all of the photos in your profile are selfies, I am forced to assume you have no friends, or anyone else in your life who could take your picture.
Bumble does appeal to female empowerment enthusiasts, and in keeping with this theme, users are encouraged to post information on their profile that traditionally would not be discussed in mixed company. Bumble asks users to disclose their political and religious affiliations, and whether or not the user votes. Singles can then filter out matches who do not conform to their preferred affiliations.
You can also filter by the most important quality of all: the astrological sign.
I’ve had dating success on Bumble, with “success” defined as dating people long term whom I met through the app. Those aren’t the fun stories, however. People just want to hear about the disasters.
Not to disappoint, some dates were resoundingly painful. For example, I went out with a college educated, 6-foot-7 math major. He was a self-proclaimed Catholic opera lover and cello player, who now worked as a commercial fisherman. Reading all of these specifics in his profile piqued my curiosity; he sure seemed to have a lot going on.
We had coffee at Starbucks for the requisite 47 minutes. I asked questions, and he took full 30 second pauses before he would answer each. He would drag on his drink, look off ponderously at some destination just above my right shoulder, and sigh, “You know, I never thought about that.”
A few days after the date, he texted: “My brain hurts from your questioning. Are you always that intense?”
To be fair, I did ask him a lot of questions. Those questions, however, were about deep topics like, “What’s your favorite movie?”
After he sat silently for a time, and then announced he’d never thought about it, I downgraded to an easier level: “What’s your favorite color?”
That too was a head scratcher.
Among a few other life lessons, Bumble’s most persistent impact on me is to be skeptical of people I find on the Internet:
- People on the Internet may not be all there. I stopped seeing one man after he screamed about how much his genitalia hurt while we were at the Anchorage Symphony.
- People on the Internet do not waste time. Multiple men over the years have asked me to move in with them on the third date. One even asked me to move across state lines.
And yet —
- People on the Internet are flaky. I once had a guy miss our date at 11 in the morning on a Saturday because he did not set his alarm. Willing to give him a second chance, I agreed to meet him for lunch the following week. He texted to confirm lunch plans that morning, and then later that he was on his way.
The trouble was that he texted to say he was leaving his house in the suburbs 10 minutes after the date had already started, and it would take him another 27 minutes to arrive. Honestly, waiting around for another half-hour would have been the death knell to my dignity.
- People on the Internet are weird. One man’s profile had a photo of him completely nude, submerged in a bathtub full of royal blue paint. No other explanation or notation.
Sure, online dating can be fun. It can also be the source of a stellar headache. Good luck to all the Single Ladies.
Sarah Brown is the Love Doctor. Write to her at [email protected], and on Twitter @BrownsClose1. “Close” is a British term for alley or cul-de-sac. For more of Sarah’s musings, visit Browns-Close.com.