Love at
First Swipe

Considering that it’s everywhere—from reality television to dating apps—what is love... and matchmaking in particular during these, well, extraordinary times?

By Maya Cooper
Illustration by Bianca Austria

At a young age, women are told to “be patient and love will find you.” “It’ll show up when you least expect it,” they say. For those of you unicorns who met your mate by following that advice, congratulations! You defied the odds.

As for the rest of y’all, get to swiping.

Now, let me preface by saying, this piece is NOT sponsored by *insert preferred dating app* nor is it a testimonial. But as someone seeking a good man and long-term partner-in-love smack dab in the middle of a global pandemic, online dating has allowed me to get “out there” without actually being outside.

Don’t let my enthusiasm fool you, however. Scrolling through countless questionable profiles on the hunt to find a handful of compatible-looking men or women is a tedious task and deserves recognition. It takes dedication and unwavering commitment to take a conversation from a stale “Hey,” with a random stranger to the next level. But in my observations (for R&D purposes, of course!), it’s becoming clearer and clearer that young people are more here for it and giving it a good honest try, portaging through the quagmire toward the oft-fabled and loosely-promised full-time romance.

It’s becoming clearer and clearer that young people are more here for it and giving it a good honest try, portaging through the quagmire toward the oft-fabled and loosely-promised full-time romance.

Back to the Basics

Quarantine has stirred up a flurry of conflicting emotions within us: independence, self-dedication, loneliness, misdirection, optimism, boredom, renewal, and impatience to name a few. Now, throw in the pressure to keep some sense of a normal dating life and you’ve got one hot mess of uncertainty.

Something that has given me hope were some letters I found while cleaning my apartment. If there was a soundtrack for that moment, the song playing would’ve definitely been Brandy’s “Sittin’ Up In My Room.”

I sat cross-legged on the floor reading them one by one, recalling all of the dumb arguments, hasty breakups, and insane amounts of energy spent on the hunt for love. Crying, laughing, always trying to prove a point: My gosh, what a rollercoaster. But what was undeniable is that I recalled what it was like to feel and that suddenly put a smile on my face. Amid all the mindless swiping and social media desensitization, the crinkly paper and messy, angled boy handwriting was nice for a change.

30-Day Trial or 90-Day Fiance?

For many skeptics (like you and I probably), there’s no better time than now to give it a shot. Case and point, my girl Vee is in her mid-30s, is recently divorced, and lives in Chicago with her son. She was initially completely uninterested in the virtual dating game. But then… Quarantine.

Rather than be blasé, she took a very intentional approach instead. “I decided to download Hinge and pay for the premium service—but only for one month.” So the 30-day countdown began and Vee spent time engaging with a few guys, and swiping past the rest. On Day 27(!) she met the man who has now become her very, serious boyfriend. Sweet success!

“I had very low expectations, and we both were super honest about our dating intentions from the start. Bullshit attracts bullshit and that’s something neither of us had time for,” she explained. Vee and her man are now a few months in and still going strong with one family vacation under their belts. Of course, “love in 27 days” won’t happen every time, but commit to a reasonable length of time to explore and chat with people before giving up.

Game, Swipe, Match

While the apps aren’t going anywhere, neither are we (for at least a few more months it seems) so keep working out that thumb and staying optimistic, you never know where it’ll go! Still, approach the digital dating world with equal parts caution and an open mind. Try starting conversations with questions you’d ask if you were meeting the person on the street or in a bar. Look for similar interests, personal connections, and unique traits. Don’t be afraid to move convos from the app to text—or even to FaceTime quicker than you might normally to keep things moving and help determine the level of connection before you’ve invested too much time. 

So throw on that Al Green or ‘90s R&B and let’s get that old thing back, even if we’re living in a new age.︎