Why It’s The Worst Time Ever to Online Date

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I hit a year sober in December, and one of my goals for this spring was to put myself out there again in the dating world.

One of the ways I was going to do that was online. But then COVID came.

That goal went out the window along with my plan for a bikini body for summer. I hadn’t dated in a really long time, because you aren’t supposed to in your first year, and I was in my first year for eleven years. I figured nobody in sobriety would bother online dating during this time.

A few weeks ago I gave a psychic reading to someone in early sobriety who had agreed to watch my kitten while I was out of town for a few days. During the reading, it came up that she needed to spend some time focusing on herself.

“It’s true,” she confessed. “I have gone from a toxic relationship to toxic relationships my entire life. Now is the perfect time to get to know myself, and I know if I don’t I will continue to repeat the pattern.”

The next week, the day before I left town, she texted me, “Hey so I am going to be in Long Beach all day with a friend but I will still sleep at your place.” She then revealed that he was not really a friend, but a man she had met the day before while swiping on Tinder. Cats are pretty independent, but my cat is a kitten that I got during quarantine that’s never been alone for more than a few hours. Which she knew. Forget about the fact that she had just made a vow to herself to stop online dating temporarily.

I found another cat sitter, knowing that I can’t trust someone who can’t keep their commitments to themselves, but kept thinking about that guy she went to meet. Did he know that he was breaking quarantine for someone who had only ever been in an unbroken string of toxic relationships, that would shirk a two-day commitment to breaking quarantine for him just a few days after admitting they needed to work on themselves so they wouldn’t repeat their maladaptive pattern?

Online dating is like digging through a clearance bin in the best of times, but now? It’s worse than ever. Here are five reasons to hit the pause button on your quest for love.

  1. Safety Risks

We know the obvious risk of getting, giving, or spreading COVID. You might tell yourself that you’re just going to date virtually, but if you do form a connection, simple biology will make it difficult to stick to your boundaries. Once the oxytocin starts flowing and blood flow increases to your nether regions you may not be able to hold yourself to the safety standard you originally set out with.  And sure, maybe you’ve been careful but you don’t know where this other person has been. It is so easy to lie to strangers. It is so hard to tell when a stranger is lying, especially when you cannot read their body language. And just because you may be young and healthy doesn’t mean you can’t spread it to someone who isn’t.

  1. Desperation Seeks Desperately

Consider that people willing to take these risks have other factors driving that behavior. They can’t sit with themselves. They can’t be alone. They do not like themself. They are seeking romance as a method of coping. The healthiest reason to look for love is that your life is perfect other than having someone to share it with. Nobody’s life is going great right now. As soon as we adjust to societal upheaval, a new one breaks on the horizon.  

  1. A Straight Up Waste Of Time

Say that you do keep the boundaries and only date virtually. Do you really think that you will meet this person or people once the world is safe again? Studies show that once a certain number of messages have been sent online the probability that you will ever meet in person goes down to nearly nothing. If you need someone to chat with, I get it, but I bet you already have people in your life with whom you could become closer. I have spent more time talking with my sisters during quarantine than in the past five years combined, and now we are closer than ever. I’ve deepened my relationships with colleagues I always thought were cool but never had time to connect with. Consider spending that energy on people that already matter to you.

  1. You’d Be Depriving Yourself Of The Gifts Of This Moment

As Lisa Bonos wrote in this Washington Post article, “A life where you’re thriving while solo will serve you well once life speeds up again.” The gifts of this moment are to spend time falling in love with yourself, learning to comfort yourself, entertain yourself, deepen your relationship to all the parts of yourself, look in the shadows of your soul, and grow. We are in a collective dark night of the soul, and those who use this opportunity can transform themselves forever, and come out on the other side a person that can attract the kind of relationship they have always dreamt of, because of who they have become.

  1. Rejection Leads To Relapse

As I stated in the introduction, it’s common advice not to date in the first year of sobriety. And as I have previously written, we are all in a similar emotional space to early sobriety right now.  Besides the need to focus on oneself, romantic rejection often leads to relapse in a normal world. In an isolated world where the hits keep coming and everything is more uncertain than it has ever been that probability skyrockets. Getting dumped sucks – but imagine getting dumped over Zoom, and not even being able to get a hug from a friend to comfort you? People are getting dumped via Zoom so often right now there’s even a term for it – Zumped. How are you gonna stay sober during quarantine during a time with no leadership during a financial crisis during a new civil rights movement sparked by police brutality during a new me too movement with a focus on pedophilia after getting ZUMPED? And even if you can, why put yourself in that position. It’s not worth it.

There will be life and love after COVID. It’s worth waiting for. For now, the best thing to do is focus on falling in love with yourself.

Rebecca Rush is an LA based, NY bred comedian and writer. She hosts a podcast called Comic’s Book Club and a monthly themed show called Vulnerability at El Cid Sunset the first Tuesday of the month at 8 pm. She has been featured on Viceland and Funny or Die. Notable podcast appearances include YKWD, Race Wars, The Dork Forest, PepTalks, and Cumia. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications including Fodor’s Travel, Miami New Times, The Dyrt, and The Fix, The Temper, and Workit Health. She is currently finishing a memoir in essays. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter.

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