FAMILY & PARENTING

This Is What It’s Like For A Single Mom Who Is Attempting To Date During A Global Health Crisis

by Sarah Bregel
Sarah Bregel is an editor at LittleThings.com covering entertainment, trending stories, adorable stuff, parenting, and more. She is also a freelance writer, mom of two, dog mom, feminist, and deep-breather.

When The Virus That Shall Not Be Named hit the US back in March, everything shut down. That included my single mama dating life.

You’d think everyone’s dating life would’ve stopped, but that’s hardly been the case. Dating is still a very real thing.

Take a scroll through just about any old dating app (you can borrow my phone, I have them all) and you’ll quickly notice that people seem to be meeting up as if there’s nothing going on, and they have been since pretty much the start of the health crisis. When it comes to people going on dates, the locations may have changed a bit, but honestly, many people, even those who were practicing social distancing in other areas of their lives, bent the rules when it came to dating.

They didn’t even slow down.

Is it irresponsible? Totally. But the need for human connection is real. Loneliness gets rough. And people have to make their own calculated risks. Still, to me, it became a huge point of annoyance when trying to chat with possible suitors! Men kept asking me to meet up, completely ignoring the fact that there was a real, live global health crisis happening.

Don’t get me wrong — I don’t want a pen pal. I usually like to meet up rather quickly. To me, there’s no point in talking for months on end and waiting forever to meet face-to-face. It feels like a waste of time. If I think I might like someone, I’m glad to be the one who brings up meeting first — I have done so often. But right now, things are obviously pretty different. And not acknowledging the state of the world feels like a massive turn-off.

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There was one guy who I spent a few weeks talking to early on. My state had just been locked down, but he kept inviting me over. I’m not gonna lie — I thought about it. I hadn’t been on a date in months already, even before the virus hit. I was getting bored and lonely. On the nights my kids left to go with their dad, I’d laze around and feel sorry for myself. I was sick of everything and, at times, feeling pretty low.

Still, there were just too many risk factors. For one, he had three roommates. More importantly, he didn’t seem to understand how the virus worked in the first place. “I really don’t think you or I have it,” he kept pressing. I was too dumbfounded to bother asking him how in the world he could possibly know if I, someone he had never met, was or wasn’t carrying an invisible virus.

Finally, after talking for about a month, I agreed to meet him. Don’t shame me too quickly — I ended up backing out. It just didn’t feel right, even though I’d been home for months, with my kids as my entire social life. Immediately, he had a major personality shift. He was angry that I’d made plans with him only to cancel them. It was actually a great way to see his true colors and save myself time and energy!

It sounds like just one bad experience, but actually, it wasn’t. I talked to different guys, and it was pretty much the same. People were irritated that I didn’t want to meet up. Even men I thought were reasonable, or men who had kids, didn’t seem to be worried. I was ready to completely stop making efforts to chat with people at all. I took a break for about two months.

Finally, restrictions started lifting in my state. I was still pretty much keeping to myself, but taking a few calculated risks, like letting my daughter do a ballet camp where social distancing was being practiced. I was also seeing family from time to time. My social life was still pretty understimulating, minus paying a few friends some backyard visits. I decided to get back on the apps.

I started talking to a man, and pretty quickly we made plans to meet. Again, I canceled them. Even though restrictions were lifting, I was worried about the chance that I’d get sick or get someone in my family sick. I almost completely expected the new guy to have a temper tantrum, just like the others had done. To my shock, after I’d had so many bad experiences with toddler-esque men, he was totally cool. “It’s completely understandable,” he told me.

Ten points right there. I wouldn’t be ready to hang out in person for a few more weeks, but I knew that I was definitely going to prioritize meeting the only guy who hadn’t acted like a total jerk the second a minor inconvenience came up. His patience was totally a turn-on.

Now we’ve gone on a few dates and started getting to know one another. So far, so good. While it’s definitely been tough to be home alone for all these months, I’m honestly really glad that I didn’t waste time talking to the guys who were being pushy, irresponsible, or utterly arrogant. Even if I had been ready to step out, those guys would’ve disappointed me in the long run. That’s for sure.

Waiting months and months to go on a date was a lesson in patience, for sure. Especially because I am not the most patient person. But now I’m glad I stuck to it for so many reasons. Mainly, because it ended up weeding out a lot of mediocre guys I didn’t need to meet in the first place.

It’s embarrassing to say, but practicing patience when it comes to dating is probably a lesson I was only going to learn in a crazy situation like this.