By Emmy Serviss / Boston
Last year for Valentine's Day, I bought two tickets for an at-home Paint Nite for me and my ex. Supplies weren’t included in the price, so I also placed an order at Michael’s for canvases, paints and brushes. We sat together on his couch and painted our complimentary nightscapes, the centerpiece being a giant heart constellation that stretched across both canvases. The paintings came out surprisingly well and I was so relieved that after a year of quarantining together, we had managed to keep the romance alive.
Less than a month later, we were broken up and I had moved back home. If this were a TV sitcom, this is where the narrator would chime in with a very dry voice-over saying, “She did not keep the romance alive.”
I spent March contemplating my life and wondering how I had failed at yet another relationship. Then in April, I beat myself up for not realizing sooner that my ex was clearly not emotionally available and I had been in denial.
Finally, in May I decided that even though breakups are never fun, it was the right thing for us and I was ready to move on. After trying to get back on the horse a little too soon over the summer, I declared that I was going to take the rest of 2021 and focus on MYSELF.
And now here we are, in 2022.
If anyone has an idea of how one is supposed to date in these unprecedented times, then I would love to hear it. I hated dating apps before, but now the thought of downloading Tinder again makes me break out in a cold sweat. So I did what any sensible, strong, independent woman in her (very) late 30s would do.
I reactivated my OK Cupid account.
I already regret it.
While it can be kind of fun to aimlessly scroll through profiles of single men in a 25-mile radius as though I were browsing through clothes at T.J. Maxx, it can also be mind-numbingly frustrating to read the same inane messages over and over again.
“hey what r u doin right now”
“oh you do comedy that’s cool, I’ve seen SNL”
“haha bet it would be funny if my name was Oscar or Tony”
But even MORE frustrating is the ever popular “hello,” followed by a classic ghosting.
So why do I keep going back to online dating? That is an excellent question and I wish I had an answer. Mostly because in the 21st century, there doesn’t seem to be an alternative. It feels like my parents’ generation had an easier time meeting people and settling down with a white picket fence and 2.5 kids. They also had an easier time with college loans, buying a home and making a living wage, but that’s a different article.
I imagine that the absence of the Internet and technology made it easier for the Boomers to find real connections. To meet new people, you had to actually venture outside of your apartment and…meet new people. Nowadays, with 50% of the world’s population* plugged into some sort of social app, it’s easy to make up an excuse to stay home binging Squid Games and just keep swiping away.
*This number was pulled from thin air and is not based on any actual science, so please don’t quote me.
If we were still living in a “normal” society, I could go out to a bar and try to pick someone up. Or ask a friend to set me up on a blind date. Or try speed dating again.
(All of these options sound terrible, by the way.)
But now that we’re living in a Covid world, all those options carry far more of a risk than I’m willing to take. So back to the apps I go. It hasn’t been too bad so far. I’m having a nice conversation about The Twilight Zone with a real-estate broker from Concord, and no one has asked me if I like to [insert inappropriate act here] on a first date.
With Valentine’s Day coming up, it’s hard not to feel a little lonely.
I don’t miss my ex, but I miss the intimacy. I miss having a person to snuggle up to on a cold night, or to give the rest of my dinner when I’m full. I miss having a hand to hold in a movie theater or to play with their hair as we fall asleep. I miss the butterflies in my stomach when a relationship is still blossoming, and I miss the quiet contentment when I look over at someone and smile to myself, because not only are they my person, but I’m also theirs.
I’d like to believe I’ll find my person for real this time. Maybe I’m about to swipe right on him on OK Cupid. Maybe he’s someone I already know. Or maybe I missed my chance and our paths will never cross.
The only thing I know for sure, is that I’d like to finally get off these damn apps.
But because I’m a hopeless romantic, I’ll keep hope alive.
And for now, I’ll keep swiping.
Emmy Serviss is a Boston-based writer, actor and video editor. Once it is safe to return to live theater, you can find her performing with ComedySportz Boston and the sketch group SUZZY. When not on the stage, Emmy enjoys indulging in her new pandemic hobbies, laughing way too loudly and counting the days until Halloween.