Social distance dating isn’t as bad as it sounds

Kathleen Poliski never thought she’d have a first date with someone she never met. But has social distancing changed the rules to dating?

Kathleen Poliski (Courtesy of Kathleen Poliski)

Kathleen Poliski (Courtesy of Kathleen Poliski)

A Russian and American walk into a … Facetime chat?

It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but it’s what happened recently in my childhood bedroom.

Amid this pandemic, I found myself fleeing Philadelphia and social distancing at my parent’s house in South Jersey, more specifically, on my parents’ couch. I never thought I, with an established career, would be temporarily moving back in with my parents at 28. But, alas, here we are.

Soon, I found myself with a direct message on Instagram from a Russian guy who I had matched with on Bumble, an online dating app, weeks ago, but had never spoken to. For those who are unfamiliar with the online dating world, sometimes you match with someone, and it goes nowhere. That’s what initially happened with said Russian, before he decided to slide into my DMs.

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We probably matched after I went on yet another terrible date and was exhausted by the process. It’s a vicious cycle (another article for another time).

He replied to my Instagram story about watching the movie Pandemic during a pandemic. Finding myself alone, and severely single with no prospects in sight, I responded. That response eventually led to several text messages over the next two weeks of social distancing, which led to this message: “We should have a call sometime.”

Let me be clear: if you would’ve asked me if I would ever video chat with someone I had never met as a “first date,” I would’ve laughed.

Before this pandemic, my dating life followed a “no-nonsense” approach. I was getting to the point where, if I didn’t meet a person I matched with during the first week of messaging them, they were off my roster of potentials. Time is the most valuable thing you can give someone, and I don’t like wasting any of mine. Ironically enough, these days I have a significant amount of it.

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I agreed to have a call. My argument being: what else was I going to do? And again, it’s not like I had any other prospects. I was starting to get crushes on my favorite news reporters. At the very least, I needed human interaction with someone other than my parents.

So, unbeknownst to my new roommates (my parents), I found myself on FaceTime with a Russian man living in the suburbs of Philly, whom I had never met in real life, while enjoying a “virtual” oat milk cappuccino he made me. He even went as far as going out to buy oat milk because I’m plant-based. Chivalry is not dead, ladies and gentlemen, EVEN during a pandemic.

Screenshot of Kathleen’s virtual date, featuring an oat milk cappuccino. Courtesy of Kathleen Poliski)

To my surprise, the date went wonderful. Before I knew it, two hours had gone by. It probably would have continued, if I didn’t have a yoga session booked in with my parents.

The date (if you can even call it that?) ended with him asking when we could have our next call. He suggested watching a movie together. I said yes, of course. Since our first “date,” we’ve continued to chat each day, and have had multiple movie-watching and video calls.

I’ve always been one against long-distance relationships, but this feels different. We technically live close by, but just can’t see each other… yet. So, if we survive this, who knows what might happen?

Before you get too concerned about my mental well-being, believe me, I am fully aware of how ridiculous this situation is. Am I worried about falling for a guy I’ve never met in person, only to be disappointed by the lack of chemistry when we finally meet IRL? Absolutely!

The truth is, I won’t truly know how I feel about this person until we meet face-to-face (not through an app), but in the meantime, I’m enjoying getting to know someone who I probably would have never connected with if it weren’t for coronavirus outbreak and the ensuing stay-at-home order.

If I’ve learned anything from dating at a distance, it’s that effort is one of the most attractive things you can give someone. I’ve had guys I’ve really liked in the past, but none of them have given me this much effort. They weren’t matching my energy, even if I was right next to them, and this guy is matching my energy from several miles away.

While COVID-19 is wreaking absolute havoc in our world, I can’t help but wonder what other pockets of magic are simultaneously happening. If it can bring together a Russian and an American during a time of complete uncertainty, then who knows?

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