‘I restarted my profile and started swiping. He was nice, funny, and so easy to talk to. ‘Okay, I guess I can try dating you.’: Divorcee talks online dating in the pandemic, ‘Coincidence? Fate? Who knows?’

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“Dating during a pandemic was not something I really thought I would ever do. After my divorce, I dated off and on for a couple of years. Nothing serious – I want to get married again one day but wasn’t fully ready to jump back into having a real relationship. Just having fun and putting myself out there to meet new people, but also learn about myself post-divorce. Friends had told me how much luck they had with dating apps and honestly, being single again, I felt like I did not even know how to date. I had not been single in over 7 years and the dating games had changed.

Courtesy of Lee Anne Alsup

I had deleted the apps from my phone and was basically going to date myself for a while. I remember saying to myself and to my very close friends, I was too good for it and the guys on there were clowns. Then the pandemic hit, and I thought I was done for. After a girl’s night, this was in the early stages and we didn’t realize we should have socially distanced ourselves… my girlfriend was going on and on about some guy she had met on an app. I thought, ‘Ok, I will give it one more try.’ After the girl’s left, I restarted my profile and started swiping. I matched with a couple guys and literally copied and pasted the same message to begin the conversation: ‘Hey, how was your day?’ Super sexy, right?

Courtesy of Lee Anne Alsup

Over the next few days, I carried on with a couple of conversations and weeded out the duds. This one guy had stood out. We connected and he was so easy to talk to. We had a lot of things in common. He was not creepy or saying anything inappropriate. He made me feel comfortable without being pushy. This went on for about two weeks when eventually he asked for us to meet. My stomach dropped… I was just getting used to talking to someone, now I have to meet them! By then Covid was in full swing, but he had already planned we would get coffee and go for a walk in the park. He said, ‘How about we meet at 10:00?’ I remember asking him, ‘Oh, like a day date?’ This was getting serious – I had to put on my big girl pants, fast. I forgot to mention, he lived a block away from me, so this was very convenient and not easy for me to get out of. I said I would suck it up and meet him.

Our first date was 5 hours long and I even changed outfits in the middle. I have been on plenty of first dates, so I was not really nervous. But during a pandemic, do you hug, do you wear a mask – I didn’t know. I’m not a hugger anyways, so that wasn’t happening and I didn’t really want to wear a mask. We clicked immediately, just like we had via messages. We got coffee, well he had matcha. He does not drink coffee, yet still suggested it as our first meeting.  We walked over two miles through the neighborhood and through the park. We sat on a bench for a break, but our conversation was so easy and meaningful. We talked about our goals, people running in the park, work, our families, etc.

Courtesy of Lee Anne Alsup

Once we had done the entire loop, we decided we were hungry so he walked me back home so I could change clothes, but I wouldn’t let him inside. We went to a local taco place and this is where I found out he had the antibodies for covid, so that instantly made me feel better. He works for the peace corps and had been stationed in Africa for the past few years, when Covid hit he was evacuated and believed he contracted the virus when he flew home. He quarantined in a hotel for about a month. He is from Louisville, so when they asked where he wanted to be evacuated to he said he wanted to go back home – to an Airbnb a block away from where I live. Coincidence? Fate? Who knows?

After lunch, we decided we wanted more margaritas, so walked another mile or so to another taco restaurant. We joked about starting a blog, where we would review all the margaritas in town. The date ended and I could not stop smiling. I had connected with him in such a different way than I had anyone else. He was nice, funny, and so easy to talk to. I thought and told my friends, no wonder I hadn’t been able to meet anyone, this guy had been in Africa this whole time.

Courtesy of Lee Anne Alsup

That week we hung out again and watched the debate of the primary election in our city. Who does that on their second date??? We also went to a protest together and I met his friends. We were having real conversations and taking part in meaningful activities. This was so different than anything I was used to prior. We hung out a few more times, but remember this was during the time of the pandemic. I had been furloughed from work, and like everyone else, my life was turned upside down. I didn’t feel like myself, I couldn’t do the things I was used to doing and it felt like the world was ending around me. I told him I just wanted to be friends. I did not feel like I could handle a relationship and being a girlfriend during all this. I could tell he was upset, but he was respectful.

A week later, I was going for a run and saw him riding his bike down my street. We stopped and talked for about 30 minutes. We caught up on everything that had happened over the past week, no hard feelings. I couldn’t help but think he had purposely ridden his bike outside my house in hopes to see me. I texted him later saying how good it was to have seen him and he should come over for a drink, as friends. He came over later, we had some drinks and I noticed he had been extra flirty, more than he had before. I had also questioned why he had never tried to kiss me on any of our dates and accounted for this in my decision that we were better as friends. We continued to hang out and since we were just friends, I was telling him I was confused on why he had never tried to kiss me, well he took my questioning as an invitation. We kissed, it was great and from then on, I said, ‘Okay, I guess I can try dating you.’

Courtesy of Lee Anne Alsup

Being evacuated from his normal life in Africa, but in a time of a pandemic with high risk parents, he was still staying in an Airbnb, one block away from where I lived. We hung out basically every day, spent the night at each other’s houses, cooked together, and even worked together from home on days the internet went out. I was having a hard time living alone during a pandemic and had decided we were basically quarantining together. We have learned a lot about each other without being able to really go on dates.

Courtesy of Lee Anne Alsup

We played games, cooked, took walks, worked, and just sat outside in the sun and drank together. We dropped off our absentee ballots and stayed up late waiting for the election results, we got flu shots together, and even went on a vacation together. But we have never met each other’s family members. We send each other memes and gifs, but don’t follow each other on social media. He doesn’t even have an Instagram account. He has gone through two major surgeries while we have dated, but he has never seen me cry. We have never been to a movie theater together, a typical date spot. We have made each other playlists on Spotify and played countless games of Uno, we even created our own card game called Slap War. We have bought each other gifts for no reason. We have gotten drunk together, but never really fought.

Courtesy of Lee Anne Alsup
Courtesy of Lee Anne Alsup

It’s been about 6 months since we have started dating and the pandemic hasn’t really affected us much, because we really don’t know any different. We never knew each other prior and he is leaving to go back to Africa in a month. I have no idea how it will go. He will be gone during all the major holidays, and this scares the s–t out of me. I don’t like being alone on regular days, how will I do it now? I have gotten so used to spending so much time with him and seeing him everyday, to him being on an entirely different continent. I feel like Covid made us get to know each other better and faster and I wonder if we would have even met had the pandemic not happened. Would he have even been in Kentucky to show up on my dating app?

We have mentioned before how crazy it is we started dating during this time. I know he has helped me get through this time and I hope I have helped him. He is always very sweet and caring, planning things he knows I like. He is always checking in to make sure I am happy and I am okay.

My dating advice: put yourself out there but be safe!”

Courtesy of Lee Anne Alsup

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Lee Anne Alsup of Louisville, KY. You can follow her journey on Instagram and FacebookSubmit your story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

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