Month Five+, August 2020

The unfamiliar – but welcome – sound of a dozen cars honking their horns while idling in the “rush hour” traffic to get into the Lincoln Tunnel marked a realization for me that things are starting to get back to normal in NYC. It is the sound of life itself, of the blood starting to pump back into NYC’s veins, and it is beautiful. I, like most of my fellow New Yorkers, need a sense of normalcy more than anything right now.

I’ve been to hell and back the past three months. I lost my sister to a drug overdose and, coupled with the stress of physically going into the office every day, I’ve tried to mask feelings that were too heavy to manage by going on multiple first dates. Though I filled my time with dating and vodka without outwardly falling apart, I wasn’t taking care of my soul and truly allowing myself to feel all of the feels of what was happening in my life.

So I went on a brief dating hiatus that lasted a whole TWO WEEKS. I thought I’d use the time to reflect, meditate, and all that holistic stuff, but it lasted about as long as the relationships on 90-Day Fiancé. I swear, I really did try. But I needed to get right back on that horse again. I needed something or someone to look forward to. You really never know when or how you will meet someone, so I feel it’s important to keep putting myself out there, no matter what.

“If I’m asked one more time how I’m holding up, I think I’ll go crazy.”

The current pandemic dating protocol goes like this: first, we meet via Zoom or FaceTime. If the date goes well, I’ll ask the person on the other side of the screen if they’ve had a COVID-19 test (I’m up to 12 tests myself – it comes with my job), an antibody test, been in large groups lately, etc. When we get through the checklist, we’ll agree to meet at a mutually social-distanced spot.

Back in March, when NYC was first locked down, virtual dating was a novelty. It took a month to really get the hang of it. However, as month three of the pandemic rolled into month four, then month five, virtual dating has started to lose its novelty and excitement. I miss the face-to-face interaction that traditional dating provides. Plus, virtual dating has its own ups and downs.

The ups include:

Less pressure.

My dates and I can really be ourselves from the comfort and safety of our own living rooms.

There is a common thread from the start, so conversation opening questions always include some version of: “How are you holding up during lockdown?”

I’m so sick of these questions now, if I’m asked one more time how I’m holding up, I think I’ll go crazy.

Six months in, it feels more like pre-pandemic dating. Fewer prospects want to go on more than one virtual date before meeting. And I get it. We’re all horny! But an increasing number of prospects just get straight the point and ask to meet for a drink without even a phone call. Sorry, buddy, but that’s not happening over here. Safety first.

I was hopeful that the pandemic would change dating for the better – that people would genuinely want to build meaningful connections and not jump around from person to person. But now the city is starting to open up again, many of us are reverting back to our old, selfish selves.

Virtual ghosting is a real thing! And it started when outdoor bar/restaurant seating opened up. For example, after numerous text conversations, then a quick chat on the phone, a prospect would disappear as soon as I tried to confirm our virtual date. Or, after a kickass v-date that lasted for hours, I agreed to meet the guy for an IRL date in a park the following weekend. But, by the time the weekend arrived, I was given some BS excuse about how he had to spend the day with his friend and his friend’s son, but would love to get together the following weekend. Then poof! He ghosted me.

As for Greenpoint Tom (remember him?), he did finally receive the handmade mask I braved the post office twice to mail him. We met for a socially distanced date in a park, spent the day together, made promises of seeing one another again, sent each other lots of texts about how much fun we’d had … then poof! He ghosted me too. Some things will never change. But the past several months have taught me (and I know we say this all the time but it’s true) life is too fucking short!

“My dog doesn’t talk back and he’s always happy to see me regardless of my outfit. Also, he doesn’t bring condoms to dinner.”

I’ve always known this, but am reminded even more how precious life is. There are way more important things to get worked up over than dreams of what might have been. If you drive yourself mad by self-doubt, dissecting every text message, always trying to figure out what happened and replaying that first and only date in your mind, you’ll miss out on the most important things right in front of you: your health, your true friends, the roof over your head, and, in my case, your fur babies. My dog doesn’t talk back and he’s always happy to see me regardless of my outfit. Also, he doesn’t bring condoms to dinner or care how my morning breath smells.

And, while you’re over-thinking, you could miss the next prospect. So when things fizzle out for unexplained reasons, it could be a blessing in disguise.

Life is about being present. Like listening to the sound of those honking car horns and appreciating how blessed I am to be able to write about my experiences and share them with you.

My final words: take a step back and take care of you, always trust your instincts, and be prepared for bumps in the road. You can’t love someone if you aren’t whole yourself.


Mary Geneva is a healthcare professional by day and hopeful romantic by night, looking for the avocado to her toast. She lives, works, and plays in New York City, and calls Hell’s Kitchen home. She shares her studio with her rescued pets, pup Valentino and Kitty Diva. Her blog, That’s So Mary, is a compilation of true-life stories that includes dating, travel, scuba diving, and lots of pictures of Valentino. She says: “I can’t make this shit up so I might as well share it. But until the right guy comes along, I’ll continue to grow, learn, travel, create, and mold my life into the best it can be.” Follow Mary’s adventures at @marygenevanyc.

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