For the Healthyish Guide to Being Alone, we asked chef and cookbook author Alison Roman to document her dating life, which has gone fully digital since the lockdown.

Seven weeks from now, I will have finished a book proposal, decluttered my entire apartment, sent hand-written letters to my friends and family, become the most hydrated woman in New York, met all my deadlines, become a morning person, finally discovered a tricep muscle (on my own arm) and absolutely had phone sex at least once –Me to myself, when quarantine began

It is now seven weeks later, and I’m pleased to report that some of these plans have worked. My apartment has never looked better, my skin is so hydrated I finally know what “glowing from within” means, and I even enjoy running, a thing I would have tacked slightly above “going to brunch” in a list of things I would enjoy doing. My friendships and family connections are stronger thanks to daily check-ins, and I am busier than ever now that everyone, literally, is cooking at home. Aside from the low-grade anxiety and general ennui, I guess you could say I am flourishing! But my dating life has, um, how do you say: not flourished. In all fairness, this was absolutely true of my pre-quarantine life too, but I save that stuff for my therapist every Wednesday at 10 a.m.

But…I did try. When quarantine began, I decided I wanted to be bolder, to be more forward about my desire for personal connections and romance-y things and, yes, to have phone sex, a thing I had not ever done before (I know, I know). The whole world felt new and different, which made me feel like I could be, too.

I reached out to the single women I know (there are two of them), asking how they were maintaining their robust dating lives under the new rules of life. They all enthusiastically echoed one another: “So. Much. Swiping.” There was sexting, there were Zoom dates, an onslaught of tasteful and not-as-tasteful nudes peppered with a few choice horny video messages. We were in a golden age of online dating! To hear I wasn’t taking advantage, well, they weren’t mad, just disappointed.

In the “before”, I would have said the digital version of courtship was not for me. I prefer to meet people the old fashioned way, on a subway platform where we look up and discover we are reading the same New Yorker article and share a small smile, then one of us gets off before we can exchange numbers and then spend the rest of the movie trying to find each other until we realize we are neighbors and it was you all along!

But we were living in a brave new world now, one without the option of human to human contact. And I couldn’t help but wonder: Was I going to be a brave new girl in this brave new world?

So I decided to go on “the apps” with a positive attitude and an open mind. I would be vulnerable and confident. I would message first. I would not open with a quarantine joke. I would try (genuinely try!) to meet people, casually date, maybe even build actual intimacy. I would possibly send a nude.

I downloaded the two that felt the least scary: Raya and Hinge. I followed the standard journey of downloading, deleting, and re-downloading. I swiped while I was falling asleep and when I was waking up like it was Instagram, swapping one scrolling addiction for another. I matched and then unmatched. Generally unimpressed with the selection and busier than I thought I’d be with work (it’s called distraction as a way to avoid intimacy, i.e., a defense mechanism! See, therapy does work), I wouldn’t exactly say I was having the golden age experience I was sold.

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