We Dated Virtually for Months During the Pandemic — Then We Met Up
In December 2020, I wrote about dating over FaceTime. My two month experience took me on a wild ride, to say the least. I met some memorable characters: the guy who became a painter during the pandemic, the guy who spoiled the ending of Lost for me, the guy who told me not one but four different stories about his trips to strip clubs. There were some, ahem, interesting people out there.
And then I met Nathan.
Nathan had a profile that was hard to pass up. He enjoyed Disney movies, cooking, hockey, and board games. He had a sweet face, with blue-green eyes and lovely blonde hair. I matched with him and we started chatting. Oddly enough, even though we met online, he only lived 25 minutes away in Chicago.
Our first video call took place around Halloween in 2020. Neither of us wanted to meet in-person because of the pandemic, so we were satisfied with conducting our first meeting from the comfort of homes. We talked about our pandemic-adjusted lives, how I was still working in-person, and how Nathan spent months down in Florida thanks to remote work.
In November, Nathan was headed down to see his family in another state for Thanksgiving and planned to stay through Christmas as well. I had asked when he was leaving, and he responded that “it all depends.”
“On what?” I asked.
“On you. If you want to meet in person this week.”
In any other context, I would have been ready to meet. However, the COVID rate was climbing and I was living with my family. As much as I wanted to meet Nathan in-person, I didn’t want to risk infecting my parents. So I told him, “I’m sorry, I just don’t think it’s the safest time. There isn’t a cure yet. I live with someone who is easily affected by COVID. I wouldn’t feel right if I brought it home.”
I was quiet, expecting the whines and moans to start, to hear how I was such a selfish bitch for passing up a date when “COVID probably isn’t real,” i.e. responses I had received from previous dates. To my pleasant surprise, Nathan agreed that it wasn’t the best time: “I wanted to offer, but I think you’re right. And I’d rather we meet when things are safer so you’re more comfortable.”
I was blown away by his nonchalant reaction. He didn’t guilt me for wanting to keep my family safe. He didn’t criticize or whine until I felt pressured to give in. There were no ulterior motives for his kindness. I wasn't used to his behavior and it made me want to get to know him even more.
By December, Nathan and I were having multiple video calls a week, states apart. We were finding new ways to have fun each time: he ordered sushi for me from my favorite restaurant, and I bought him a black bean bowl from his. We watched movies, met each others’ families, and continued to date, all through a screen. I would marvel at whatever Nathan was cooking for dinner that night, and he would laugh at how my family members would show up on the call (invited or not).
The first meeting
In January 2021, Nathan and I agreed to meet in person for the first time. I had no comparable experience for this kind of date. For some people, "taking it to the next level" means some promise of commitment or sex. For Nathan and I, who hadn’t even put a label on what we were, the next level involved me taking the train down to Chicago and spending the weekend at his place.
I won’t lie, I felt apprehensive about our meeting. Even though I spent months getting to know Nathan and had fallen for him, I wasn’t sure what meeting in-person would do to us. What if we no longer felt comfortable around each other?
That was not the case. Nathan picked me up at Union Station and we walked back to his place. We cooked together, drank coffee, visited an art gallery, and walked along Michigan Avenue while it lightly snowed. That one weekend set off a routine for us, as I began spending several weekends downtown with him and he would come to suburbia to visit me.
Our unique story
Nathan and I have always agreed that we like the way we met and we wouldn’t change a thing. Sure, we could have met in person earlier and skipped the video calls entirely, but that would have altered the course of how we connected.
Not to sound like a Hallmark movie heroine, but that was part of the magic of starting our relationship.
Some of my friends and family have asked me if I was worried that Nathan and I wouldn’t get along in-person after months of video calls. It makes me think back to Christmas Eve of 2020: I returned home from working late to find a bouquet of roses on my kitchen counter. My family informed me that they had been delivered that afternoon with a note from Nathan.
“Katie — I just couldn’t help myself in getting these for you. I’ve loved getting to know you and am really looking forward to continuing to do so! Nathan ‘From Hinge’” (That was how I had saved his contact in my phone).
I gushed over the roses, thrilled not only that Nathan had thought of me and surprised me with flowers when we had only known each other a short time, but also because I sent him a surprise Christmas present in the mail a few days before too. I didn’t know what the future would look like, but I knew then that we were compatible — no matter what medium we used.
Eight months later, we still are.
*Nathan's name has been changed.