Izzy Stanish, 29, had broken up with her long-term girlfriend just a few weeks before coronavirus put the city on PAUSE.
Shortly after, she left her apartment in Crown Heights to quarantine back in her childhood home outside Philadelphia. Here, she’s newly single and back on the dating apps… but this time, for friendship.
“I get a kick out of talking to anyone,” said Stanish. “When I was younger on AIM, I would talk to Smarter Child [the chatbot] because I love to – especially if it’s just texting – to just be witty and go back and forth.”
Stanish, who works as a creative strategist at a digital advertising company, is a charismatic chatterbox who doesn’t take herself too seriously. To pass the time while social distancing, she’s re-downloaded the popular dating app Hinge and Lex, a social app for lesbian, queer, transgender and non-binary people.
It’s a move many single New Yorkers are making these days, considering the option of meeting people IRL is practically non-existent; one app, Bumble, saw a 23 percent increase in messages sent in New York between March 12-22. Other platforms, like Match and The League, are encouraging ambitious singles to date virtually, by either using in-app video features or via live speed-dating events.
But while other users might be looking for love, Stanish is entertaining herself with a rotation of platonic connections. Since quarantine started, she’s been consistently talking with “five or six different people” – all of whom had originated as romantic interests but have evolved into digital companions.
Now, one woman from Hinge regularly checks in with Stanish and sends her synopses of books she might enjoy. (The two first bonded over “The Giver” by Lois Lowry.)
A conversation with another woman on Lex about the Australian prison television series “Wentworth” has blossomed into “fully a friendship,” complete with more prison-centric Netflix recommendations.
“This one person is like a professor or teacher of UX, and I don’t know if I find her cute, but she’s so great to talk to,” she said. “I’m just using dating apps during corona to network.”
Stanish isn’t sure if she’d even want to seriously pursue something serious in quarantine anyway. Dating is tough even when social distancing guidelines aren’t in effect – this new reality of Zoom happy hours and excessive swiping only compounds romantic challenges.
“In New York, it just gets played out, especially with queer folks. It’s either people looking for a unicorn, which is the most annoying, or the women are just like ‘let’s see what this is,’ or they’re people you know,” she joked. “I’ve matched with all of my friends before.”
For now, she’s happy with her virtual bubble of new acquaintances.
And who knows – maybe, when the pandemic subsides and drinks can be drank in-person instead of on-screen, something romantic will spark from these cordial connections.
“I hope eventually when this lifts, and I can see people, that’s when I’ll be like ‘Hey, what’s up,’” she said. “To be like ‘I kind of know you well enough to meet for a drink or whatever.’ That’s where I’m trying to keep it right now.”