Single Guys Are Really Going For It Right Now

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S1: This ad free podcast is part of your slate plus membership.

S2: I feel like there is something in the air because it was early days of quarantine. I also was a very nice day outside, so I’m not sure if everyone had like the spring has sprung mentality, but a lot of factors were in the air, I would say.

S3: This is Katie and like me and I’m sure most of you, her first bit of panic over this pandemic led her to the grocery store, except her story takes a different turn than most.

S4: So the first encounter I had with the pharmacy and I go say my prescription, it’s not ready yet. So I’m standing at the counter area and I do see a guy sort of like looking over towards me.

S5: And I’m not even kidding, like with no at all sort of introduction. He was like, do you come here a lot? Do you want to go out sometime?

S6: Not just like start honestly burst out laughing. This is not like my finest moment. But I start chuckling, laughing and then my name is called the like Raiford. So I’m like, I gotta go figure, I’m prescription and sort of dodged that one pretty quickly. So then I’m going to the grocery store just next door and I am in the hummus section. A very important staple in my diet. And a guy comes over to me and unlike pharmacy guy, he’s actually talking to me. And then he kind of bluntly is like, can I get your number or can I give you mine? And again, I’m just like, what is happening? So I start laughing again. And then I sadly told him that I’d be only going home with my hummus that day, so I might use the opportunity guy in West Side Market. Hummus section if you’re listening to this. I was really caught off guard, but I’m kind of into it. Reach out to man up and let’s see what we can do. Maybe.

S3: Hello and welcome to Man Up. I’m your host. Eight minutes my. And on this show, we crack questions big and small about manhood. This week, well, we can learn from men who are very much still trying to shoot their shot in the middle of a paid.

S7: So I work with Katie and she was telling me about homeless guy and pharmacy guy. She has a lot of thoughts about why she’s suddenly being hit on left and right.

S2: My theory right away, I was like, our guy is going to like grocery stores because I know they’re higher foot traffic. They’re like, it’s actually a pretty smart dating game, honestly. Like, I’m very impressed by any man who has figured out that there’s more traffic in these areas and there’s no no one that bars anymore because we have to not go to those places. Right. For social distancing purposes.

S5: I also forgot that thing I’ve been noticing is that they’re having people coming out the woodwork for me that people I haven’t seen in a long time, like not my most recent ex is, but like my middle school ex reach out to me recently. Mm hmm. Also, the strangest one of that is that some guy who lives in Australia who I met in Las Vegas, my senior year of college for fall break, just reach out to me asking how I was dealing with quarantine. How was in New York, in the states and how Australia hasn’t gotten there yet. And then he started face timing me. So now I’m like face time with an Australian man and I haven’t seen since 2012.

S8: I feel like this virus has been teaching us a lot about how we interact in what’s kind of real and what’s important and necessary and what isn’t. Is there a lesson that we should be learning?

S5: I think the answer is that I think it’s like getting to know people. I know that we live a million miles a minute. I know I personally have a million miles a minute. And it has made me like be more receptive to people that have reached out, you know, like my middle school boyfriend reached out, exploit and reached out or Australia guy reached out. Right. Like it’s welcoming. I’ve I find it personally very welcoming for me.

S9: Right on. Is there anything that you’ve learned about men in particular throughout this whole situation, especially in light of like what happened to the grocery and pharmacy?

S5: So I would say they’re bold.

S10: If the world is ending. Like, why not just go for it? So I think that’s good. That can be good until a certain point. Like, obviously, don’t shoot your shot in an area uncomfortable or worse than not, the defensive way.

S11: But I think it has emboldened men for sure. I think it’s also maybe taking people out of their comfort zone, which is nice. They don’t. They can’t necessarily hide behind. If you want someone, a person, you can’t hide behind a million shots at a bar or a million friends that sort of like, you know, bro is in circles like puffing each other up. You have to, like, go fend for yourself a little bit. So I hope grocery store guy, was it just trying to find a woman who can make him pasta or some hummus dip situation in my case.

S12: But I do think that, yes, both men are bolder a little bit, taking more risks.

S11: I hope it changes men for the better.

S13: I really, really do.

S14: I heard another story that trucks with Katie’s theory, it’s about a guy named Jeremy who posted on Instagram that he was crushing on the woman on the rooftop across from his window.

S15: I am quarantined all alone. It is just me, myself and not my roommate is in Minnesota with his family. Yes. I’m just cooped up, hunkered down, looking out my windows. I happen to see this girl dancing across on the roof, across the street. I felt this like weird energy that I just wanted to say I had it.

S14: So I just went and I said to her, and by just want to say hi to her, he means he wrote his number down on a piece of paper, taped it to a drone in FL. over to her roof.

S15: We’ve been texting and face time a couple of times and I plan to go on our date tomorrow night. So it’s gonna be gonna be fun. And we’re not. We’re also going to be social distancing while we go on our date. So yeah, we’re gonna go on a virtual date, but I don’t want to spare any details besides that cause I want to be kind of a surprise or romantic. I do have an idea. I hope it works. I hope it works. That’s all I’m saying.

S14: The fact that we’re all on lockdown and that things could very likely be getting worse doesn’t discourage him at all.

S15: I guess it would be possible that I’d be in a long distance relationship with a girl across the street from me.

S16: So what’s going on with these stories, are guys afraid to go it alone for the next month or two? Or is it something else? After the break, we’re going to hear a story about a certain dating app where men, I’ve been told, never have a problem being bold about what they want. And now that no one can meet up, they’re not quite sure what to do.

S17: I haven’t been on Grinder.

S18: I was going to say I haven’t been in in a few days, but I really go on it every day. I sort of always have it on in the background.

S19: This is Andrew Cohen and he recently wrote this piece for Slate called The Guys Are Wild on Grindr right now.

S18: There are people who download it and delete it and download and delete it or who only use it when they want to find sex that minute.

S20: These days I just sort of pop in, see if I have any messages and leave. There was a period at the beginning of the social distancing phase of all this when some people had really adopted it and some people had not.

S21: And that was the period when I sort of had some more friction with people while he isolates in his New York apartment.

S19: Andrew has been seeing the crises unfold from a unique vantage point, from the perspective of horny guys on Grinder, to be specific. He’s been having the turn down, guys looking to hook up, and he’s tired of explaining to them that they should stay home, too.

S22: There was one guy who basically told me I was making it all up and that was in my head and that I shouldn’t believe what I read in the news. And this was like already when people were really starting to hunker down. He told me I was being melodramatic and now that was very, very frustrating.

S23: But he just like wanted sex.

S24: And in the most non pejorative sense is like a slutty guy who likes to have fun and didn’t want to hear otherwise.

S25: I’m trying to understand why some people aren’t afraid of Corona virus and their desire for sex is trumping public safety concerns. Could you help me understand why those people are still out there trying to get laid?

S26: I think one thing to understand about the gay experience of disease is that for many gay men, it’s basically a matter of principle not to associate sex with fear during the HIV epidemic.

S24: Gay men were told in no uncertain terms that the way to stop getting sick and dying was to stop having sex forever, and that their pleasure and their sexual and romantic connections meant absolutely nothing. They were also told that by having sex, they were spreading the epidemic and they were infecting, quote unquote, innocence. And so you can imagine how not only people who lived through that, but people who sort of live in the wake of that.

S26: And HIV is still present. These dynamics are still present, even if it’s not the 80s and the 90s. You can imagine how people would respond negatively to this kind of public health message.

S23: Coronavirus is very different than AIDS. And a lot of people have spoken intelligently about the similarities and differences.

S26: But just on the level of an emotional trigger for some people or on the level of a mental framework, if you’re thinking about it the way that you would normally think about sex and disease, if you are thinking about it as though it were a sexually transmitted infection and somebody is telling you you shouldn’t be having sex with other people because you might spread this infection, it might feel a lot like the very damaging conversations that happened in the past and still sometimes happen around HIV.

S25: Have you given any thought into what happens now and what happens next? Like, are you going to continue to be using your phone and using the Internet to hook up with people, or are you going to be maybe trusting it less what you think?

S22: Well, the first thing I’ll say is I’ve had dry spells before this, my nine month. This might be nine months, but high school with four years. So it is something that can be survived. I hope I hope it’s not that like more seriously, I think in terms of my own dating life.

S27: It may become more of a dating life and less hookup focused. A lot of my sex life is focused around hookups. Another thing that I would note just in the background is that hookup culture and particularly gay and queer sex culture has changed a lot over time. There have been periods of relative openness in the tens and twenties and clampdowns in the 30s, 40s and 50s opened back up in the 60s and there was a real flourishing. Of public sex bases in the 60s and 70s is that then over the ensuing decades, were sort of shut down in stages.

S21: There used to be more bars in the East Village where people would have sex openly or hookup openly.

S23: And now there’s really only one bar of this kind in all of New York that I won’t name because they used to have two locations in. One of them was already shut down.

S22: So sex culture is a really dynamic thing and it changes over time.

S27: But people are horny and sexy and looking for sex and looking for love. And they usually manage to find a way somehow that can be more or less dangerous depending on the external constraints put on them by society. But they usually find a way.

S14: When we come back, we’ll hear from a guy who’s been trying extra hard to make sure that this outbreak doesn’t get in the way of his dating life. Stick around.

S28: For me, I got I got a bit of a jump on the whole quarantine thing because I was at a conference where it came in contact with a confirmed case. So I spent two weeks roughly in quarantine, including the last time when things were a little bit more normal in Denver anyway.

S7: Zach, as you can hear, is an old hand with social distancing and he has a jump on quarantine dating life to a kind of a cruel twist of fate.

S29: Is that on the gal that went on the first face time date with when I was in quarantine? I got out over the weekend and I texted her and was excited about doing a socially distance date or something. And then that day, her roommate search spiked a fever and now she’s in quarantine. So we like virtually high fived on the way in and out. And so we’ll have to do more quarantine face down dates again.

S30: But I’ve found that people are more receptive to doing a face time chat because I think everyone’s kind of struck by the existential threat in a way. And they’re like, well, we’ve got to do something.

S8: Do Ms. I’m so afraid of the idea of a face time date, even if only face timing. My relatives or friends, I always looked like a bird or like a fish. You know, the angle isn’t Ryan’s like it’s kind of like weird to hold it and talk like how does a virtual date like, oh, where?

S31: And it’s not natural.

S28: I mean, like you kind of have to go into it kind of seeing how I when I do improv, I go into being like, hey, I’m not gonna be I’m not going to look cool like this is not going to be you’re not going to come out of that thing like this is this is perfect. I mean, it’s less than ideal, but I think knowing having those realistic expectations going into it of just like, okay, the potential person is going to look a little different on face time than they may in real life. I’m I may not be looking my absolute best, but at the end of the day, I just kind of do do what you can. I’m always trying to look for the good, good lighting. Also try to think about what’s behind you, too. I like to I’m really into nature, especially in Colorado. That’s kind of comes with the territory.

S30: And so I try to shift it so that I have a bunch of my nature photographs hanging up. So, you know, I’m yet to be strategic about it.

S8: I mean, I’m married now by member going on like a bunch of first dates and being so scared. Right. Cause I feel, yeah, there’s so much weight put on first impressions. And you really have this idea of how you wanted to go and and as soon as things start to not go that way, I don’t know, I get all sweaty and weird. I know you can only imagine how much more comfortable virtual dates are or are they actually not so badly. What do you what do you think? How do they compare with real life in-person dates?

S32: I mean, like with virtual dates, you do lose some of the body language outside of your facial expressions. But it is you still get.

S31: Tone, you still learn a lot about someone. If there’s that rapport, I guess, to be honest, I had I wasn’t really thinking too much about that. Just more of like, OK, let’s just try to get to know them and go from there.

S8: Why not stop? Why not just put your dating life on pause?

S32: Because I think similar to setting an alarm every night before you go to sleep. I think dating is one of the most optimistic things that you can do because. Dating to me says there’s gonna be another side to this.

S30: There is going to be a world worth pursuing love in. At the end of the day.

S32: And so continuing to date is just a very hopeful thing that is keeping me. Positive, because if you if I were to stop dating.

S31: That’s kind of a giving up in a way, but at the same time, I totally understand, like why someone might want to take a pause because I’ve, you know, I’ve I’ve had my heart broken and you need time to heal from that. And so I get that.

S32: But there is I think that dating is important now for me as ever, because it’s still worth going for, like one of the most fundamental things about humans.

S8: Damn, Zach, you’re romantic as hell. I’ve been on like the opposite end of that where I’ve been kind of afraid that this is like the post-apocalyptic future sharing now.

S32: Oh, yeah. No, it’s scary. It’s I and I if I were to tell you that it’s not scary, I’d be lying. I just I really I find myself spiraling really quickly if I’m like, oh, well, this is it now and here. Here we go. You know, I don’t. Maybe it’s maybe it’s down. You know, maybe it is just kind of like put your head in the sand a little bit, but I don’t know how else to do it. And I’m trying it. This is the most authentic way that I can be for for my two myself in a way to try to keep my keep my sanity.

S8: Is it really about like finding a relationship and making a connection with someone that’s going to last? Or is it really just about dating and keeping it fun?

S30: It’s a really excellent question. I think that there is a degree of yes, there’s. This is kind of an escape, a fun way to to go about it, but also. I mean, I’m definitely hoping to foster a relationship through this, like extended old fashioned courtship, I guess, of just to talk without really any ability to. Do things together. I mean, we are together. Being alone at the same time. So it’s a it’s a weird juxtaposition, but I think that. I guess in my wildest dreams that you would find someone who, you know, continue to. Get to know each other and enjoy each other’s company virtually. And then it would naturally transition to the real world once that’s allowed to happen.

S33: I mean, I love romantic comedies, and so I I think that would it would I I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t hoping to find a quarantine. Sweetheart, that may transition into something serious on the other end. But I’m just at Avon each time I I am like, oh, this is the gout. This is the one. And then something happens. I’m like, nope, that was not it. I got it. I got to stop. So I guess I’m just trying to stop myself from becoming my worst enemy. Still.

S34: I feel like we all deserve a quarantine, sweetheart. So can’t blame them for shooting a shot. And that’s the show. Thank you so much for listening. We also want to know how the men in your life are changing right now. Are they showing you a different side of themselves, for better or worse? Or are you a man who’s been seeing things differently? What other stories should man up tell in this pandemic? Call us at 8 0 5 6 2 6 8 7 0 7 8 8 0 5 men of 0 7. Or you can always e-mail us at man up at Slate.com. And don’t forget to make sure you subscribe to because we’ve got new shows every week. And believe me, you do not want to miss out. Man Up is hosted and written by me, a minute maid. It’s produced by Cameron Drewes. Our editors are Jeffrey Bloomer and Lowe and Lou Gabriel Roth is the editorial director, gristly podcasts and June Thomas is a senior managing producer, Ousley podcasts. We’ll be back next week with more men up.