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Photograph: Shutterstock
Photograph: Shutterstock

Got bad lockdown dating stories? We want to know about them

We asked everyone at Time Out for their dating disasters. We didn’t expect them to be this bizarre...

Written by Time Out. Paid for by Inner Circle

If you’ve been single in 2020, then we hope you’re treating yourself extra-nicely this Christmas, because pal, you deserve it. Who could’ve known, 12 months ago, that come March 23, the Prime bloody Minister would appear on telly and decree that it was legally forbidden to so much as come into two metres of someone you didn’t live with? Wild, wild times. Since then, dating during the pandemic has been a minefield of awkward Zoom chats, increasingly freezing socially distanced walks and the question of when (if ever) it’s okay to touch. 

But here’s the thing about us Londoners: we’re a resilient bunch. Many of us have continued dating through 2020 – and many have been using the app Inner Circle to do it. Inner Circle is a community of nearly three million members who are serious about dating, but want to have fun while they’re doing it. It’s free to join, and every profile is verified to ensure members are genuine. Not only that, but the app is filled with tips on great date ideas in your area and fun little conversation starters.

The folks at Inner Circle know that it’s been a tough year for dating – which is why they want to give back to singles and help them start afresh next year. They've just launched Refund My Shit Date: The Pandemic Edition – they’ve pledged to reward the worst pandemic dating stories with some pretty great prizes to help you get back on your feet. We’re talking everything from Headspace subscriptions and massages to Kobox classes so you can let out some of your anger. Generous, right? 

To kick things off, we asked Time Out staff members for some of their worst-ever dating stories. Naturally, we changed their names… 

Five awful pandemic dates
Photograph: Shutterstock

Five awful pandemic dates

The threesome nobody wants

'I matched with a girl online and took her out for a nice, socially distanced date this summer. Everything was going well until the point where she asked me if I’d like to meet her friend. I was happy to do so until she explained that it was her imaginary friend who had been with us all the time. I laughed thinking she was joking but it turns out she was deadly serious. I turned down the opportunity of heading home with them both'. Michael*

The bad connection

'I went on a socially distanced date this year and we were really well behaved, keeping our distance despite clearly finding each other attractive. It all went downhill, though, when he insisted on hearing my phone sex technique... as "That's the only way we'll be able to get frisky". He kept bringing it up, before deciding that it would be a good idea to give some examples of his own skills. It was massively embarrassing given people could clearly overhear what he was saying. We didn't meet again. Or chat on the phone.' Ben*

The lip-licking pandemic denier 

'I matched with a guy who was really funny, worked in the art world – tall, dark and handsome. Tick tick tick. So, one evening outside The Blind Pig when a portly, balding man showed up, I was a little disappointed. But hey, I know nothing about art so thought at least we could have a nice, friendly evening. He was fully masked up when we met, but then when we sat down to eat, he took it off and started licking his lips. And he COULD NOT stop doing it. Everyone has their nervous habits – but licking his lips like a dehydrated salamander AND staring at my chest simultaneously? Too much. I knew it was time to leave when he started talking about how the pandemic was all a hoax and that the vaccine was a way of controlling our minds. I made a swift exit making an excuse about a friend who had just gone through a bad break up and needed a cuddle.' Steph*

The 'was it worth it'?

'I’d been talking to a woman online for a few weeks and we got along super well, so we decided to meet up in a park. We hit it off instantly and the chemistry was next-level. We tried to maintain social distancing and keep our hands off each other, but the temptation grew too strong. She invited me to hers, but said that we had to be super sneaky because her flatmate wouldn’t allow anyone to come over. We had an amazing night together, but in the morning, she insisted I creep out the window. She lived on the second floor! I reluctantly agreed, but as I started to shimmy down the drainpipe it began to come away from the wall. I fell down into a rosemary bush and sprained my ankle, and she didn’t even come outside to help me. Suffice to say I haven’t seen her again.' Camille*

The tardy spewer

'A guy turned up two hours late to our first date – his excuse was that he was at a barbecue out of town and didn’t feel comfortable taking public transport so walked most of the way to the pub. We went to the Duke of Edinburgh in Brixton for a pint and had a lovely time, but as we were getting up to leave he goes "Oh no", grabs his pint glass and fully vomits into it. Somehow none of that was a deal-breaker for me and we're still together!' Penny*

*All names have been changed.

Got your own shit pandemic date story to tell? Get it off your chest, put it behind you and get ready to try again in 2021. All you need to do is visit the website, submit your story, rate it by how much emotional damage it caused, and boom – you're in it to win it. All stories are anonymous, and you can also view some of the best submissions now. Honestly, some of them are borderline unbearable to read (and that's why you'll love them). Take this doozy for example:

Caught and fined
'Peak lockdown, I went on a date in a park but all the toilets were closed. I was 45 minutes from home and was really enjoying myself, so I didn't want to go home. I took a chance and went to the toilet in a close by bush but ended up getting caught and getting a £100 fine. And then he ghosted me!'

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