L.A. Affairs: Swiping for Mr. Right while freezing my eggs

Lindsey Gentile
·6 min read
Two masks, with the strings of one forming a heart.
I decided to get everything out in the open so there'd be no unwanted surprises. (Virginia Kraljevic / For The Times)

I was suffering nightmares and anxiety attacks, a side effect of being held at gunpoint at a nail salon in Silver Lake in the middle of the day. My mom had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. It was the first week of March 2020, so we were all teeing up to be hit by a global pandemic.

And the guy I had spent the last five years with chose the backdrop of this glorious trifecta to break up with me.

So there I was. A 37-year-old single woman who needed to move on, move out and did I mention that before this all went down I had started the process of freezing my eggs?

After a few months of listening to me pine over my failed relationship and how I was destined to die alone, my therapist encouraged me to get on dating apps and dip my toe in the socially distanced dating pool. Um, hi. I haven’t actually dated in years and I’m freezing my eggs. Also, did my therapist forget that we are in the middle of a pandemic?! How was I supposed to date in this circle of hell? The encouragement continued.

I started slow with a guy I met on Hinge, who introduced me to the awkward but now necessary world of FaceTime and Zoom dates. One night, he played the flute over FaceTime and I’m sorry to say that it wasn’t a match.

Then I met a cute cameraman on Hinge and we decided to set up a walking date around my neighborhood in the hills of Los Feliz. I hadn't left my house in weeks so if I was going to leave it, I was trying my best not to drive and park and deal with the other L.A. driving drama that I typically dealt with in "the before times."

I hadn’t seen anyone outside of my small circle in months so I had a lot of questions as to how this was going to work.

Would I be able to pick him out of a crowd when he was wearing a mask? How would we know if there was any chemistry if we couldn't touch? Could I drink on our hike if I was wearing a mask? Turns out that you can drink on a hike and you can also tell that it’s not a match even when a mask is covering half of their face.

After my in-person letdown, I began chatting via Hinge app with another cameraman — this is L.A., after all — but he wanted to FaceTime with me right away. Due to a recent catfish situation, he wanted to see if I was really, well, me. He was cute, nerdy and a little too into bonsai trees, but my therapist would have wanted me to go out with him so I did.

We went on a socially distanced hike date to Griffith Park. And I told him I was freezing my eggs because I knew that whoever was going to date me should know that I was about to pump myself with hormones and poke myself with a million little needles. Look, I'm 37 and in a no-B.S. zone. What you see is what you get. I'm at the point in my life where I'd rather get everything on the table on Day One so there are no unwanted surprises.

Also, if I was going to eventually get naked with this person, they would see all the little poke marks and all the bruising on my stomach anyway.

For date No. 2, we met at the Black Cat in Silverlake. I was eager to dress up and wear makeup again but ladies, I have some news. Now you have to match the mask with the outfit and lipstick is just a mess. Earrings? Forget it.

When we met, there was this awkward moment when we didn’t know if we should touch so we hugged and then went to opposite sides of a long picnic table and took off our masks. Who thought that seeing someone’s mouth could be so naughty? I hadn't been to an outdoor restaurant since the pandemic began, so it felt so scandalous.

I couldn’t drink because I was trying to get whatever life was left out of those old eggs of mine so it was interesting to get to know someone from afar, outdoors and sober. Usually for me, dating after a breakup is sloppy, messy, loud and drunk. At the end of the night, we skipped a kiss and indulged in another masked hug instead.

We went on more dates where we kept our distance. It felt alienating and weird. The end of each date was met with thoughts like, "Do we touch?" and "Do we kiss?" and "If we hug, do we go for masks on or off?" After a few outdoor dates, we knew it was time to get indoors. We got tested, you know, the Covid kind. It had been seven months since I touched someone other than a member of my Covid crew and it felt like a dream. Now, I'd like to say that this is where things got steamy. I'd like to say that because my hormones were raging. I was ready to pounce. But no. We had to take things slow because, remember, I was knee-deep in freezing my eggs so my downstairs was closed for business.

This was the first time I was ever forced to take things slow. I couldn’t drink to help me get flirty or let my guard down. I couldn’t go to bars with lots of distractions to help ease the awkward “getting to know you” phase. It was me and him on a couch or hike or balcony just talking. Talking was the new foreplay.

We dated through injections, bloating, egg retrieval and recovery. He supported me during some of my injections even though needles make him woozy. He rubbed my belly when my stomach was a ball of gas that felt as if it was going to explode. He brought me chocolate even though my doctor said I couldn't eat it. He gave me space when I needed it.

He became my support system on a journey I had planned to go through alone.

Cameraman No. 2 and I are in love and making pandemic life work. I have 11 mature eggs on ice and a heart that, thanks to my therapist and an adorable cameraman, is somehow warm again.

I thought dating during this pandemic would be a nightmare. Sure, there are health risks. But that just means you're forced to swipe carefully. So 10/10. Highly recommend.

The author is a writer, podcaster, actor and personal trainer and She is on Instagram at @lindseygentile and at lindseygentile.com

L.A. Affairs chronicles the search for romantic love in all its glorious expressions in the L.A. area, and we want to hear your true story. We pay $300 for a published essay. Email LAAffairs@latimes.com. You can find submission guidelines here.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.