My Last Five Dates: A Private Restaurant, a Helicopter Ride, and Finding Love on Clubhouse

Pauleanna Reid
·6 min read

Before COVID-19 put all of our social calendars on hold, my dates were extravagant. In a normal year, I’d split my time between four major cities in Canada and the U.S., which gave me a vast dating pool. But even with options, I still moved in ways that honored what I wanted: a healthy relationship.

I approach my dating life the same way I approach my career—with purpose and clear intentions. Let’s face it, a lot of us have been given bad relationship advice over the years. We’ve been told to pretend we aren’t interested or to play hard to get. But I have never understood saying things that contradict what you actually want. So I’m strategic. I’ve been paying for the premium versions of dating apps for years, able to see who swipes on my profile first so I can narrow down options and avoid swiping forever. I’m also clear in my bio—I’m dating to meet my person, not just to pass my time. And it’s been amazing.

Date 1

Let’s call him Adam. We met on Hinge. He was funny and insightful. The kind of person you could have endless conversations with. For our first date he rented out an entire restaurant for me tucked away in the Distillery District in Toronto, so that it was just him and me. This gave us the opportunity to get to know one another in an intimate but public setting. Plus, a crowded restaurant on a first date can be overwhelming and make conversation that much more difficult.

Date 2

On my next date (with a new guy) I actually rented a helicopter and took him out on a tour of the city—he had just moved, and I love an extravagant date. Again, this gave us time together with some privacy yet without losing the wow factor I love so much. When you’re trying to get to know someone, it can be so tempting to invite them over to just hang out, but I love to see effort. It’s how I know a person is interested, and it gives me a signal to respond accordingly.

Date 3

Then there was N.Y. bae. We broke up right when the pandemic started because I knew there was no way I was getting on a flight anytime soon. And it was hard. This was a person that I loved spending time with but couldn’t anymore without putting the people that I loved at risk. However, something that I learned in my 10 years of online dating is to adopt an abundance mindset. There are so many people out there looking for someone exactly like you. Holding onto something that no longer works is a disservice to yourself, that person, and the moments you shared together.

Date(s) 4

In lockdown, things changed. Only they really didn’t—at least not in the ways I had anticipated. Sure, my dates changed. I wasn’t flying across the country anymore or being whisked away on extravagant first dates. But the quality of conversations made where we were irrelevant.

COVID-19 shifted how we connect. It created space for us to slow down and hear each other at a personal level, without the background noise we’ve become accustomed to. I’ve spent hours having soul-nourishing conversations with people that would normally take months to cultivate. I have had remarkable dates, even while following strict social-distancing guidelines. One person I was talking to consistently went out of his way to care for me in my love language. He would drop off “date night” packages, arrange to have my car picked up and cleaned, and spend hours on the phone with me.

Date 5

And then, I met my current partner.

If it weren’t for the pandemic, I don’t know if we would be here. We met after speaking virtually on a panel together on Clubhouse. After our session ended, I knew this was someone I needed to know. So I was pleasantly surprised when I realized they had already reached out to me on Instagram, congratulating me on how well I did on the virtual stage. This person had caught my eye previously, but I’d never made a move. I let nerves get the best of me and left it alone. This time I took the opportunity and responded to their DM with my number. I got a call within seconds.

For the next two weeks, we talked for nine hours a day. Remember in high school, when you’d fall asleep on the phone with your boyfriend? It was that kind of thing.

When you meet a soul connection, whether it’s friendship or romantic, there’s that feeling of instant safety. It’s familiar, almost as if you’ve met this person or energy before. My other dates were fun and I was certainly cared for, but this was different. This time I felt understood and seen as the person that I actually am. After our first month of honest and heartfelt conversations, we decided to meet in person. Flying to meet them was the first and only trip I took during 2020. I contemplated not going at all, or waiting until the world had returned to normal. But I knew that there was something here and I needed to understand what it was. 

So I packed my bags and got on a flight. My partner booked us a suite at the Ritz Carlton. When I walked off the elevator, sitting in front of the door to our room was a vase filled with my favorite flowers, a massive bouquet of white lilies. And then my partner walked out and I have never been more certain of any person. There were countless romantic moments on that trip. Sure, I was used to big, grand gestures, but these were much more intimate and personal. It’s been over two months, and I’m still here in what feels like a fairy tale. Honestly, I’m not sure if I’m ever going back home. I have never been happier.

I certainly did not ever see myself finding love on Clubhouse. Needless to say, I’m not mad about it. COVID-19 took a lot from us, but it also gave us space to slow down and let love find us. I’m so grateful I kept my heart open. I am on the wildest ride of my life and do not regret a damn thing. We are taking it one day at a time and I’m giving myself permission to feel it all. 

Originally Appeared on Glamour