I Went On Tinder When I Was Five Months Pregnant
Jul 17, 2019
Above: The requisite body shot for my Tinder profile, with subtle inclusion of my disability (further disclosure issues!).
I didn’t consider dating while pregnant to be taboo until I told friends or colleagues what I was doing and saw their reactions. “Bold!” they stammered as their ideas of pregnancy (wholesome!) and online dating (risky!) clashed.
Disclosure in online dating is always an interesting debate. How much do you reveal up front? I decided to keep my pregnancy private.
But dating while pregnant made sense to me. I was a single mom by choice; I’d conceived using anonymous donor sperm through a fertility clinic. If everything went as I hoped, that summer would be the last chance I had to date for awhile. Years, probably. I didn’t imagine that as a single mom I’d have the interest, much less the opportunity, to date.
People have many strong opinions about pregnancy: what you should eat, do, even think. Single people date all the time, but a pregnant single person dating seemed to startle folks. It was one thing for a pregnant woman to have sex with a partner who’s presumably the other parent of the child, but the thought of a pregnant woman having sex with someone who wasn’t the other parent? Egad! What will the single ladies think of next?
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I’d lived in Toronto for only a few years. Online dating had been a great way not just to get laid (let’s be honest), but also to try a new restaurant with someone or head to a new beach. In pursuing single motherhood, I had decidedly shifted my intentions with dating. I used to be on the lookout for long-term potential, but once I chose to become pregnant on my own, that was no longer my goal. Dating, now, was for short-term fun, and I wanted to soak up the last few months of my truly single life before a baby became my constant plus-one.
Disclosure in online dating is always an interesting debate. How much do you reveal up front? I decided to keep my pregnancy private. As purely a health condition, it wasn’t anyone’s business — but I didn’t want to mislead anyone when it came to what I was looking for.
I didn’t join Tinder while I was pregnant looking for anything serious, certainly not looking for a co-parent and definitely not looking for love.
My bio gave the first hint: "Looking for short-term fling to enjoy summer in the city." I reiterated to my first match that I wasn’t looking for anything serious, but they happened to only be in Toronto for an extended vacay, so that worked well. In person, the date was a dud — we met in a pub and I sipped my one ginger ale quietly while they downed four pints and droned on about their personal wealth, it seemed, whether I was there to listen or not. But because it was low stakes, it was easy not to feel disappointed.
I liked the next person I matched with and met. They were witty, had an interesting job and asked good, lighthearted questions. In the past, even a tiny burgeoning crush would quickly be followed by a bellowing “IS THIS THE ONE?” But replacing that question with “is this my summer fling?” took the pressure off, and it was easier than I expected to just enjoy a little buzz of attraction and flirtation.
It never felt weird to not mention my pregnancy (because private!), but the first time a conversation about birth control came up, I wasn’t prepared. I didn’t want to lie about using any method. “I can’t get pregnant,” I said in a way that I hoped would curtail follow-up questions. Whether my already being pregnant occured to that lover as the reason, I’ll never know.
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But online dating is a crapshoot. I’d logged onto Tinder early in the pregnancy, and a few months in, I hadn’t gone on more than two or three dates with the same person and hadn’t found the right summer-fling match. I’d had some pleasant conversations, a couple nice house guests (ahem), but my interest in the process was waning. Five months in, I was starting to look undeniably pregnant, no matter the number of flowy tops I wore. In turn, I was beginning to feel like I was lying rather than just keeping something private.
Around that point, I went on a first date with someone who lived close by — a potential perk in the fling department, such ease! — and as we talked about music, road trips and the perils of cycling in the city, I had to keep reminding myself to keep my hands on the table. I’d developed a habit while pregnant of resting my hands on top of my belly, but on the date, I made sure to fidget with the straw in my drink to keep from sitting back and maternally stroking my newly rounding tummy under my baggy shirt.
Dating, now, was for short-term fun, and I wanted to soak up the last few months of my truly single life before a baby became my constant plus-one.
For the first time, I went home feeling a bit of regret. The pregnancy was becoming too present to keep out of a relationship, short term or not. I messaged the guy and told them I’d had a good time, but had decided to take a break from dating. I meant to delete the app, but couldn’t resist flipping through a few more profiles, one last time.
Being queer, my Tinder settings were set to seek both men and women, and matches thus far had been a mix. As I perused, telling myself I was getting the final few swipes out of my system, a woman came up who looked amazing: a total babe, smart and funny. She was, in fact, someone I’d seen online a year before but because she had seemed so cool, I felt nervous, balked and logged off without taking any action. Here she was again, and this time, I had nothing to lose.
I swiped right. A match. But I’ve just decided not to date anymore, I thought, so I closed the app without messaging her. The next day, I got a notification that she had taken the first step and sent me a note. After some charming back and forth, she asked me out.
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I said yes, “but…” — and told her I was pregnant. She was the first potential date I had told, and it felt good to be honest about it. I added that I understood if that felt weird, plus my whole not-looking-for-anything-serious bit.
She replied that the pregnancy wasn’t a dealbreaker, but the short-term part was. She asked: would you be open to dating past when the baby was born?
While I was battling other people’s ideas about what I should or shouldn’t do as a single preggo person, I’d placed limitations on myself.
It was a good question. While I was battling other people’s ideas about what I should or shouldn’t do as a single preggo person, I’d placed limitations on myself. The truth was, I couldn’t picture what being in a new relationship and having a new baby would look like. But I realized, just because I couldn’t imagine it didn’t mean there wasn’t some version of that being possible.
I didn’t join Tinder while I was pregnant looking for anything serious, certainly not looking for a co-parent and definitely not looking for love. But as this woman and I made plans to meet for tea, I felt that incredible and hard-to-find tingle of excitement. I remembered that you can only plan so much in life — the rest you just have to be open to trying.
Two years later, when people ask how my love and I met and I say “on Tinder,” there’s often a slightly surprised, “Really?” But the jaws still drop when I add, “Yes, and I was pregnant at the time.”
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