In the Mx: Getting Started

Elise English (they/them); San Francisco, CA—

The Questions Elise Answers:

1. How can you start a relationship during quarantine?

2. How do you use Tinder effectively? Can you even use Tinder effectively?

3. Do you have some advice on having sex for the first time with someone who is more experienced? How do you manage the insecurities that come with that?

If you have questions for Elise, ask them here.


1. How can you start a relationship during quarantine? — Melvin, she/her

Very, very carefully. The COVID-19 pandemic has been hard, and we don’t know when a vaccine will be available. But it is possible to have a relationship during this pandemic!

Scarleteen (a website that I cannot recommend enough) wrote a large article on how to date/have sex during this pandemic while being as safe as possible. Some cliff notes from the article are:

1) If you don’t already know someone, start online. Skype, Discord, Google Hangouts and FaceTime are all free ways to talk with someone; get a feel for their personality, and see if you click without needing to mask up and maintain social distancing.

This is also a good way to see if someone is taking quarantine seriously. If they start to pressure you to meet up, if they play off the pandemic as “not as bad as it is” or some other excuse or if they otherwise make you uncomfortable/push your boundaries, that’s a major red flag and one that’s good to know before you meet in person.

2) Ask the potential partner(s) about their status. Are they working in person? Are they masking up/maintaining social distancing? Do they have roommates? Are those roommates taking the quarantine seriously too? How many people has your prospective partner(s) welcomed into their pod? When was their last COVID-19 test?

3) Whenever you both feel safe and comfortable with one another, try a public setting, like a park. Maintain social distancing and masking. It isn’t a bad idea to let a friend know what’s going on with a message like “Hey, I’m meeting up with someone. Their name is (x), we’re going to (y) and if I don’t call you back/text you by (z), please let folx know.”

4) If you have roommates, talk with them before you start in-person dating. It’s important for the people you’re in quarantine with to know what’s going on. This importance is doubled if you and the potential partner(s) are meeting without masks and/or having sex.

I urge you to check out the article. It’s a fairly short but informative read that will provide you with ways to date in ways that are as safe as possible for you, your pod and your potential partner(s). Good luck!


2. How do you use Tinder effectively? Can you even use Tinder effectively? — sal, he/him

Yes, you can use Tinder effectively! My rules for Tinder are:

1) Selfies and full-body photos only. Group photos, especially as your profile pic, are gonna confuse people. Memes can be nice, but I’d say it should be a 3 or 4:1 ratio with the selfies/full bodies being the 3 to 4. For selfies, try to avoid major close-ups, and pick the photos you’re happiest with!

2) Fill out your profile with some interesting facts about yourself! Show your personality, and be honest with what you want. Some people might not be looking for the same thing you want, but it’s much better to learn that before you start dating.

3) The filter options are your friend; use them! If you’re okay with a long-distance relationship, great! If not, set your settings, so you know how far someone could be from you. Not comfortable with dating someone in a specific age range? Tinder lets you search from folx from 18-100 so you can pick and choose what you’re comfortable with.

4) Always read profiles. Auto-swiping can be soothing, but no one wants to write out a profile listing what they want only to have someone send them a message like “Hey! What are you looking for?” Plus, it’s better to pick up any flags that you might not be a good mix for one another before you match.

Plus, you can pick out pieces of their bio to start a conversation. Is your potential partner into music? Ask them what bands they’re listening to! Are they a gamer? Ask them what some of their favorite games are and what they’re playing! Is their bio blank? Well… it might be best to swipe left.

5) Be ready for rejection. It sucks, but like most dating situations, sometimes people just aren’t interested for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s you; sometimes it’s not. My personal rule is to give someone 72 hours. If they don’t respond by that point, I assume they aren’t interested, and I walk away.

This is by no means a definitive list, but it’s one that’s worked well for me. Best of luck to you!


3. Do you have some advice on having sex for the first time with someone who is more experienced? How do you manage the insecurities that come with that? — Alexa, she/her

Be open and honest about your insecurities. But, also, be open about what you want to experience and what you like! Ask them what they enjoy too! This will give your partner a chance to do the things you enjoy and give you some ground to work with.

Here’s a quick checklist to help with your first time:

1) A bottle of water-based lube. Check the ingredients to make sure the ingredients are safe for you and your partner(s)!

2)  A sample box of condoms. I strongly recommend against spermicide and numbing-based condoms due to a variety of reasons listed here, primarily an increased risk of STDs and STIs from possible rips and tears during intercourse and a potentially bigger mess with regards to both.

3) A couple of towels (one to clean up after sex and one to lay down in case things get messy) are all good ideas too! This way you can experiment and not worry about the mess.

I hope you both have a wonderful time with one another!

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