Sending you a (socially distant) hug

Welcome to Quarantine 15: a spot of joy in your inbox on work, life, and navigating the start of 2021. In case we haven’t met, I’m Nikki Gusz, a co-founder of Lloyd, a career GPS for young professionals. You can follow me on Twitter @nkgusz or subscribe to this email newsletter here.


Today, around here you’ll find:

(1) A little reflection on the week

(2) A conversation

(3) A treat from me

(1) A little reflection on the week

Happy Valentine’s Day, all. It’s a holiday with some weird history, so if it’s not your scene, I get it (perhaps your way might be more Galentine’s Day—happy belated if you’re celebrating). Nevertheless, in the sprit of what we’re doing here at Q15, we’ll take any opportunity to send a dose of positivity and socially distant hugs into the world. This week we’re diving more into love and connection, including in our pandemic, digital world. But don’t worry, it’ll get frosty at the close.

(2) A conversation

Recently, I had the chance to connect with Emily Smith, a writer and tech founder mostly based in Brooklyn, and often retreating to California. She writes about relationships, gender, and technology. She is also working on a novel and a collection of essays. Emily founded Chorus, a matchmaking app where friends swipe for friends. Chorus is a female-led, venture backed startup that aims to bring community, accountability, and humanity back to modern dating.

It’s Valentine’s Day! Opt in or out? 

I’m not a Valentine’s Day person, personally. I’m always down for an excuse to appreciate the people I love, whether it’s a partner, friends, family, and of course yourself. So in that sense, yes, I’m all for a delicious dinner and chocolate if you’re in the mood for that, and telling your people that you love them. But I’m not a fan of creating any particular pressure around the day.

Chorus feels like a very hip yenta (or our misconception of what the word yenta means). Why should we depend on our friends (or family? Does that happen?) to help us find love?

Hah, I had many people suggest that I call it Yenta when we started. And yes, lots of people have their family members swiping for them! Our friends and family really know us best, and want us to be happy, so they’re usually pretty good at spotting matches. Plus, if our friend thinks someone is good for us we’re generally more likely to give them a shot. I also think it just makes the whole dating experience less lonely—it’s a lot more fun to online date if your friends know who you’re talking about and are in there with you.

What is your favorite dating data point? 

Online dating recently eclipsed meeting through friends as the top way couples meet; meeting through friends has held the top spot since 2013. This isn’t my “favorite” in the sense that I think it’s a good thing, but I find the stat fascinating. I miss the days when we all met through friends, which is a big reason I founded Chorus. I think it adds a level of accountability and trust to dating that gets flattened when we’re all just swiping for ourselves. Online dating clearly is not going away but I do think we need to loop friends back into the process--make it more communal and fun again.

What have you learned about love and dating building a dating company?

It’s been pretty wild to see how much people like our Dating Roulette nights, which are essentially 5 min speed dates on the app every Wednesday night. The face-to-face meeting, even just for a few minutes, goes a really long way in making a connection and getting a feel for someone.

The world can feel a little hard now. What’s a favorite story about love that you’ve enjoyed? 

Well, I’ll share personally that I’ve been more or less single for six years (barring the occasional entanglement or short-term thing) and was going kind of crazy all alone in quarantine. I was feeling super heartbroken last year, in the midst of a particularly bad situation, and in the middle of it, when I thought I was least likely to meet someone, I met someone amazing. Now I’m in a happy, stable relationship for the first time in a very long time. I learned a lot from that last toxic experience, and was very ready to let something better in. Gotta keep putting yourself out there!

Ask a question of yourself about love or dating you’ve always wanted to answer. 

I often wonder why it seems so easy for men to fall into relationships when they’re ready for one, whereas it often takes a long time for women to find someone they really connect with? 

This is a generalization for sure but I do find it (generally) to be true. I have no real answer to this, but do have a lot of theories. I wrote a whole essay about how men tend to prioritize logistical fit as they get older, whereas women prioritize being understood, and how our tendency as a culture to admire men impacts this trend in dating and relationships. 

(3) A treat from me

It’s been a wintry mix over the past few weeks for many parts of the Northern Hemisphere (Phoenix, do not @ me). Perhaps you saw the joyful frolics of the pandas at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C. However, if you’re like me and have a more fraught relationship with winter, you might relate to the Toronto Zoo taking a snowperson to the mat in Canada.