Online dating has a problem. Exactly what the problem is depends on whom you ask, but it’s either the men or the women. For men, online dating is a thankless grind of making approaches and being rejected. For women, it’s a hellscape of male entitlement and unsolicited penis pictures. Men do a lot of liking and make barely any matches; women like less often, and get more matches in return. And, crucially, neither side of this situation will ever see what the other one goes through.

The gendered experience of using a dating app is so disparate that you can perhaps best think of it as one platform occupied by two overlapping worlds: each invisibly shapes the other’s existence. It’s bleak-sounding, but it’s also unavoidable if you’re looking for a hookup or a partner—dating apps overtook introductions through friends as the main way for heterosexual couples to meet in 2013, and the pandemic has only entrenched that by removing practically all opportunities for casual in-person contact.