Serena Kerrigan, self-proclaimed Queen of Confidence, advocate of virtual dating and the Host of hot Instagram Live show, “Let’s Fucking Date,” asked me on the phone, “How many times have you been on a first date and you had your friends and family watching you?” Hm, probably never.
She started her Instagram Live show the first weekend of April. By July, the quarantine has pretty much ended in NYC and the first season of the show is finished, too. “I think in the beginning of quarantine everyone was like, oh, this will be over in a month. And I realized that you can’t live like that. You have to live in the moment.”
Another reason she started this show is that on Friday nights, Kerrigan usually meets with friends. “I was thinking, what if I could create something where they feel like they are invited to a party every single Friday, and they’re going to see each other in the comments section during these lives and they can talk to one another. They can get their family members; they can throw it on their Apple TV. So, it was really creating a community and giving them a kind of something to look forward to throughout this whole experience.” The show also created an amazing dialogue about dating, confidence and red flags. “I always look out for: Does he ask me questions? Is he interested in actually what I’m saying or is he asking me a question just so he can tell me his response?” says Kerrigan.
At least 20 men participated with her in this experience, even though she was not dating before the quarantine at all. Why? “I think for couple of different reasons. One being that I’m very career-driven and career-focused. I just find myself getting distracted when I date. Becoming financially secure and independent and getting success – that’s what to me is the most important thing in my life in the current moment,” explained Kerrigan over our call.
Her brand, SFK (Serena Fucking Kerrigan, Kerrigan’s alter ego), is all about empowering women and making them realize that the very first thing they need is themselves.
“Then I did feel this sudden wave of anxiety and desperation of not having a companion to kind of weather the storm with,” she confessed to her followers. Yes, ‘corona boyfriend’ is a thing – and this sudden wave of anxiety was really off-brand for Kerrigan. So, she talked to a cultural anthropologist and a psychologist. “I felt like a fraud, that I lost part of my identity that I’ve been so proud of. Women from the young age indoctrinated to think that they need a man, Prince Charming, to have their ‘happily ever after.’ And I really had to do a lot of unlearning to realize that’s not true at all. I personally find it difficult to wrap my head around the fact that we have to be monogamous and feel completed when we meet someone. You can be completely fulfilled on your own!” And then quarantine happened: lockdown, March 13, 2020, and she never forgot crying in her apartment.
“Is he interested in actually what I’m saying or is he asking me a question just so he can tell me his response?”
“If you’re not comfortable being alone, you need to do some real self-searching and some confidence coaching with me. Pandemic makes you realize what do I have and what I don’t have? Life is short. Life is unpredictable. Life is precious. COVID made a lot of young people question their identity, their place in the world, their job, their family, their relationships. But I think that’s a very healthy thing. Self-awareness and wanting to be the best version of the best life for yourself is the best thing you can do. So even though it’s uncomfortable to make these realizations about yourself,” says Kerrigan.
Thanks to quarantine, we have a new culture of virtual dating. “This is really the new normal and I think [it] gassed up pretty quickly. People were going live. It was a hot thing. And I was good on going live thanks to my experience at Refinery29. I was good at engaging and maintaining a really steady audience throughout the hour. And I was single, and I was like, why not? Why not put myself out there?” explains Kerrigan.
We asked Kerrigan what the rules are and why we should all try virtual dating. Here are some good reasons:
You are more likely to be yourself
“You’re in the comfort of your own home. You don’t have to worry about drinking. You don’t worry about sex. You don’t worry about spending money. You’re just getting to know them. And if you don’t like him or if you’re not feeling good, you just end the call, which is another equalizer. I guess virtual dating is an innovation of our time, it isn’t weird at all. It’s the way to guarantee safety and not only because of COVID. Sometimes in offline, you wanted the date to go so well, you’re going to laugh at his jokes that maybe you don’t even find funny. You’re giving up so much of your time and effort into this date already that you want it to go well. Once when I came back from my date and my roommate asked me ‘Do you even like him?’ I never even thought about that. I wanted to feel validated that I was making the right call.”
Communication is key
“Dating apps are not dating, they are introductory apps. The date doesn’t begin there – that’s why I say go on a Facetime date. And, honestly, I think at this point because of COVID and this dynamic, if a guy is very ambivalent or very against going on Facetime before the date, that’s a roadblock to me. Right now, it might be hard to meet someone, but regardless, why wouldn’t you spend 20 minutes seeing if you have a connection? At the end of the day, the foundation of any relationship is communication. ‘Who can I talk to for hours? Who is I can’t ever run out of anything you talk to?’ That is going to be your person. So why would you spend hours getting ready, picking a place, getting to the place, having to pay for a train, when you know within the first five minutes whether you’re going to like them or not.”
You don’t lose the magic of an offline date
“The point of a date is to get to know somebody. It’s important to really add that curiosity. All of the dates in the show were blind. I had people submit the dates through an email address. My producer would text me their account names on Instagram literally a minute before I would let them in. I did not know who I was going on a date with before at all. I did this on purpose. I think by 2020, we go on dates with these preconceived notions that we got through a dating profile, through an Instagram search. And it really takes out the magic because you are going in with all these ideas about who they are. I think it infects the date instead of just being like, ‘I’m excited, I’m going to do it with someone.’ Instead of judging him based off of what he looks like or if he’s holding a fish in a photo.”
No obligation to stay
“Also, if you’re on a FaceTime, and it’s not going well, you should feel completely liberated to just say, ‘Hey, I gotta go,’ and leave. If you feel more comfortable saying, ’Hey, my banana bread I’m making is on fire’ or ‘I have to go to a Zoom birthday party.’ Say whatever you want, but you have no obligation to stay. And I think that in real life, you feel a lot of obligation because there’s money involved, because of the logistics, time and planning. You don’t want to hurt their feelings. That this is a safe way where you can literally just make the call. Yes or No? Next!”
No unnecessary small talk
“We live in such a divisive time, I would like to probably know right off the bat if they are Trump supporters or not. So maybe people would disagree with me, but quite frankly, that’s a deal breaker for me. If you have really serious deal breakers, you might as well know. Let’s get them off the table. I believe that time is the most valuable thing in life. That’s what you never get back. Money, fame, it’ll go away and come back, but not your time.
I do think that aside from that, there is another great thing about dating right now is that we all have this common shared experience. And no one’s ever been through before. The novelty of a pandemic really brings us closer together and accelerates the intimacy in a way that it hasn’t before. Before you would go on a date and play bullshit name game about your college and who you knew and whatever. Now it’s more – who do you quarantining with? Do you know someone who has COVID? Were you sick? Do you have a job? There’s just so many things to talk about the epidemic has given us. In a way you’re able to have these intimate, real serious conversations from the get-go. That’s probably the opener, isn’t it?”
No ghosting, be vocal if you don’t like something
“I think now it’s normalized so much. Just stopping speaking to them will leave a lot of unanswered questions and would immediately make you feel insecure.What I did the other night, you can say, ‘Hey, you’re amazing. I had the best time ever. But I don’t think that this is the best fit’ or ‘I’m not sure that this is what I need right now’ or like ‘I’d rather just stay friends’. His reaction was amazing. And we’re actually going to grab dinner in a week as friends, because I genuinely thought he was great, but he just wasn’t for me. And if you don’t like something, it’s okay, but be vocal about it and feel confident enough to say your piece. You’re not being aggressive, you’re not being mean, you’re being honest and people value honesty above anything else.”
And don’t take rejection personally
“It doesn’t mean you did something wrong. That you wore the wrong thing, that you’re not pretty, that you’re not beautiful, that you’re not smart, that you’re not intelligent, you’re not a great catch. It just means that you guys weren’t meant to be. Almost every guy on the dating show was a great guy. But there were a couple times where I was like, ‘He’s not my person.’ I think that we need to get used to the fact that someone can say, ‘Hey, you’re amazing. You really are, but you’re just not my person’. And that’s OK.”
You don’t need anyone to feel happy
“Love yourself without a damn doubt – that’s the main trick of any date. You want to be happy, to be fulfilled. I’m questioning my place in the world as a woman. My parents got divorced when I was 2 and my mom never remarried. It is a choice. It was amazing to me to grow up with a role model, a woman who is like a career powerhouse and who is completely happy without a man, that showed me you can be completely controlled by yourself. You don’t need your partner.
What I do with my confidence coaching is I make my clients realize that they have the power to make whatever they want in their life happen and they really do. And they start to believe in themselves, really believe in self. I give them actionable steps to get there. But you have to love yourself first. If not, you’re not going to be happy in life. So, one secret is loving yourself.”