By Lisa Chimes, PsyD
For those who are single and looking to date, this past year has been particularly stressful. In addition to long seasons of loneliness, the option of dating the “traditional way” is now out of the question for many people, due to health and safety reasons. Some have stopped dating all together. Others have taken on the challenge of navigating a new and evolving dating world that is both unfamiliar and terrifying. The variety of dating activities and new experiences are limited, and there are added safety considerations and calculations for any in-person activity.
Despite these challenges, there are some silver linings:
- Since there are fewer opportunities to date during a pandemic, prescreening plays a larger role. Casual first dates that would have been a quick coffee or a bite to eat, have now shifted to pre-meetup video chats where partners get to know each other while apart. This allows people to take it slower and get to know each other – often while in the safe and warm environment of one’s home.
- A stronger level of trust is needed to do just about anything together now, including meeting up for the first time. In this context, longs talks on the phone and getting to know one other while not in person has made a comeback. This is a concept that a younger generation of singles tend to be less familiar with, and it can lead to more successful dates and greater emotional connection.
- More time is spent before a date, prioritizing what is important and who is important. When dating, people tend to be more mindful about what they’re looking for and what they’re avoiding. They also tend to give fewer chances to dates that don’t fall in their romantic range, which allows for quicker decisions to either “pursue it or dump it”.
- Upfront transparency has also made a comeback, with the notion to “not waste anyone’s time” – and heavier topics of commitment and relationship goals are brought up and discussed much sooner.
While many singles are ready to just get out there and date again, many hope these silver linings are here to stay. Some of these aspects of dating have long been missing, and stand to enhance our relationships in novel ways.
Here are a few practical tips to make the most of dating during a pandemic:
- Before you date, think about your priorities and what you are (and are not) looking for.
- Accept that in-person dating is limited, and make the most of the opportunity to slow down and learn about your date by phone or video chat.
- When the time comes to meet in person, stay healthy by dating outdoors whenever practical.
- Clearly communicate and stick to your boundaries about COVID-19, especially when it comes to your sense of safety and comfort on a date.
- Continue to remain social and in touch with friends and family who can provide an ongoing connection and support.