Let’s be honest. Dating can be challenging even under normal circumstances, but during a pandemic, it can be extra tricky. Whether you’re just dipping your toes in the water or looking for a long-term relationship, here are a few tips to help you navigate dating in a pandemic.
#1: Figure out what you really want
The pandemic has made casual meet ups and dates more risky. While this can be frustrating, it also means we have the opportunity to be more selective about who we match with, talk to and eventually meet. In order to do this, it’s important to know what you’re looking for from dates or in a committed relationship.
Are you more interested in something brief and casual, casual but consistent or something more serious? Is physical attraction or companionship more important to you? Do you want to date someone with similar political views, aspirations, lifestyle, etc.? What does your ideal dating scenario or relationship look like? Thinking through these types of questions can help you get a better sense of what you really want.
If you're using dating apps, these questions can also help you tailor your profile and create filters. For instance, if you’re looking for something casual, you may want to consider filtering out people who are looking for a relationship or vice versa. Using these types of features and being honest about what you want allows you to set clear expectations and match with people who want similar things.
#2: Communicate and uphold your boundaries
COVID-19 has affected everyone differently, and we may have different levels of comfort when it comes to dating or meeting up. While many apps have added features to help gauge your comfort zone around the pandemic, it’s still important to communicate directly with your potential dates about what makes you feel safe and comfortable.
For instance, you may choose to meet through video before committing to an in-person date, or you may want to ensure your date is okay wearing a mask and sticking to physically distanced activities. Be honest about your expectations, and trust your gut. If someone dismisses your boundaries or pushes you to do something you’re not comfortable with, they’re probably not a good fit.
#3: Embrace authenticity and connection
As humans, we’re hardwired to seek out clarity, safety and stability in our relationships. However, modern dating culture often emphasizes more casual interactions and low accountability. We may feel pressured to play it cool, be chill, minimize what we want/need or avoid committing too early. Ultimately, these dating norms and expectations can cause increased anxiety and uncertainty in our relationships.
One way to combat this is to intentionally embrace authenticity and connection. Allow your true self to shine through, whether you’re dating online or in person. Build a profile that reflects who you really are. Don’t be afraid to showcase your personality through your photos, questionnaires or bio! Staying true to your authentic self can also help you be more open to making meaningful connections. Seek out people who have shared interests, appreciate your quirks and allow you to be yourself. It’s also important to remember that you can take your time. Dating in a pandemic is a slow dance. Try to enjoy it, and use it as an opportunity to get to know other people (and yourself).
#4: Stay healthy
The rules for socializing have changed significantly over the past year, and this can leave us feeling anxious to go out in person. If you’re concerned about the health risks, consider sticking to virtual options or try some of these physically distanced date ideas:
Whatever you end up doing, remember to wear a face covering, wash your hands and check public health guidelines before making plans. It’s also important to remember that your dating life can have an impact on the people around you, including those you live with. Take some time to talk with them and make a plan ahead of time to keep everyone safe.