We are navigating unknown waters with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting every aspect of life. With social distancing being the “new normal” for the foreseeable future, you might wonder “what does that mean for dating”? Perhaps “online dating” will take on a whole new meaning as we create new rituals around courtship.
But, dating doesn’t have to be completely on hold during this time, it just needs to morph and evolve into something new. Much like you’ve seen with workplaces moving to remote structure and schools considering online learning, dating too can be reimagined. In this post, we’ll dive more into this topic and examine ways you can use this time of social distancing to create meaningful dating connections.
If you’ve been online dating, much of the way you initially interact with potential dates isn’t going to change. Connecting over profiles, checking out each other on social media, texting, and the old school but oh-so-effective dating tradition of talking on the phone will be unaffected by the coronavirus. In fact, more people are likely turning to online dating now, so the online dating pool is bigger than ever. If you are building a solid foundation and looking for long-term connection, the phase of this initial connection might take a week or two.
If you generally meet people through friends, that also doesn’t have to stop. People suddenly have more time and single people will long for connection during this time, more than ever. Continue to ask your friends to introduce you to their single friends. Use Facebook as a way to find mutual friends who are single and seem aligned with your lifestyle, and ask your mutual friend to introduce you. You don’t have to be set up at a party, and there are a variety of ways to create meaningful introductions.
When the time is right for what might have previously been an in-person date, consider a video call. Use Facetime, Zoom, or Google Meet to make a more meaningful connection, which allows you to see body language and mannerisms. You could even go so far as to create a virtual happy hour or coffee date and each brings your own favorite beverage. As a third or fourth date idea, try cooking the same recipe for dinner together and then compare outcomes and talk over dinner in your individual places. Bonus: You’ll also get a sneak peek of their home in the background and maybe get to “meet” their pets right away!
Have a few video dates so that you can get a solid sense of whether this person seems aligned with your values. Despite having more time and a greater longing for social connection, resist the urge to be available all throughout the day for video chat, though. Keep healthy boundaries and plan these video dates just like you would any other dates. Look forward to them, make them focused and intentional, and cap them at a couple of hours max, just like you would a regular date. Avoid the urge to spend hours on the phone or even escalate these chats to video or phone sex out of boredom or because you are feeling desperate for connection.
Get creative too! Can you go on a video date without talking about coronavirus? Can you play a “get to know you” game where you each ask each other questions ranging from “what’s your favorite color” to “what’s your greatest fear”? Couples therapists John and Julie Gottman have a wonderful app for exactly this, called the Gottman Love Map app, which you can download for free. Take a virtual museum tour together - for which there are so many available right now - by screen sharing the experience. Get creative to keep your time together engaging.
When you feel a solid connection after a few video dates, what’s next? One of the only activities we can enjoy outside the home (at the time this post was written) is hiking, walking, or going to a park (without touching the jungle gym). Consider taking a walk or hike together, individually, with your camera phones on. Pause to show one another things that inspire you or catch your eye. Go to a place you love and share it with your partner on video. And, when things begin to calm down, do an outdoor activity together where you are both breathing fresh air at a safe distance and away from crowds and people. Perhaps even consider picking up take out and eating at a park. But, don’t forget to keep healthy personal space boundaries and avoid going to each other’s homes too soon, just as you normally would when dating.
The good news about this “new normal” is that it forces us to slow down, and that applies to dating too. Reaching milestones more slowly and intentionally, along with keeping a positive mindset, generally leads to more long-term dating success. Quarantine and social distancing doesn’t mean no dating, it just means new dating. Be open-minded to trying something new at this interesting time in the world. Furthermore, building a connection during this historical time could be a very unique experience.
Center for Shared Insight remains open virtually during this time. Our therapists are here to help you sort through the challenges posed by COVID-19 - including perceived dating and relationship obstacles. If you'd like to meet with one of our therapists for a video session or phone call through our secure telehealth platform, please reach via our website for an initial intake.