Relephant read: Elephant’s Continually-updating Coronavirus Diary. ~ Waylon
Gone are the days of meeting your most recent, promising dating prospect at your favorite local bar–at least temporarily.
Recent developments to help control the spread of the Coronavirus have seen the closure of restaurants, bars, and any non-essential businesses, as well as mandated social distancing in many areas around the world. And with that, a lot of confusion and differing opinions about what the world of dating should or should not look like.
There’s no question that the landscape of dating has changed, at least for the present moment.
What’s a single girl (or guy) to do?
There’s good news! The era of social distancing and quarantine might actually be a really good thing for your dating game.
Social Distancing Might Be the Permission You Needed to Take a Break
For many of us, the process of dating can come with an internal sense of pressure. You may feel like you’re “supposed” to be dating because you haven’t found a partner yet (cue all those comments from Auntie Can’t-mind-her-own-business about your lack of a love life every holiday). Perhaps you feel internal pressure to settle down or have kids by a certain age, or your sense of loneliness drives you to meet new people even when it might not be in your best interest.
Dating requires time, energy, and resources and it’s important to date intuitively, even when we aren’t experiencing a global pandemic. Dating intuitively is similar to eating intuitively. In part, it asks us to pay attention to our own internal cues to stop and start when it feels best for us. It’s okay to take a break from dating, in fact, I recommend it every once in a while. Use this time as an opportunity to take a break from seeking out new people and new connections and focus on yourself and your own needs. Use all of the time and energy you would normally spend swiping, chatting, and meeting up with new people to amp up your own self-care and self-love. You’ll come out of the quarantine with a renewed sense of self and feeling fantastic!
Social Distancing is an Opportunity to Practice Setting & Communicating Boundaries
Let’s be real–setting boundaries can be challenging. So many of us have wrapped our identities up in how much we’re doing for other people and an internal need for perfectionism and positive feedback driving us to say yes when we really mean no. In dating, that can look like agreeing to meet people before you’re ready, allowing a relationship to move more quickly than you’re really comfortable with, or giving up your own wants and needs for the approval or affection of another person.
If you’ve struggled with boundaries in the past, this can be a good time to practice setting and communicating boundaries that are coronavirus-specific. If you are continuing to use dating apps or chat with new connections, those boundaries can look like:
“I’m choosing to stay in and limit my contact with other people right now, but I’d love to use this time to talk and get to know each other better.”
“I’d love to make plans to meet when it’s safe for all of us, but for now I’m up for chatting.”
“I don’t want to argue about how we should be responding to current events; I’m doing what feels safest for me.”
Communicating your limits, wants, and needs while backed by a legitimate global crisis can help you feel more comfortable doing so.
Let’s be clear: you don’t need a global pandemic to be completely justified in setting any boundaries at any time, but if you’re practicing a skill that’s usually challenging for you, it can be helpful. The key is to practice setting, communicating, and enforcing your social distancing boundaries so that you can be more comfortable setting other types of boundaries while dating and in your relationships when this is all over.
Observing Potential Dates Respond to a Crisis is Very Revealing
For the most part, the entire point of dating is to get to know people better so that you can narrow down your potential matches to one person who has mutually decided that they also would like to spend the rest of their life with you. Many people, however, struggle with the getting-to-know-others part of the equation, especially since it’s so easy for people to present an inauthentic version of themselves online.
One of the best ways to understand who a person really is to observe and interact with them in a variety of situations, environments, and contexts. You might feel like social distancing has put a damper on your ability to do exactly that—we’re all stuck at home, which doesn’t offer much variety. In reality, you’re getting the opportunity to observe how your potential matches are responding to a crisis situation—talk about gold standard intel!
As you continue to match, message, and interact with people during this time of social distancing (or even if you’ve found yourself quarantined with a new-ish partner), remember that the way people are responding to the situation at hand and the way they’re reacting to social distancing is giving you a vast amount of insight into who they are as a person and about their potential compatibility with you. Use this to your advantage! How you feel about another person’s crisis response or coping mechanisms during difficult circumstances is a fantastic litmus test for “could I spend my life with this person.”
Is your latest Tinder match pushing you to ignore social distancing and get together for a hookup? Did they spend the last week hoarding toilet paper and much-needed n-95 masks? Are they ignoring all suggested protocols and hanging on the beach for spring break? Those may be good indicators this person isn’t right for you—and what an opportunity to know in a short amount of time and without a lot of emotional investment.
*Remember, if he or she is genuinely interested in you, they’ll have a desire to meet your reasonable needs and honor your boundaries. They won’t pressure you to do something you don’t want to or something that is unsafe, and they absolutely will not respond to your boundaries with anger, shaming, or making fun.
Social Distancing Means You Get to Date Slow
The modern dating game is quick. We have near-infinite access to a huge number of people we may have never met in our pre-dating-app lives. In a normal week, we may match, chat, meet, get ghosted by, change our minds about, break up with, or sleep with any number of people. And taking things too slow can mean that the other person moves on or loses focus. In the era of social distancing, however, everyone and everything is naturally moving more slowly, including dating.
This is an opportunity to press the reset button on your love life and genuinely take your time getting to know people you connect with virtually.
Without the ordinary rush of timelines and having to meet quickly to establish a connection, you may find that you’re able to experience more clarity around who you’re actually interested in and who you aren’t. You may find there’s space and time to have conversations and create connections with others that feel more genuine. And, since we’re all in this together, you’ll also likely find that more people are available to converse and explore alternative ways to connect.
We are privileged to live in a time in which we have access to a global population of potential connections, friendships, and relationships literally at our fingertips. It is absolutely okay not to date during this time, but also know that you don’t have to stop just because we’re practicing social distancing. These unprecedented times can be a beautiful opportunity to create connections and have genuine, supportive conversations with other people. And having a great date to look forward to when all of this is finally over can be great too!
For more, check out some of Elephant’s most mindful, helpful COVID-19 articles:
How to Enjoy Life Amidst the Coronavirus Fear: Your Go-To Guide from Books to Podcasts & Wellness Practices.
What the Coronavirus is Teaching Me: 5 Lessons from Uncertain Times.
The Artist’s Stay-at-Home & Stay Sane Guide.
10 Simple Ways to Boost your Immunity without Leaving the House.