I know, I know–you’ve been waiting for things to “get back to normal” so you could finally start looking for your next great love. Perhaps you tried to date during the pandemic and although some folks undoubtedly found love, the amount of effort required to date in such a strange time likely hasn’t returned nearly as many dates as before.
If you didn’t find love, I might be the only dating coach around to say it’s probably a GOOD thing. Building a relationship during a time where people’s usual lifestyle is so radically different from how it will be the bulk of the relationship is akin to coupling up on a season of the Bachelor. If you’ve ever watched the show, as magnificent as those relationships all look onscreen, we know statistically, they almost always fail post-production. Why? Because when the couple leaves the paradise the show created and tries to dive back into their REAL lives with its own demands and activities, they very often don’t fit as well into each other’s lives as they had hoped. I have a feeling a lot of pandemic-born relationships will suffer a similar fate once they resume work at the office, have friends they want to see and things they want to do again that divert attention away from their new love.
Recently, I was leading a group discussion for my Facebook group on some of the new data OkCupid has learned about pandemic dating and the topic came up about re-emerging. Bouncing off that discussion, I’ve come up with seven reasons why it might be worthwhile to wait a few months before diving back into the dating pool.
You’re a New Version of Yourself.
If you’ve not “felt yourself” at times this past year, you are not alone. There are whole parts of yourself, particularly in relating to others, that have been used in a whole new way, like ‘zoom” becoming one of the most used words in your vocabulary, or not at all, because video chatting with all its good, it’s still strange AF. You’ve likely discovered new things about yourself during this quieter time and once re-emerged, you’ll get to decide how much of that is a new you or was just a temporary coping skill.
You’ve been through Collective Trauma and so has Everyone Else you meet.
Go ahead and anticipate those first few dates are likely to be awkward. This experience has changed all of us. Time will be marked by “before the pandemic,” “during the pandemic,” or “after the pandemic ended” the same way we’ve used other personal grief and life events to mark time. On a positive note, this will be a universal point of connection and conversation as we share how it brought out the best and worst in ourselves and communities and give us important information about potential new partners.
Your Interpersonal Skills are Rusty.
I’ve heard many people say they feel their conversation skills are not quite as well-tuned as they used to be, but once we are socializing in person again, they should easily tune back up. Those relational parts of us will need reconnection and our emotional muscles need to be exercised again. Dating and finding connection, especially with a stranger we’ve met online or met at an event is hard enough, so it would behoove us to practice reconnecting with our friends before going on a string of first dates.
Your Schedule is Not Quite Like it was Before.
We would be wise to anticipate that getting back to our old social and work lives is going to CREATE good feelings and energy, but it’s also going to TAKE a lot more energy at first, so our “new norm” and schedule is going to take a bit to figure out. One of the exercises I have my clients do is to fill out a weekly calendar to make sure they are creating time to really get to know someone in a way that builds a lasting relationship. When finding love is a priority, we will make time for it. However, I imagine as we re-emerge, we are going to be like a kid in a candy store and wanting to do ALL THE THINGS we’ve been missing. If that is true, it will be a struggle to give the intention and energy required to build the foundation your new relationship deserves.
You Found Your Independence
My clients are mostly third-quarter singles (50-75) and one thing I am frequently hearing is they always had a story that it would be too hard to be alone, but I’m also starting to hear the pandemic proved them wrong. Out of necessity they’ve learned to cook, make repairs, garden, acquired solo hobbies and keep themselves entertained, and they enjoyed it. There were still lonely days, but some found it changed the type of relationship they want; instead of marriage and cohabitation they like the idea of living alone while in a committed partnership. Before dating again, you have the opportunity not only to work on your relating skills, but also decide what kind of partnership will work for YOU.
You’re Wearing Pandemic-Goggles.
You know the old beer goggles joke–after so many beers anyone at the bar looks good? I think as we emerge, we might subconsciously be wearing Pandemic goggles. It’s quite possible most of our emotional tanks are running on fumes, which means anyone walking by with a few drops of fuel will look FAR better to you than they would have when your tank was fuller. Other folks will find their pandemic goggles are playing different tricks on them, and because they’re so out of practice, they will be questioning if that really IS fuel in the other can and have a hard time trusting.
Dating Will be SLOWER.
Once you do decide it’s time to get back out there, dating experts and platforms are predicting that it will likely be a much slower pace than the speed it was pre-pandemic. Recent data shows us that more people than ever are looking for meaningful relationships over casual ones while reevaluating the things that are most important to them, which means there will be a shift to quality over quantity. I think this is the best news of all! We will finally see more folks dating with intention and investment, which means after all this pandemic dust has settled, more of us get to find our next great love.