I have been single over a year now and there’s nothing like being ready to date, only to be thrust into a global pandemic, to thwart your progress. I chat with many of my single friends and they lament not being able to go on dates and meet people, held back by the constraints of physical distancing rules and curfews. All the typical things we associate with dating and being single seem to be lost, but I have a different perspective on the impact of Covid-19, on my own dating life. Sure, those things are wonderful, but they don’t always lead to connection. For me, connection has become the most important thing in a relationship. I’m not talking about chemistry, either. I’ve shared plenty of chemistry with people, while still not sharing intimacy or connection. I’m talking about genuine connection. The kind where someone allows themselves to be vulnerable with you and wants to share their secrets. The kind where you feel seen, the kind where they know your favorite beverage and always have it ready for you, and know they are genuinely interested to understand why “a pirate smile makes you cry.”
So, how is a global pandemic making dating easier ? Well, with physical distancing being the new norm, we have no choice but to lean into actual conversations, get to know each other and gasp, talk to someone on the phone. Here are a few ways COVID may be the best thing that happened to your dating life.
We have been forced to slow down. In some cases, you can barely leave the house to date, let alone meet up for Margarita Mondays, only to later tumble out of bed with the taste of last night’s tacos and regret, on your tongue. We have been given the gift of time to get to know each other. We have the opportunity to converse, learn the favorite color, least favorite smell and happiest moments of our potential future partners. We have time to ask questions and have discussions, beyond the small talk of weather and work. We now have an excuse (in case you needed one) to wait for that first kiss, and allow all the juicy tension to build between you, before moving into the physical world. This is our chance to really get to know someone before crossing those lines that blur, instead of creating true connection, first.
We could not have imagined a better catalyst to learn more creative dating techniques. In a world where we cannot leverage all the old standbys we normally relied upon to survive a first date, we have to be present, on a camera, without all the other first date crutches. Anyone up for cooking dinner together on Facetime or taking someone to a “Houseparty” to meet your crazy crew? How about a “travel date” sharing your dream vacation ideas by way of Zoom backgrounds? We are only limited by our own imaginations, and when we can safely emerge from the cocoons of our homes, the face to face moments will be that much more special. Virtual dating also requires us to care more; especially, when we are trying to get to know someone. We can’t hide behind fancy restaurants or rooftop bar views to impress someone, so we have to lean on our wits, humor and creativity to keep things interesting and woo our potential partners, through a screen. This goes for any gender identity, too, as I don’t feel it is the responsibility of a particular gender identity to provide this. Don’t get me wrong, I was the baby of a “Boomer,” so I love to be wooed, but I also appreciate the art of wooing, as well.
One of my favorite things about the new dating world is the return of the phone date. So many daters are content texting and exchanging notes, but that doesn’t work for me and I’m quick to bring things IRL. I don’t believe we can build connection, without the nuance of all the things that make us so deliciously human. Today, I heard a busy signal, trying to phone a friend, and I was instantly transported to Junior High, laying on the floor of my Dad’s office. There was a beautiful nostalgia that my made my heart flutter and leap. I recently dated someone who enjoyed talking on the phone and that was one of my favorite things about him. He would call me randomly and I reveled in that little dopamine spike, when I saw his profile picture pop on the screen. Dolefully, it didn’t work out, but I was grateful to revisit that simple pleasure. There is so much you can learn about someone just by their voice. For me, it’s almost as powerful as body language. What does someone sound like when they are excited or sleepy or happy? What can you learn about someone just by understanding the timbre, language or speed of someone’s speech? We can connect to people in so many different ways and sound is high on my list.
Ultimately, these are all good things we can take from our collective Covid experience. This “great adaptation,” provides us a break from our old paradigms and allows for the joys of getting to know someone in a simpler way. It presents the chance to slow down, learn what makes each other tick, and what does and doesn’t work for us, with a much lower overall investment. Sure, many of us have more time on our hands without the commitment of commutes and Friday night cocktails with friends, but we don’t have to fill it with experiences we don’t enjoy. We can use this time to learn what resonates for us and builds connection, so when we do venture out again, we are more thoughtful, have healthier boundaries to determine whether or not, someone is worth the risk of catching Corona, or if you would rather serenade your dog “To Me” by Alina Baraz, on repeat. (For the record, my dog has heard me sing this song at least 100 times.)
Wishing all my fellow beings out there successful dating, love and deeper connections.