Dating After COVID

When COVID-19 hit, many of us found ourselves reshaping how we engage in relationships with others. In order to stay connected, we relied heavily on video communication and sometimes plain old phone calls more than ever. We waved at each other from sidewalks and doorways. We sat 6 feet away from each other in lawn chairs and on top of blankets in outdoor spaces. It was an unprecedented way of navigating relationships of all dynamics.


For many of us that were seeking new connections, we were forced to move much more slowly than we might have otherwise. We turned to dating apps and other online communities to meet each other. Instead of texting each other for a couple of days, we found texting to be the primary form of communication for weeks if not months. We were more likely to meet for the first time over video in the comfort (and safety) of our homes. For some, this made them feel less vulnerable and for others, it made them feel more. If we decided to meet with a person, not only did we carry all those feelings that come along with meeting someone new, COVID anxiety also came along for the ride. Casual dating was not so casual anymore. A year in and the corona-coaster continued and restrictions loosened and then tightened. It necessitated us to have often difficult conversations on how to navigate these burgeoning relationships moving forward.


Now we are taking steps towards normalcy as communities are opening up and masking mandates are lifting. For some, they found that instead of feeling excited about the prospect of being able to move back towards the type of dating you were engaging with prior to COVID, they were dreading it. For those whose relationships were established and sustained through the worst of the pandemic, there was a new awareness that there are a lot more unknowns than you anticipate. It is a year in and you haven’t met their family or other partners. How do they treat hospitality workers? What is it like to travel with them?


You are realizing that returning to normalcy is not quite as exciting or simple as you thought it would be. And you know what? That is okay. It makes so much sense if you are feeling confused, apprehensive, and vulnerable.


Here are some tips the remember moving forward:


  1. Take it slow – The impulse may be to jump right back into the dating status quo, but it is more than okay to do this slowly.  Go at your own pace that feels right for you. We have spent much of the past few years being cautious about who we are seeing and of the physical spaces that we are seeing them in. It may take awhile for our brains to process that this level of vigilance is no longer needed.
  2. Remember that others are feeling the same way as you – All of us were, and continue to be, impacted by the pandemic in one way or another, some of which we may not even be cognizant of. You are not the only one that is experiencing such strong, sometimes unexpected emotions.
  3. Be gentle with yourself – Sometimes we are not able to move through these emotions as quickly as we like. When you feel frustrated with yourself (and others) remember, we are all unlearning a way of being and that can be pretty damn hard.
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Hi, I’m Natalie Delfin, therapist for individuals and couples at Love Heal Grow Counseling.

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