If you’re single, dating or at the beginning of something with a potential partner, social distancing can be uniquely frustrating. Yes, self-quarantining is the right choice for these times. Yes, you get to stay home and binge-watch Tiger King. But as you scroll through social media and see couples social distancing together, it’s hard not to feel lonely. And it’s also hard to find the point of firing up a dating app if you know there’s no way you can meet IRL for at least six weeks.
So should you press pause on your dating life, pull your adult toy of choice out of your drawer and hope that your love life picks up in summer? Not at all. Remember, everyone’s in the same boat, facing this scary, uncertain world. In some ways, meeting someone in this vulnerable time — messy apartment on full display in a Zoom chat, existential back-and-forths interspersed with flirty “what drink defines your personality” questions, swapping news story links — breaks down boundaries like nothing else, says Lisa Concepcion, a dating and relationship coach, and founder of Love Quest Dating.
People who are into each other can come out of this strong.
Lisa Concepcion, dating and relationship coach
Also? It’s not as if this is novel — romances have been built on anticipation. “Back before the internet couples wrote love letters to one another during wars! Marriages stayed together and children were born with letters bringing the news. We have video cameras and the internet,” reminds Concepcion. “People who are into each other can come out of this strong.” Here are some tips on how to keep your dating life moving forward — even when the rest of the world feels like it’s on hold.
Start With Your Social Circle
Melissa Stewart, a yoga instructor in Los Angeles, realized that many of her friends were single — and complaining to her about the slowdown in their dating life. Stewart created a Google form for her single friends to complete about their ideal date, and invited them to share the form with their single friends. Then, she began compiling and comparing the forms, setting up blind dates between participants. So far, some couples have had multiple virtual hangouts, says Stewart. “I think there’s always a little bit of a stigma against asking for set-ups, but now, social distancing had added a novelty component. It’s not embarrassing because people think, well, what else do I have to do? There’s not this feeling that being set up is lame.”
Have an invite to a Google hangout karaoke party? A Netflix watch event? A Zoom happy hour glow ball soirée? RSVP yes if it sounds remotely interesting. It’s the same principle as in real-life events — the more you get out there, the more likely you are to meet someone. Yes, it’s easier to hang out solo, but showing up to virtual events will keep your social skills strong.
Another option: Quarantine Together is a new app that introduces singles and encourages virtual meets. Of course, Quarantine Together joins OG dating apps like Bumble and Tinder, but the point is that quarantine is a great time to shake things up. Even if you’re “not an app person,” what do you have to lose but a few minutes?
That said, if your virtual hangout calendar is overloaded, it’s also OK to turn down invites and take some time to focus on you. “This self-isolation has forced people to look inward” and ask themselves the “bigger questions,” Concepcion says. So if you’re in a romantic situation you’re unsure about, think of this as a time to press pause and assess the situation. “Never make relationship decisions from a place of fear,” reminds Concepcion.
Have a Plan in Place
Going on a “date?” The couch won’t cut it. Have a rough itinerary, whether it’s drinking a glass of wine and chatting for 30 minutes, watching a movie together or playing a board game. Phone sex is also on the table — just make sure you trust the other person isn’t screenshotting or video-recording. Concepcion says the more you bring dating energy to your virtual hangout — dress up, use silverware, sit at the table instead of a sofa — the better it will be for both of you.
You also may want to advance your Tinder timeline, and get someone on FaceTime after just a few texts back and forth. That way, you won’t waste each other’s time or get caught in an endless back-and-forth volley of texts.
And if you are dating and want to keep the spark alive? Consider sending surprise deliveries and packages to each other. Another option: Start a private Instagram account that only the two of you have the password to and upload pictures each day that remind you of each other. Start and add to a Spotify playlist together (or, if you’re really brave, swap Spotify passwords and see what they listen to in private mode). Send snail mail and add a drop of your signature perfume or cologne to the paper. Read a chapter of a book to each other on the phone. Feeling frisky? Make it an erotica classic. The point: While touch is out, try to use your other senses to increase your connection.
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