Q: Many of my single friends and I, women and men, are bursting with the need to start dating again in real life, not just online.
We’ve been careful, masked, distanced and trying to “stay safe” for so long that some are losing hope.
We worry that, even if fully vaccinated, people will find it hard to get close enough to see if there’s real interest on both sides in seeing if dating can lead to a relationship.
Some of us who used to swipe for sex hookups will never go there again. We want more. But we fear there’ll still be a lot of people on dating apps who just want to get physical again. What’s your advice as the pandemic eases up?
Restless But Cautious
A: Dating apps have been trying to adapt to the pandemic throughout. Say Allo, for example, introduced postponing visual contact by using a “blurred” photo during several exchanges of messages to see if there’s common interests.
Hinge, calling itself a matching site, offers “hybrid” dating: i.e., users see six photos, answer questions about themselves. If someone expresses interest, that’s a match. Several days of chatting is recommended before an in-person date.
DeeperDating.com offers skills training to help achieve emotional safety and deeper connections.
Beyond these commercial promotions are some actual dating specialists and coaches, such as San Francisco-based Logan Ury. Besides being Hinge’s director of relationship science, she has over 10,000 followers on her own.
A Harvard psychology graduate, she next ran Google’s behavioural science team — called the Irrational Lab. And she just published a book: “How to Not Die Alone.”
The matter-of-fact title is typical of Ury’s whole approach to dating, which she applies to questions like yours, whether through an app or on your own: “You’re headed on a path (whether in a relationship or single). But if it’s not the path you want, check in with yourself about where you’re heading. Because if you have behaviour patterns holding you back, nothing will change.”
Her motto, “Find a partner, not a pen pal,” also applies to so many people who write me about so-called “relationships” that are actually just constant messaging. “They create a fantasy in their head about it being a relationship.”
Another helpful motto: “DTR” or “define the relationship.” Meaning: “We make assumptions that we are surely in an exclusive relationship. But if there’s no conversation about it, if you’re afraid of the answer, you may be on the same page, or not. In that case, find out now.”
Ury has written in the New York Times’ “Modern Love” section about her own relationship — a seven-year Facebook friend from her undergraduate years whom she met again when working at Google, became friends in person … and married him without an app or dating site.
No, I haven’t forgotten the reader’s question. One last Ury acronym is FODA — fear of dating again. Those who are feeling it are not alone. You’ve been locked up one way or another for some 15 months.
My advice — take time right now to consider what you’re really seeking from dating. You’re not the same as you were, before you had to protect yourself and others from trusting strangers and physical contact.
Know your goals now and the values that you hold dear. Be proud and comfortable about who you are and what you bring to a future relationship.
Then, whether meeting new or familiar people at interest or chat groups or dating apps, give yourself and dating in real life a real chance.
Ellie’s tip of the day
Dating successfully calls for knowing yourself first.
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