Dating Post Covid
Are you having nervous jitters about dating in person again? Should you still be talking about COVID experiences after quarantines have lifted? Would talking about the pandemic make you feel better or suck the romance right out of your first date?
Imagine yourself sitting at a crowded bar without a face covering and your date has just sat down beside you. For both of you, it’s the first in-person date you’ve been on since the pandemic began. What on earth are you going to talk about?
Well, the obvious elephant in the room is the COVID-19 pandemic. It has dominated discussion on social media and pop culture mainly because it’s a topic that affected everyone in some shape, form or fashion. Whether you were personally infected or not, you were certainly affected by COVID-19. Everyone has an opinion about it.
Yet, talking about the pandemic might not bring you closer to closing the deal. Although it’s an experience that both parties share, talking about how you coped with the pandemic just puts a negative cloud over your first date forays.
Should it be avoided all together?
Post Pandemic Dating Advice from an Expert
In May of this year, The Atlantic published a rare interview with Dr. Ruth K. Westheimer, the 93 year old sex therapist. She gave some optimistic advice and a few wise warnings about seeking love after the pandemic.
When asked whether this would be a good time to start dating again, Dr. Ruth responded “Definitely, single people should say, ‘Okay, the time has come for me to find myself a partner.’” However, Dr. Ruth wasn’t endorsing any discussion about the pandemic for new couples or people on first dates.
When it came to the subject of the pandemic, Dr. Ruth suggested that people “Stop constantly talking about how difficult it was! We all know that. Period. My advice is: When you talk on the phone, find something before you pick up the phone – something positive – that you can discuss. Because all of this -how terrible it was, and how upset, and how lonely – is not going to help you.”
Her final tip on dating after the pandemic was to be cautious. “Yes, go out, try to find a partner. But don’t hop into bed just because you didn’t have sex for a year and a half.”
Related: Finding Romance Behind a Facemask
What Real Guys Have to Say About Dating After COVID
We spoke with a few single men who have mixed emotions about getting back into the dating pool. They agreed to have their stories shared for this article as long as their identities were concealed. You might identify with some of their thoughts and feelings when it comes to person-to-person dating in a post-COVID society.
Jeremy is 29 years old and he says that “he’s been preparing for lockdown to be over” so that he can start dating again. When we spoke, Jeremy had been single for about 6 months. His relationship ended mid-pandemic. “I don’t know if I even know how to talk to a girl in real life anymore. It’ll be interesting, like when you were in high school. When do I make the first move? Is it okay to touch her? All that stuff.”
Matt is 34 and he’s not so eager about dating again. He lost a close family member to COVID-19 and Matt said, “I feel like COVID is the only thing that’s happening in the world right now because it’s everything in my life.” He wants to meet someone and have a relationship but worries that he won’t be ready when the time comes. “I want to meet a guy and fall in love and all that stuff, but I’m just in such a negative, pessimistic head space. I’ll probably just mess it all up.”
Lastly, we spoke with a younger single man named Victor. He just celebrated his 21st birthday and can’t wait for the “hook-up summer” as he puts it. When asked if the pandemic will be a topic of discussion, Victor responded. “Hell no, I just want to get on a plane and go somewhere and have some fun. Nobody wants to talk about cough cough COVID anymore.”
These responses certainly reveal the assortment of opinions about dating after lockdowns are lifted. As more people get vaccinated and infection rates diminish, people will start to mingle and hookup again in the real world.
Jeremy, who recently became single, feels the urge to date again, but has anxiety about the reality of dating. After being instructed to social distance for the better part of 15 months, dating might feel a bit awkward. Certain romantic cues involving closeness and intimacy might have to be relearned. For some, this can be a refreshing experience, as if they’re reliving the exploration phase of a teenaged romance.
Then, there’s Matt who has suffered a loss in his family due to the pandemic. He can’t imagine how he’ll be able to put all of the trauma behind him and ignore the obvious suffering that he’s endured. The cloud of negativity isn’t easily lifted, but the desire to be in a relationship is something that he can’t ignore either. He’ll have to make clear distinctions between his past, his present, and his future.
Perhaps, Generation Z will prove to be the most resilient to this time in history. Victor is ready to throw caution to the wind and enjoy life again. It’s doubtful that he’ll be talking about the pandemic during his hook-up summer. Perhaps, he’d be wise to follow Dr. Ruth’s advice and take it slow.
How to Talk About the Pandemic While You’re Dating
Is it wise to pretend it never happened? Well, if you think back to the dating scene before the pandemic, then you’ll probably remember that a positive attitude has always been helpful. When you’re seeking to build connections with new people, especially romantic connections, positive interactions will increase the likelihood of the relationship blossoming into something much deeper and more meaningful.
Talking about negative experiences can be helpful in certain situations. Of course, you should speak to a counsellor or therapist if your mental health is suffering. Just keep in mind that your crush is not your therapist. So, the key is to know how to frame the experience so that you both can grow from it.
A study published by The American Psychological Association in 2019 determined that there are good and bad ways to discuss negative experiences. When people talk to each other about negative experiences in a way that simply recounts and rehashes the past, then those discussions tend to make matters worse. When two people talk about negative experiences in a way that puts it in a broader perspective, then those discussions tend to result in positive outcomes.
So, it’s okay to talk about the pandemic while you’re dating. However, you should avoid reliving the dark times as a way to connect with someone. Everybody went through the bad experience in some way, but you should only discuss it if you can reframe your experience into a positive outlook on life.
As Dr. Ruth suggested, it’s better to find something positive to talk about when dating after the pandemic. That might take a bit of forethought on your part, an extra step before you send a text or meet up for drinks, but you can do it.
If your partner falls into the pattern of rehashing negative COVID experiences, then try to steer the conversation in a different direction. Help them to see the brighter days ahead and you’ll both rediscover the joys of dating again.
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