Dating in a time when it is considered healthy to stay a minimum of six feet away from people is a unique challenge unto itself. Not that it wasn’t difficult enough to strike up a conversation with a stranger or even meet someone before the pandemic. In fact, my neighbor last weekend said she hasn’t been on a date with anyone in months because it was too difficult to meet before for the pandemic, so why bother trying during the pandemic?
Look, dating is difficult. If it were 1950, it would be different for a host of different reasons. From my perspective, there are two reasons it is uniquely difficult to day now (sans pandemic): the paradox of choice and no accountability.
First, no one hits on each other IRL (in real life- those of you like me to do not speak or think in shorthand text messages) so you are forced to get online. If you can make the jump and actually commit to a dating app – though many people seem to be using multiple platforms – there are too many options. So if you match with someone who is uber responsive… “NEXT!” The paradox of choice essentially comes down to the fact that when our brain only has 2-3 options, it can make a good choice. But when it has a seemly bottomless well of choices, your brain freaks out and becomes paralyzed. Which means that forging a real connection on one of these apps is so much more difficult.
When our worlds were much smaller (before the internet), we were mostly limited to our networks for potential dating candidates; work, school, church and other social groups were typically how people met one another. Which meant there was not a lot of choice but also that there was a much greater chance that the person I am meeting/courting knows someone else in my life and that would keep both parties more accountable…. Meaning people were not nearly as inclined to ghost or flake on people because our community/social network would keep us accountable.
Dating is difficult
Duh!! What in your life are you proud of that wasn’t difficult? Think about it, I’ll wait. Yes, dating will make you vulnerable and uncomfortable and if you don’t want to do it – don’t. No judgment. But make that choice from a self-love and empowered place not a place of exhaustion and self-pity. If you need a break, take one but do not just blame it on the internet.
For the safety of women, I sincerely hope that the virtual first date becomes the new normal!!! Not to mention the fringe benefits for dudes! Guys, how many of you get annoyed that you have to pay for the first date? You can be honest, it’s just me. The virtual first date means you will never again show up to meet a new person to learn that you were catfished, it means that you will never again be waiting awkwardly outside while the other person is (quite rudely) late and wondering if they will bother to show up, it means not feeling like you have shell out money just to meet someone new and it means that a woman doesn’t have to risk her personal safety to meet a man she doesn’t know. Ummm, YES!!!
Everyone is handling distancing differently
Yup! Which gives all of us a unique opportunity to talk about our needs and boundaries. If you are a healthcare worker/first responder, someone with a health concern or caring for someone with a health concern you can still date. It does mean that you will have to ask for you what need and then be willing to be a little creative with how and maybe even when you connect.
One of my clients sent me THIS article about a couple in LA who met online during the stay at home orders and they are thinking about of the box and actually enjoying it. It reads like an old fashion courtship and I think it sounds lovely.
Different isn’t bad
While we are on the subject about how people are handling this all differently, can we take a minute to remember to reserve judgment? No one situation is the same and none of us have access to magical information that allows us to see into the future and know exactly what could have/should have been done. Just like with every other situation in life, can we please agree that your job is to figure out what works for you and everyone else needs to figure out what works for them?
If you feel clear and good about what you are doing to social distance, awesome! Do that and communicate to other people so they can respect it. If someone doesn't respect it, guess what! They won't respect your other boundaries so thank them for letting you know who they are at the gate!
Loneliness is real
Most of us have had the luxury of taking the passive presence of others for granted. Remember when you looked forward to just being by yourself?! It's ok to admit that suddenly being alone all the time is difficult. And as the video below points out, that loneliness looks different for different people.
As she Perel said, there are a lot of different ways to connect to people. There is a new group starting up in the Austin area in June that will begin virtual but ultimately beginning meeting monthly in person. The point of the CRUSH group is to bring together singles who are health and well-being minded who want to support each other while they all look for partnership.
As always, I’m here. If you are ready to work on having the life you want, call me and let’s get started!