As if dating isn’t daunting enough, let’s add a pandemic to the mix. Thanks, universe.
When the world went on lockdown, it became painfully obvious how single I was. Everyone I knew had formed their quaranteam with family or significant others, and I was left to fend for myself in a small 900 square foot apartment, alone. Quality time is my love language, so things got lonely, and they got lonely quick. It made me realize how much I actually enjoyed the company of dates (even though I complain about dating on a daily basis). It’s not so much about the attention, or meeting different guys, but more so about the pursuit of finding my person. I know that the more dates I go on, the closer I am to finding “the one”. It was hard for me to put all of that on hold.
As you can imagine, dating during COVID has been wild. I didn’t even open my dating apps for the better half of spring because it seemed pointless. I was taking the shelter in place order very seriously, and a virtual date was not appealing to me. I like face time, not FaceTime. In June, when outdoor dining started to open back up in California I started to warm up to the idea of dating again. Of course, the dating game had changed a bit.
Here are the do’s and don’ts of dating in 2020, according to me (a self-declared expert).
Do go on a date if it feels right. Don’t let corona keep you down. If you meet someone and want to see where things could go, then go. Wear a mask, do what you need to do to feel safe about it, but go. Dating isn’t cancelled.
Don’t let them convince you “Netflix & chill” is your only option. Know your worth. Don’t let guys use the pandemic as an excuse to “Netflix & chill”. One guy kept saying, “I’m so over the pandemic, I wish places were open so I could take you on a real date.” News flash: they are, and you can. He got the boot real quick— I’m not about the Netflix & chill life.
Do think outside the box. If you’re not totally comfortable going out in public, or your restaurants and bars are closed, think outside the box. Go for a walk on the beach or pack a picnic for the two of you to enjoy in a local park. Planning a creative date can be cute if you do it right.
Don’t beat yourself up if your dating life is on hold. Nothing about 2020 is normal, don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t been on a date all year. Your self-proclaimed timeline can wait. Focus on your mental health and well-being, and the dating will resume when you’re ready.
Do be open to the idea of better communication. If 2020 has taught me one thing (other than the importance of loungewear) it’s that communication is key. The pandemic has made me a lot more open to phone and video calls with friends, family, colleagues, or guys I’m interested in. Pre-pandemic I wouldn’t even answer phone calls from my roommate, but now I’m a lot more open to new avenues of communication.
Don’t kiss on the first date if you’re not feeling it. I never kiss on a first date (personal preference), but I’m especially cautious about it right now. If you don’t feel comfortable kissing a stranger whilst in the middle of a pandemic— or if you’re feeling it and decide to go for it—you do you. Do whatever you’re comfortable with, and do it unapologetically.
Do wear that outfit you’ve been dying to wear (even if you’re overdressed). We’ve all been cooped up for months, staring at clothes in our closet with nowhere to wear them to. Wear that dress you’ve been dying to wear— even if it feels too fancy for the restaurant— it deserves to be taken out (and so do you).
Don’t expect things to progress as quickly as they would have pre-pandemic. A lot of relationships have been expedited in quarantine, but some are moving slower, too. Don’t write people off if things aren’t progressing as quickly as you’d like. COVID has created a lot of moving pieces that might effect or contribute to how people are dating.
Do cut people a little extra slack. Show more grace— whether that’s regarding their weight, their timeliness for texting back, or their date-night venue selection. Dating looks different in 2020 and it’s important to acknowledge that and cut people some slack. The world is not at its prime right now, so you can’t expect your date to be either.
Don’t get consumed by loneliness and settle. Britney said it best, “my loneliness is killing me.” I get it, trust me— but don’t let the pandemic intensify those negative feelings and force you to settle. If you’re feeling especially lonely, go spend a week with your family, call a friend, or go for a walk with a neighbor. Just because the world shut down doesn’t mean you have to shut out all of your relationships. Single or not, you’re not alone.