Updated: Aug 23, 2021
With the full lockdown now lifted and the summer vibes coming, the focus has turned to dating. The effects of the pandemic impacted on so many lives in so many different ways, with many of us experiencing loss or near-to-it experiences, and a pause for thought has lead to reflection and evaluation on our lives. What do I really want from life? What am I doing with each and every day? What would I want to be doing if I knew my time was nearing it's end?
And through those reflections, we've had our epiphanies and realised what we really value in life, and for some of you, that decision is love and partnership.
I know some of you have already taken the advantage of the unlocking process taking place in the UK - but I also know that a number of you have been catching up with everyone else after such a long time apart. Back are the breakfast brunches, road trips to the beach and visiting friends in the garden, but dating might not have been the top of your list! Now, with summer officially on the horizon and fingers remaining crossed for all kinds of live events to go ahead, it seems like love might be back in the air for summer 2021.
And to help you prepare, here's 5 tips on how to navigate dating post-lockdown.
1. You are still a priority
Lockdown was an opportunity for many of us. Time was gained for a lot of us through the furlough scheme or just by gaining the time of a daily commute there and back. You were able to design your day to encompass a little bit more time for yourself, whether that was working out, reading or learning something new.
"Wellbeing" became the buzzword of the moment. Finding balance where you could and putting yourself first was all part of surviving this apocalyptic-style event, that we're still experiencing the effects of.
And that shouldn't change.
How did you feel when you found more time to yourself?
How much energy did you have when you started the day off with a reflection, meditation or journalling?
Maintaining time for yourself remains as important as making time to find your partner. It also means you'll show up as your best self, have interests to talk about, maybe even goals that you're working on to share and you'll have the space to deal with some of the tiresome feelings you get when dating.
2. Some things haven't changed...
The dating scene hasn't changed all that much in some respects. The apps are still the same, a lot of the people will be the same (there are some exceptions I'm sure, plus the potential influx of those who broke up during the lockdown, but for the most part, this has been a stagnant scene) and some of the people have also stayed the same.
This all means that you need to be wary of the things you should've been looking out for before. People aren't always on apps for the same reason as you, some people think they know what they want but in reality, it's different, some people have poor personalities, negative behaviours and are a big red flag. These all still exist so continue to keep your wits about you and don't invest in one single person too early!
3. And some things have!
The world is a different place now. COVID-19 has changed the world in which we live and though the world should be opening up and social distancing becomes a thing of the past, some people have spent a lot of time at home and won't necessarily have had their two-dose vaccines yet. Be aware that the COVID situation is still sensitive for some. This may impact on proximity, mask-wearing (which may have an impact on facial expression) and proximity, not to mention physical contact.
We are all on different points of our level of comfortability based on our experiences. You don't know what your potential dates have gone through in terms of the loss and illnesses of all those around them, so acting with respect and understanding is key to allowing your date to feel comfortable in this world.
And if you're the one that feels this way, don't be afraid to share that with your date. It is a good indicator for you if they can hold space for you and for the way they behave surrounding these feelings, whilst my next tip is the perfect way to get around this in the first instance!
4. Fancy a zoom?
Next is my favourite adaptation of lockdown, and that was the pre-date video call. This was the only real way to have any kind of date during lockdown. You might've tried a speed dating event, or just used the feature on the Bumble app but this was perfect.
Without having to leave the comfort of your home, you could set up a 20-30 minutes video call date that gave you a sense of what the person was like. No more time wasting and back forth with messaging - this was quick and you could tell enough about a person to decide whether you wanted to continue to talk with them.
In terms of dating now, this should absolutely remain as a staple procedure. We are all busy people, and if you're dating by numbers (that is the strategy that in order to really find your person, you need to expose yourself to as many people to increase the chances of finding that person, and eliminating the others) then this techniques saves you so. much. time.
Have you ever had a decent chat with someone on messages, but then met them and the conversation just doesn't flow? Or that time where they are the person in their photos but they don't actually look the same anymore?
By having a video date early on into the process after a few messaging exchanges, you are saving yourself the time of travelling somewhere and back, of getting fully dressed up (because we all know it's just face and shoulders for a video call, right?) and the length of an entire date - be that day date, coffee meet or restaurant meal, this is a much shorter affair.
You'll either come off that call buzzing with excitement or indifferent to what's just gone on, and that way, you know how you're feeling about your exchange with this person and can look forward to an in-person date you can be sure of.
5. Have FUN!
It is so easy to forget this if we're getting tunnel vision towards finding someone. The relentless swiping, the constant small talk all this is tiring, not to mention the investment of time with a number of people we start to date. It sounds exhausting just to read those things - and that's where your mindset has to change if you're going to enter this world.
This is about you pursuing something you want for you life and increasing the chances of you finding the most suitable person for you. No date is a waste of time - if you only ever have one date, virtual or in-person, and you or they decide it isn't a good match, then that was a good investment of time to establish that. If you're further in with a few dates, and they end after date three, you had three good dates!
Somewhere along the line, we are taught to associate longevity of time with a person to be an indicator of "success" but this just isn't true. A new person being introduced to our life can bring new perspectives, ideas and experiences and just having one conversation with them can have more impact on your life than the countless conversations you have with the people that surround your life each and every day.
For any date, hopefully you had fun, you practiced your flirting, heck, for some of you, this might've been your first set of serial dating in over a year - what a thing to get back to! There is always something to take from a date or series of dates, and that includes when you feel like you've wasted your time.
This isn't about if you are worth it - because you are.
This isn't about how long you can make it last - because you're enjoying each moment as you experience it.
This is about establishing what you want, deciding if someone meets the standards of who you want in your life and who you want to invest the time into, and to have fun whilst you explore, learn and grow along the way!