Starting a New Relationship in the Time of Coronavirus

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Starting a new relationship from scratch or maintaining a budding relationship is a tricky endeavor in and of itself. Throw in the added hurdle of dealing with the daily throes of a global medical emergency — and the inability to physically be with that other person — and things become increasingly complicated. This doesn’t necessarily mean all dating should cease, though.

Following government and state orders to isolate is of utmost importance as we try to flatten the coronavirus infection curve. It may be tempting to physically meet up with the person you’re seeing, but wait until we’re through this to protect each other and the rest of your community. The only way to date right now is virtually—face to face meeting is off-limits and dangerous even if you feel healthy and your potential mate feels fine.

Why Dating Might Still Make Sense Amid the Pandemic

Though dating has certainly waned given the coronavirus pandemic, it makes sense that some do wish to continue the courting process. Some may argue that dating right now could even be advantageous for a couple different reasons.

“I think anything that creates normalcy in our routines we should continue [to do], provided we take the recommended precautions. Though social interactions will have to be virtual right now, the ability to video chat [and text] means you can still get to know someone and sense their energy,” says Bianca L. Rodriguez, Ed.M, LMFT.

She adds that when we're in a state of crisis, like this coronavirus pandemic, there's increased worry about the unknown which exacerbates stress and anxiety. In that sense, sticking with regular routines creates a sense of predictability which can potentially ease our stress. Further, the lack of human connection can increase feelings of isolation and depression, so it's important that we continue to invest time in socializing, too. 

Rachel DeAlto, the chief dating expert for Match, agrees that right now is a good time to date and really get to know people. She says you can even consider it a vetting process of sorts. 

“Additionally, this can be a great time to meet people who are also interested in more than a hookup. It slows down the physical component of new relationships and builds emotional intimacy.”  

Finding Success While Dating in the Time of Coronavirus

If starting a new relationship — or maintaining a budding relationship — feels like the right move for you, the following advice can help things go more smoothly.

Don’t Ignore the Elephant in the Room

You may wonder if talking about the pandemic in the context of dating makes sense. To answer your question, it absolutely does.

“Everyone’s life is completely altered by this worldwide crisis. I would make sure [the topic] doesn't dominate the conversation, but how your date responds to COVID-19 can tell you a lot about him or her,” says Rodriguez.

“It provides an excellent opportunity to learn how your date handles a crisis, and since crises are inevitable, you get to see what the future holds if you want to build a life with this person.” 

Identify What You’re Seeking in a Partner

This advice applies in and outside of a pandemic, but we're reiterating it since it may be easier to lose sight of what we’re seeking in a long-term partner during this chaos. If you haven’t already, define three to five non-negotiables you’re seeking in a partner.

“Knowing what you are looking for helps you recognize it faster,” says DeAlto. “Also while we may have more free time at the moment, it doesn’t mean you should be virtually dating everyone that comes your way. This will all end at some point, and you want to be ready to start in-real-life dating someone with potential."

Focus on Getting to Know Each Other

Just as you would do your best to get to know someone at the start of a relationship any other time, the focus now should be the same. Be genuinely curious about getting to know the soul and mind of the person you’ve just met to feel out your connection. The New York Times’ 36 Questions to Fall in Love might also be a great jumping-off point for deeper conversations.

Make Sure to Video Chat

One of the greatest milestones of dating someone you met online is taking your connection from text message to face. Obviously, in light of the coronavirus pandemic, actually going on a physical date isn’t feasible. The next best thing is to talk to each other via FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, etc.

If you’re feeling a strong connection with someone, move your conversations off text as soon as possible. Doing so makes a world of difference in your ability to really connect. If your relationship progresses, you could even get creative and set up a virtual candlelit date night or watch a movie together via Netflix Party, or a similar service.

Stay Positive as Best As You Can

One of the beautiful things about being in a committed partnership is having the ability to laugh, lament, and vent together. During this particularly trying time, though, defaulting to negative discussions may come too easy.

“If you need a venting session that is understandable, but don’t use your new match as a sounding board,” says DeAlto. “People are still drawn to positive people, and you wouldn’t want a great potential date to be put off by negativity. If you aren’t feeling up to it, push the conversations off.”

Some Considerations to Keep in Mind

You and your potential partner are likely experiencing waves of emotions as you try to process and work through the coronavirus pandemic. Anxiety levels might be high, frustrations may come more quickly, and disconnects can understandably happen.

Dating someone new at this time will likely require an increase in patience, heightened self-awareness, and ultra-strong communication skills. It also requires an authentic desire to get to know someone else.

With that said, if you feel emotionally and mentally equipped to go through the stages of beginning a new relationship, then do so. However, do give yourself permission to step away from the dating game if that’s what you need in this moment.

“Balance is a personal boundary we each need to define individually,” says Rodriguez. “Spending time dating should feel like it adds value to your life. If it doesn't, then I'd look at the amount of energy you're giving to it and make some changes.” 

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