April 08, 2020
Helpful advice from a relationship expert on dating during our new normal.
For anyone trying to date in the shadow of COVID-19, stay-at-home orders and mandated quarantines bring a very different meaning to the "No Contact Rule." As a relationship coach, it's clear why these sudden, new limitations feel daunting. Even the most confident daters morph into "Friends'" Chandler Bing trapped in the ATM vestibule with Jill Goodacre — nervous, tongue-tied, awkwardly declining gum and conversation.
But social distancing also offers a new opportunity to make dating more fun. Normal rules don't apply — it's a time to get creative and use the limitations to make things more interesting.
Here are five insights to help you make the most of love in the time of quarantine:
Make Your Own Fun and Break Some Rules
Let's face it: The standard first-date recipe of small talk over coffee or cocktails isn't very spicy. Most clients confess their boredom with the status quo. Consider breaking hard-and-fast dating scripts and suggest non-traditional get-to-know-you interactions. Instead of replicating a typical first date with Skype and a glass of wine, invite your date to join you for an online game of Scrabble, chess or Monopoly.
Both of you art lovers? Share screens and browse the vast online collections at The Metropolitan Museum of Art or the National Portrait Gallery. Take advantage of the limitations and create your own digital dating disruption.
Crisis permits us to find out what happens when people start getting real. If you know your favorite "Real Housewife" better than the person you're dating, it's time to go deeper. Dating right now should have moments of seriousness. Explore your feelings and experiences by weaving open-ended questions into your conversations. The technique builds emotional intimacy and shows how you communicate during hard times.
Listen intently when discussing current events: Your partner's answers will provide valuable information. Do your perspectives align in crisis? Do they prepare or procrastinate? Do they check-in on people? Do they know how to have alone time?
Shake Up Your Patterns
The world is currently in flux: reevaluating, reflecting and rejecting old assumptions. The digital divide offers space to reflect and explore your own response to world events. Take some time to consider your own needs and desires in dating before you swipe, match or connect. What traits, beliefs and expectations make your perfect partner? What do you need to feel safe and secure in a relationship? Shake it up and make online dating more productive, exciting and meaningful. Ask yourself: Who do you want to hold your hand at the end?
Savoring the Slow Burn
Pam and Jim. Mulder and Scully. Phryne and Jack. The history of TV is rife with slow-burn romances, which are mostly a thing of the past in real life. Social distancing is a rom-com delight: It forces us all to slow down and savor getting to know each other. If you find yourself rushing to judgment on first dates, or leaping into new relationships faster than a contestant on "The Bachelor," the coming weeks are perfect to embrace a simmering romance.
Consider establishing a new time-frame to build a connection. One client established the "90-Hour Rule" in her newest relationship, which began a week before her state went into lock-down. Rather than rushing their relationship, they are allowing an unhurried bond to unfold. Over the past month, the duo has spent roughly 25 hours together. The burgeoning couple hasn't even held hands, which makes it all the more exciting for them.
Keeping Up With the Boundaries
If you have moved past the “90-Hour Rule," it's still important to address the structure of this new dynamic. Clear expectations will help reduce anxiety. Discuss how often you want to connect over the next few weeks and what modes work best. Yes, couples now need to decide what role Skype or FaceTime will play in a relationship. Cut down on frustration and fear by agreeing how long is comfortable to wait for a text response. Many people equate working at home with unfettered access to their partners. A common refrain is: “But they have plenty of time now!" Remember, your partner isn't On Demand, that's for episodes of This is Us and Dr. Who.
The world is changing at a dizzying pace due to COVI9-19. We're responding, adapting, and coming together for reassurance and support. No matter where you are in your dating life, you can elevate your commitment to kindness and consideration. The fears and insecurities we all face are amped up in times of uncertainty. But as we have all learned, we are in this together: The capacity for creative collaboration and quirky connection is what helps us all get through hard times.
Let your online dating expand and transform —and be a force for good.