Spring is in the air, and the flowers are in bloom. After a year of actively avoiding people due to COVID-19 pandemic precautions, many singles are ready to defrost the dating scene.
As the restrictions lift, and more and more people become vaccinated, it’s nice to see life slowly return to normal. Are you ready to get back into the in-person dating game?
If so, you’re not alone. But now that you’re ready to be around people and socialize, you need to ask yourself: Are you prepared?
To make sure you can answer “yes” to that question, consider these six things you should do when getting into the post-COVID dating game.
1. Update Your Dating Profiles
After more than a year, it might be time to refresh your online dating profiles. If you have several travel pictures and group shots, your potential dates will know those photos are old. If they are from this past winter, they will know you didn’t take social distancing very seriously.
Go ahead and add three to five new photos of yourself now that you’re venturing out again. Skip group photos though; your date doesn’t want to guess which person you are. And please, let’s stop with the bathroom mirror selfies. Your phone can flip its camera around, and if you struggle, ask a friend to snap a photo of you.
2. Practice Safe Dating
While dating safety is always important, entering the scene post-COVID means more than practicing safe sex and using birth control. Singles have long been aware of the need to take precautions to avoid unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The past year, though, added a potentially deadly virus to the dating mix.
Knowing your status and having open and honest conversations has taken on a whole new meaning. Before meeting in person, it’s good to talk about whether you and your date have received the COVID vaccine.
More than that, it’s good to know whether they’ve had one or two doses and at what point in time. If one or both or you have not been vaccinated, check in on each other’s potential symptoms. Knowing how each of you feels about wearing face masks and your comfort level in different places are also important factors.
3. Keep Some of Your Dates Virtual
During the pandemic, a lot of people continued dating through video messages, phone calls, and texts. In many cases, the virtual approach got the job done — people paired off, and love bloomed.
Why not continue holding your first dates online? Keep the pace slow, and use Zoom dates for getting to know someone before meeting in person. This approach takes the pressure off. Plus, if you don’t click, you won’t have the stress of picking a meeting place.
While some singles might have hated dating during COVID, others found love and liked it better. It was a good time for first dates. Virtual dates save money, so it took the expense question off the table along with awkward navigation of physical expectations. It gave daters more time to focus on conversation.
Many online dating apps saw an increase in users and the length of conversations during the pandemic. Continuing longer, more in-depth conversations before meeting up can help you decide whether it’s worth getting together in person.
4. Don’t Rush
It’s perfectly OK to take your time getting back out there. Start with messaging a few people a week on your dating app or setting up just one date in person. Adding in a bunch of new people can be overwhelming, especially after being out of the scene for months.
So ease your way back in. Get used to how it feels to meet someone new over drinks. Putting too much pressure on yourself can take the fun out of dating. It can also stir up feelings of stress from the pandemic.
Don’t worry if you feel a little off your flirting game. Just remember that everyone is in the same boat and is looking to get back out there, too.
5. Know Your Comfort Level
Some singles are ready to rip off the face masks as soon as the mandates are relaxed. Others approach in-person dating with more caution. As you begin to plan new dates, be honest with yourself about your comfort level. After months of staying six feet away from nearly everyone, physical proximity takes some getting used to.
Prior to the date, think about what you’re OK with in terms of touch. Will you feel nervous about a hug or a kiss post-COVID? A year of dating through screens and air high-fives can make the initial greeting and end of the date nerve-wracking. If you don’t want even a handshake yet, let your date know. If a masked hug would be all right, say so.
Taking out the unknowns through open communication can make it a more comfortable situation for both parties. Dating can be stressful enough without the added anxiety many of us have felt during the pandemic.
6. Choose the Right Location
Once you decide to meet in person, the challenge of where to meet begins. This has always been a hard decision in dating. How can I pick a place my date will like? Should I pick a place close to home in case it ends early?
With post-COVID dating, choosing a venue where you both feel safe and comfortable is yet another factor. If a crowded bar seems stress-inducing after a year of isolation, that’s a legit feeling. Be open with your date. If it’s your first meeting, a walk outdoors may seem like a safer way to get to know each other.
If you want to grab coffee but don’t want to sit inside, get it to go and hit up a nature trail. Maybe a restaurant with an outdoor patio would be the perfect place to grab drinks and appetizers. Get creative and respect each other’s ideas of a safe, comfortable location, and it will be a memorable date.
It’s been a rough year for dating. Following these tips can help you get back into the dating game in a safe and fun way. You might find that some of these ideas can make dating even better and more genuine this summer.