We don’t have to tell you how much the world has changed in the last 13 months. No one really knows what “normal” means anymore, so many of us have got mixed feelings about going back into the world. Starting to date after a year of social distancing is something you might feel particularly excited — or particularly nervous about. No matter how you feel, here are some things you should keep in mind when you reenter the dating pool.
Regardless of your age or relationship status, chances are you feel like you’ve been robbed of a year. College students might feel like they’ve lost one of the years that were supposed to be wild and fun. People in their thirties, on the other hand, may feel frustrated and discouraged by the fact that another year went by, and they haven’t settled down yet.
So when we go back to dating, it’s important to remember that there’s no timeline. You don’t really have to catch up with your former classmates who are already married with kids, even if your parents are waiting for grandchildren. Besides, no one has escaped the pandemic — we’re all in this together. And if everyone is behind the schedule, then, well, is anyone?
Dating has never been easy, so it’s no surprise that many people might feel intimidated about going out into the world and letting strangers into their lives again. It’s curious how even the most introverted people are now craving human touch and connection, but at the same time, even the die-hard extraverts can get a little nervous about socializing again.
If you’ve spent the last 12 months at home, it might be better to take things slow and start by going out with people you know well. Meet with people who you trust so that you don’t spend the whole outing overthinking and can simply enjoy being in a room with a person you care about. And when you do feel comfortable enough about dating IRL again, remember that you and your date are likely in the same boat. It might be the first date in a while for both of you, so they probably share your fears and concerns. And there you go, you’ll have one more thing in common that will help you bond. Or at least will give you something to laugh about.
Although we definitely have not asked for them, the pandemic has taught us many lessons. One of them is setting our boundaries and making sure people respect them. As bars and restaurants start opening up, and people get their vaccines, some of us may feel tempted to go all in and live our social lives to the fullest. But even if you can go out again, it doesn’t mean that you have to. There are many reasons why you may not feel ready to see other people yet, and there’s no shame in taking things slow or refusing invitations.
After such a chaotic year, there’s no universal “normal” anymore. Only you get to decide what feels safe and what doesn’t. If you meet someone who’s not taking the restrictions as seriously as you do, there’s a high chance you won’t see eye to eye in other areas as well. Be upfront about what you expect from the people you’re dating. Whether it’s only dating outdoors or waiting till you both get vaccinated, every rule is valid as long as it makes you feel safe.
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