What are some of the long-term changes in dating as a result of the coronavirus crisis?
“While in the past people may have found themselves not dedicating enough time to their love lives or coming to hard and fast decisions about who they want to date, we're going to witness some big changes in people's dating behaviours. Apart from a surge in online dating, I expect to see longer courtship periods, more time invested in getting to know people and better decisions being made about potential partners.” – Hayley Quinn, Match.com dating expert
“We are now extremely dependant on technology: video dating, video calling, virtual drinks and video chat are now standard procedure. The importance of social distancing is also imperative, so we must seek out a modern way of communicating and maintaining human connection with our prospective dates. Zoom is the main provider for online communication since the pandemic started. It’s easy to use and a great way to communicate and engage with your date prior to that first face-to-face interaction.” – Nia Williams, founder of Miss Date Doctor
“The lockdown has been painful in so many ways but, reassuringly, friends and family are reporting that they are committing to themselves, or their relationships, in an entirely new way. The bottom line is, without so many options, we are being forced to work through things and, like our grandparents, find solutions to problems. I hope that this will re-educate us into a new way of being – seeing that the perfect relationship, emotionally and sexually is just two imperfect people who refuse to give up on each other. While we may long for the social distancing to end, we might also long for this newfound commitment to last.” – Mika Simmons, host of The Happy Vagina podcast
What’s the first thing to think about before jumping back into dating?
“See this as an opportunity. If you feel you've been stuck in a dating rut of always choosing the wrong people, or not getting off the starting blocks, this could be a great time to refocus on what you want. Use this time to draw up a list of personal qualities that you would like in a long-term partner and reflect on what's really important to you. Also, give your online dating profile an update. Enjoy the time you have to complete your profile and refresh your pictures. With lots more people actively engaging with online dating, you want to present yourself in the best possible way.” – Hayley Quinn
“Online dating can be daunting but can also be full of fun and anticipation when you meet the right match. The importance and value of phone conversations and emotional connection has been lost in modern times, so use this stay at home period to reignite those important virtues. When you talk to someone for a significant amount of time, you start to gain insight into who they are and what they want. The new norm of social distancing is making us all realise the value of love and loved ones even more.” – Nia Williams
You’ve probably been spending more time on your own. It may not have been easy or comfortable but rather than bouncing back and trying to be just like you used to be, consider whether anything has changed. Has your relationship with yourself changed? How do you feel about being alone? This is an opportunity to be self-sufficient, and to shift your emotional intelligence. Have you developed any new habits? Have you learned how to look after yourself better? The more you care for yourself, the less you’re expecting a prospective partner to ‘fix’ or complete you.” – Gavin Bloom, dating coach at The Groundwork
First date video calls are popular now. Any advice?
“For the immediate future, dates are likely to be held online. So, make sure the background in your video is clear of clutter, get some good lighting, or focus on being relaxed to make the best first impression. Now is also a great time to take a more qualitative approach to dating. Read people's profiles carefully and take the time to write proper messages to potential dates. By taking your time getting to know people you will only improve your chance of finding a great partner. Build a connection via your shared quarantine experiences and enjoy building emotional intimacy over a period of time. If you can communicate well and consistently over the coming months that's a great sign for your future potential.” – Hayley Quinn
“Like everything, this is a personal choice – you should only do it if and when it feels right, not when someone tells you to. Many of us look to others to be guided, rather than using our own minds to make decisions. But taking some time alone can sometimes provide you with more wisdom. Plus, you shouldn’t forget to enjoy that time before you do see each other face to face – that excitement and apprehension is all part of the journey.” – Gavin Bloom
What should you consider before agreeing to meet up in person?
“Be aware of the deception in online dating and those who seek to exploit different platforms by doing some research prior to meeting anyone. That said, it’s imperative to establish a face-to-face connection to determine if this person is right for you. However, using online options before committing to a face-to-face date could prevent you from wasting each other’s time. Just be alert on a video call and watch out for anything that seems deceptive or misleading.” – Nia Williams
“If someone puts pressure on you to meet up, that’s all it is: pressure from them. Remember that the next part of the interaction is up to you. We might not be able to choose how people interact with us – but our power comes from choosing how we interact with the world. I wouldn’t offer any specific advice here, only you get to choose how you do you. But if you’re feeling uncomfortable at the prospect, then you probably have your answer.” – Gavin Bloom
How can you expect to develop intimacy while maintaining social distancing?
“Most of us are far more dependent on touching to flirt or show affection than we realise and when you are hyper-attracted to each other, to stop might be harder than you think. But it really is crucial, so immerse yourself in some emotional foreplay instead. Emotional foreplay can be any emotionally positive experience that happens between you and your potential partner, before or in-between touching and sex. In social distancing terms, you might be surprised to hear that it could be as simple as the way you swing your leg over your bike or how you eat an ice cream. Also, first time sex online is definitely a thing now. Start with some sexting before taking things further. Use an encrypted site, be brave but don’t do anything you don’t feel comfortable with.” – Mika Simmons
“We have a shared cultural belief that the word ‘intimacy’ means ‘sex’ – it’s not just that. Intimacy means to be present with another person. To hear them, to know them, to be still and silent with them – that can be such a powerful and rich form of intimacy. This is our time to create a new normal – one of authenticity and ‘slow dating’. It’s about being more mindful, and rather than endlessly scrolling through dating apps and filling your calendar with dates, focus on quality rather than quantity. Don’t get caught up in the stress and distraction of the dating treadmill, and direct your energy and choose your connections carefully.” – Gavin Bloom
What should you do if your feelings change or you find yourself in a situation which isn’t right?
“Don’t be surprised if your feelings change. This is normal. The most common way we sabotage new love possibilities is if we panic when all of a sudden our desire plummets. It’s more than likely you haven’t “gone off them” and, if you hang in there and see it through, you’ll probably find the lust comes back. If you feel it’s your new love interest who is pulling away, re-create the tension by taking a step back and giving them the space to chase you. The moment people think they know what to expect is when the aphrodisiac can diminish, so consider adding in the occasional surprise.” – Mika Simmons
“One of the main reasons people get into bad relationships is that they can’t deal with the uncertainty of being single. They’d rather settle for a relationship that feels rubbish than deal with the unknown of not having a relationship yet. If you can, use this strange, global situation to hone your skills in dealing with the unknown – then you won’t need to compromise when it comes to meeting someone who’s a genuine match for you.” – Gavin Bloom
Any final thoughts or advice for getting out there, virtually speaking?
“This period has been really hard, but don’t forget to try and bring your A-game. That doesn’t mean pretending to be something you’re not, it means leaving your coronavirus woes at home. Be present and make them laugh, so your date associates you with a positive experience. It’ll ensure they want to see you again.” – Mika Simmons
“It’s time to get ready for the relationship you truly deserve. Collectively, we have been through big changes. Reflect on what this has meant to you and set an intention of what you want from your next relationship. Use this time to make any positive steps and lay the groundwork for something better next time. This is an unusual situation – things have slowed down and stopped in many ways. Rather than picking up in exactly the same way as you used to, use this pause to consider which parts of your dating life were working for you and which ones were not.” – Gavin Bloom
Inspired? Download one of these dating apps to get started…
If You Want To Call The Shots: Bumble
If You’re Looking For A Relationship: Hinge
If You’re Over A Certain Age: Lumen
If You’re Looking For A Same-Sex Match: HER
If You Want To Stay Local: Happn
If You’re More Traditional: Match
If You’re Looking For Something Exclusive: The Inner Circle
If You Want To Keep It Casual: Tinder
*DISCLAIMER: As of the time of writing, people residing in England and Wales are urged to stay at home as much as possible, and limit contact with people outside of their immediate household. If you do meet up with people from another household (only in groups of up to six), it is imperative to maintain a 2m social distance and wash your hands regularly. Individuals are only allowed to spend time inside each other’s homes, including overnight, without needing to stay 2m apart if they are part of a single adult household (excluding dependent children) and have formed a ‘support bubble’. For more information on current guidelines click here.
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