Many lessons can be gleaned from the past year, and if you’ve spent any part of this challenging time attempting to make a romantic connection, you’ve undoubtedly experienced a few teachable moments (in the words of queen Oprah) when it comes to dating. And maybe that’s actually for the better: Relationship experts believe that there are some pandemic dating habits to keep practicing even after it’s safer to be more social.
Whether you’ve been lucky in love over quarantine or have struggled with the restrictions of social distancing — from meeting up in masks to being limited to only virtual dates — singles have definitely been thrown a curve ball when it comes to connecting romantically. But these obstacles aren’t necessarily a negative thing. In fact, chances are that you’ve had more solo time than ever to think about what’s really important to you in a relationship.
That said, as things slowly open back up and dating with less restrictions becomes more of an option, relationship experts like Rachel Thomasian, therapist at Playa Vista Counseling and author of BreakOut & BreakOut, believe that you should still allow yourself some grace and go at a pace that feels right for you. “I think going back to how some things were will need some adjusting or getting comfortable with, and dating is certainly one of those things I imagine is going to take some time re-adjusting to,” she explains. “In my opinion from having worked with people going through the dating scene during the pandemic, it hasn't all been terrible and there are some lessons I think we should keep from this time.”
So what are the things Thomasian believes are worth keeping in practice post-pandemic? Ahead find the three habits she thinks can be valuable for the long haul.
Pandemic Dating Habits To Keep: Creating (& Keeping) Boundaries
A very real part of dating during a pandemic for many was navigating a break up. The isolation, financial strain, and other stressors became the straw that broke many a couples’ backs. And according to Thomasian, this pressure actually caused some to better define their boundaries and become aware of their deal breakers in a whole new way.
Conversely, some couples took this time to weigh pros and cons and examine their needs and decided to stick it out — and they’re stronger because of it. “I think there has been a sense among some people that they had to make it work with the person they were with since they didn't want to enter the dating pool with all the covid risks involved,” she says. “It's been easier to survive the pandemic with a partner of any kind so people tried to make it work with the person they were with. I'm definitely not saying you should stay in an abusive relationship or one where it simply is not right for a lot of reasons, but I do believe that we live in a culture where we often think the grass is greener on the other side or waiting for the next best thing, and I see the value in nurturing the relationship you've got and growing within it.”
Pandemic Dating Habits To Keep: Seeking Help
Therapy, particularly couples therapy, has become an even more common and shame-free process for people during this time, Thomasian says — and seeking help shouldn’t stop just because the pandemic does. “There is a consensus among my colleagues that the rates of people seeking couples therapy shot up in this time even among dating couples, which as a couples therapist I think is incredible,” she explains. “Couples therapy is a fantastic tool for every single relationship to learn better communication, conflict resolution and connection skills. Often people wait until it's almost too late to seek therapy but now we're seeing couples who just want to make it the best it can be.” And the same goes for those navigating the dating scene solo, too.
Pandemic Dating Habits To Keep: Taking Your Time
Thomasian also shares that just because a lack of social protocols in place can expedite the dating process post-pandemic, it still benefits you to take your time and be discerning — the same way you may have been while dating over the past year. “Another silver-lining of Covid dating has been more and more people getting to know someone a little bit more before committing to them,” she explains. “There's been a requirement for most people to understand someone else's values and ensure they are on the same page with safety before going on dates and spending more intimate time together.” In fact, she believes there to be potentially more compatibility between those who have responded to dating during the pandemic similarly, which could also be something to take note of. “I actually have a theory that people who have responded to Covid similarly probably have other values in common, so I'm curious to know how these matches play out,” she adds.