Dating in general isn’t exactly easy under the most normal of circumstances, so when the world kind of fell apart in 2020, it made the whole scene kind of impossible.
As someone who has been trying to date seriously to find a partner, I feel like my whole vibe was derailed. While there were clearly some barriers to dating, I couldn’t even understand why I felt so excessively frustrated with the process until I really reflected upon it.
There was so much more pressure when trying to date that I kind of didn’t want to do it at all. That is, until I found my way around it.
First Of All, Meeting People Was Just Easier Before
I’ve never been a big fan of dating apps, so in my dating life, I really relied on physically putting myself out there to meet someone: going to events that fit my interests like local art showings, picking up social hobbies like playing adult recreational sports, or just heading out on the town.
There were always easy venues to meet other humans you might be interested in.
Now, There Are So Few Options Left
Between lockdowns, “bubble” restrictions for how many people you can hang out with, and pretty much all social events and venues shut down for an unforeseeable amount of time, it’s hard to meet people in an organic way.
Really, the only available options now are online dating and getting set up on a blind with a friend of a friend, which aren’t ideal for most people.
Even Online Dating Was Easier Before
Although I hold a disdain for dating apps due to my personal experiences with them, even I can admit that dating using them pre-pandemic was way easier than now.
If I matched with someone I was vaguely interested in, I could just tell them if I was heading out to a bar with friends and suggest, if he was thinking of heading out with pals, that we could potentially link up at the place. That way, it would be a casual setting and, should we not really be interested in each other, it would be easy to part ways.
Now, There’s So Much Commitment Involved
Because you can see so few people in person during these times, you really have to vet your potential dates to make sure they’re worth the effort and risk.
Not only does that mean that you spend much more time and energy on conversations before meeting a potential romantic interest, but that also means you’re first meeting them on a date, which involves a much bigger time commitment and can get awkward quickly if you’re not particularly interested in each other.
Lastly, What Can You Even Do?
Let’s say that you get to the point where you do want to go on a date or two; there really are not many options for dates other than grabbing a coffee and going for a walk in the park or sitting outside somewhere to chat.
Dating is supposed to be fun, but I found that some of the dates I went on felt much more like interviews than anything, and I started to feel exhausted.
But I Guess Modern Problems Require Modern Solutions
I won’t lie: there was a month or two where I was so frustrated by the problems involved in dating in the pandemic that I just kind of gave up and said I’d wait until things cleared up.
However, when that didn’t seem to be happening soon, I decided that the best way to start dating again was to completely adapt my approach to the times.
I Started Doing Preliminary FaceTime/Zoom Dates
So, in the beginning, I was doing Zoom dates, but I was doing them wrong: they were a little too formal and they took hours of time.
Instead, I started doing speed FaceTime/Zoom dates where I would talk to someone I met online for a maximum of 20 minutes just to check that a) they looked like their profile; and b) I enjoyed having a conversation with them. I’d always give a reason why I’d need to hang up shortly—I needed to pick up a friend, I had a girls’ night to go to—and, if the 20 minutes had been genuinely enjoyable, I’d set up a date.
I Got Inventive With First Dates
Rather than just walking around a park for coffee, I started considering new date ideas that were still very doable but weren’t the same “walk around the block” and also told me a lot about the person in a short amount of time.
For example, going grocery shopping together told me a lot about their lifestyle habits and organization while still being a kind of fun activity to do. I had a guy take me on a “best donut tour” where we stopped at different local bakeries and tried to rate which one was the winner. Sure, these are simple dates, but they were still entertaining.
I Focused My Efforts
Before the pandemic hit, I would talk to someone longer or give them more chances before ruling them out, but I really don’t have the time or energy to maintain several conversations anymore, and there are only so many trips I can make to the grocery store.
If anything, this experience has taught me to be more decisive upfront—if I’m not all that interested, I unmatch them on the app. If I had only an okay time on a date, I will not schedule a second. In fact, it’s something I’ll probably take into my post-pandemic dating endeavors.
Of Course, It’s Not Going To Be As Easy As Before
Sure, I’ve found ways to try and navigate the pandemic dating scene a little easier and, with more places opening up and fewer restrictions in place, it’s naturally becoming a less difficult process.
That being said, I will acknowledge that dating now still involves a lot more effort and planning for everyone involved than it did before, and it still can be frustrating. If you’re in a place where dating has really got you feeling burnt out, I feel you—it’s okay.
I promise it won’t always be this hard.