By: Diane Feen
As human beings we are wired to socialize. But with the pandemic looming around every corner of our lives it’s hard to be social and safe at the same time.
Especially if you’re single.
Currently, there are 110 million single adults in the US. This does not mean they are all living alone – but some are.
Add that to the fact that most places where single people congregate are not open (or are minimally occupied) and you have a loneliness epidemic floating around the atmosphere.
But it doesn’t have to be.
“I think COVID-19 is a great time for dating. It allows both parties to focus solely on each other and not be swayed by other social commitments,” said Dr. David P. Selzer, primary care specialist at NYU Langone Cardiology Associates in Delray Beach.
Dr. Selzer has a point. But it has a sharp edge to it. Especially since dating requires some physical contact (if only to pass the butter).
But experts in the dating arena say the obstacles to overcome are worth the psychological difficulties of being alone all the time.
Dr. Jennifer Berman, co-host of the CBS Emmy Award winning show, “The Doctors,” equates being alone too much with disaster. “Isolating and disconnecting can take its toll on you, it’s contrary to how we are wired. We need friends and family.”
Dr. Berman is not advocating you throw caution to the wind and carry on as if the pandemic is a movie – and you’re starring in it. Quite to the contrary, she has helpful hints to keep you safe (provided you don’t drink too many margaritas and forget about the advice of professionals).
She suggests you quarantine for 14 days before you meet your date, take a COVID test three days before and wear a mask.
“You can still flirt by zooming, facetime, texting, and sexting – you can remain connected without physical contact.”
Apparently, Dr. Berman is right.
At Match, one of the largest dating sites, only six percent of daters were open to video dating pre-Covid, and now 70% are willing to go virtual. Tinder recently had it busiest day ever, with over 3 billion swipes in 24 hours.
There are other bright lights amidst this darkening COVID cloud.
“There is a therapeutic benefit to meeting remotely first. In addition to the safety factor, meeting remotely allows you to screen someone without getting caught up in the smoke and mirrors of instant chemistry, or distractions like a party or restaurant,” said therapist Pamela Garber.
Now that life has slowed to a turtle’s pace, meeting someone for the first time has less glamour and glitz and more reality to it. Suggested places to go on a date now range from walks in the park to a picnic outside (preferably six feet away from each other).
It also fosters other more important things to consider when looking for a mate. “A lot of my clients jump into bed too soon. When the hormones (and dopamine) are raging you don’t look at the red flags. Now you’re forced to get to know someone first before there’s an emotional connection,” said Allana Pratt, Author, Relationship Coach and Intimacy Expert.
Pratt, who has a wise grip on the human condition, also sees another light in the darker tunnel of single existence. “When dating now you get to see how someone reacts under pressure. Everyone is under heightened stress and you can see their true colors right out of the gate.”
Some experts feel that the current climate allows for a return to the olden days when people wrote letters, took walks in the park, and settled for a goodnight kiss after dating (or video chatting) for a month or two. But, in the name of safety it is wise to only date one person at a time.
Social distancing and precautions during the Covid moment are also highlighting our differences. They are forcing people to be honest with each other before they meet.
Dr. Sera Lavelle, Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Director of NY Health Hypnosis & Integrative Therapy, sees this as a plus. “In many ways we are finding that similarities in views on social distancing can be a good indicator of other factors of compatibility, such as political views and world outlook.”
But when all is said and done (with a mask on of course) dating still has a familiar ring to it.
“Who you’re looking for doesn’t change under stress. I advise singles to determine what their non-negotiables are and stick to them. These are qualities (personality traits, not superficial) that you seek in a partner. They guide you to make better dating decisions, and don’t change – even during a pandemic,” adds Rachel DeAlto, Chief Dating Expert at Match.