#onlinedating | Don’t let the pandemic stop your search for a soulmate | #bumble | #tinder | #pof

Here we go again: a three-week total lockdown for the country. COVID-19 has caused so much physical, emotional and economic pain and suffering this year that it’s hard to make sense of it all. One group that often goes unnoticed are singles, of all ages, since the current situation has made both meeting someone and dating particularly hard. Reasons may vary for younger and older singles.

Many younger people are not worried about getting the virus. They know that healthy young people have a low negative health-consequence risk. So, what factors make it hard for younger singles to date during the pandemic?

One of the most significant factors is the lack of social mingling for this group. Since the start of the pandemic, the avenues for social interaction have continually been limited.

One religious 22-year-old woman told me that although her friends have chosen to host Shabbat meals after the first lockdown, the groups of people at the meals tend to be small. Also, she said that attendance is low or non-existent at synagogues, another possible place to meet other singles. There are few cultural events. Moreover, weddings are a place where some singles meet their future soulmates.

During this pandemic, however, weddings are very small, and the size certainly limits the possibility of meeting someone. One 26-year-old man told me that many of his friends would travel abroad with hopes of increasing their social circles and meeting the right someone. Traveling is currently not an option. Some young singles chose to go to outdoor pubs but this is not the preference for many single people. Thus, social meeting places for singles have shrunk considerably.

Many older singles may hold back on dating during the pandemic for reasons that differ from their younger counterparts. Some of these individuals that I have spoken with are very fearful of getting the virus. Others are divorced or widowed and have their own children to care for during this intense pandemic period. Economic difficulties, job loss, family responsibilities and health concerns may outweigh the desire to meet a mate.

While it may seem completely counterintuitive to think about dating during the pandemic, there are many experts who suggest that there is no reason to stop trying to meet someone, even if there is a lockdown. Certainly, the rules of engagement have indeed changed, and the challenges are many.

Dating during the pandemic requires some creative ideas. Let’s look at some of them.

Meeting someone

While the challenges are more formidable, a single person can continue his or her search to meet someone even during the current lockdown. Introductions by friends or family are still viable options today, but thanks to technology, the possibilities have significantly increased.

Clinical Social Worker Tina Knorr sums it up well: “Even though we’re in a pandemic, our lives have to go on. Finding some semblance of normalcy is not only important for our social lives, but for our mental health as well. Thanks to technology like dating apps or using video chats for first dates, we have new ways to find potential romantic partners.” In fact, there are numerous dating apps and Facebook dating groups in Israel. One very interesting group that I recently learned about is called Points of Contact. POC is a closed Facebook group comprised of married volunteers, close to 550 people, setting up religious and secular Anglos and Anglo-Israelis for purposes of marriage.

The program was started by Tzippi Shechet five years ago. Singles do not join this group directly. Instead, married individuals can sponsor a single person who wants to participate in POC by writing to pointsofcontacthelp@gmail.com. A member of the board will contact the potential sponsor to start the process. There is no charge for this service.

Dating during lockdown

Once you get introduced to someone and make that first telephone call, there are some creative ways of getting to know each other even during this lockdown period.

• Go on a virtual first date. Sounds strange? Yet, single people are in fact doing this in many places around the world. Have a video chat over a coffee. After all, many first-time dates start out with meeting over a cup of coffee. If you want, today’s technology can give you a beautiful backdrop or landscape against which to meet online with a touch of a button. You may want to set a time limit for this first date, 10 minutes or perhaps longer. If the vibes are good, you could start to develop a relationship before you meet in person.

• I read online about a man that arranged a virtual dinner date complete with candles. Crazy? No, you just have to plan it and agree to give it a try. Plan your menu and go for it.

• Other virtual ideas might include watching a movie online at the same time or visiting a museum such as the Louvre in Paris.

• Other people have done online workout dates and listened to stand-up comedians.

While COVID-19 has made life very hard for so many people around the world, if open to trying, singles don’t have to stop looking. And, if you develop some connection online using virtual dating, then you will have established the beginning of a relationship that has potential to grow when you meet in person.  The writer is a marital, child and adult cognitive-behavioral psychotherapist with offices in Jerusalem and Ra’anana and global online accessibility. drmikegropper@gmail.com; www.facebook.com/drmikegropper.




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