The coronavirus pandemic could usher in a ‘golden age’ of dating where people take the time to make meaningful connections, a top clinical psychologist says.
‘The good old days or vintage days of dating are coming back,’ New York-based psychologist Scott Lyons told Daily Mail Australia on Monday.
The shared experience of living through lockdown is breaking down social barriers, encouraging connection and widening the pool of dating candidates.
‘There’s the opportunity to bring on a golden age of dating where conversation and deeper connection is at the forefront,’ he said.
Coronavirus: it’s a golden age for singles, says top psychologist Scott Lyons. Pictured: Locky Gilbert shooting The Bachelor before filming was stopped due to pandemic restrictions
‘It’s an opportunity to recognise the value of human relationships… the fragility of needing communication and connection with other human beings and to give more space and permission for others to not be a perfect person.
‘I think we have a lot to be hopeful about.’
Dr Lyons, a trauma expert, knows this from experience.
He moved to New York City in the days just before the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001.
‘When the planes flew into the buildings there was a lot of bonding between strangers, which was not typical in a city like that,’ he said.
‘People have something to connect over.’
In the world of dating, this means the shared trauma of the pandemic lockdown is an ice-breaker that can make conversation flow between people who might not normally ever talk to each other.
Singles can’t mingle with strangers and couples will be unable to cuddle in strict coronavirus social distancing laws for pubs in New South Wales even after June 1 restrictions ease
‘After a social trauma people have something in common they can relate about,’ he said.
‘How did you get by in quarantine? What shows did you watch? We have more in common with each other now.’
Dr Lyons, who is also a yogi, was on a teaching tour of Australia when he got stranded in Byron Bay on the New South Wales coast by the pandemic lockdown.
FIVE PANDEMIC DATES
Try these ideas for post-coronavirus first dates
1) Go on a bushwalk
2) Walk on the beach
3) Picnic in the park
4) Cooking together at home
5) Crafting project, like a painting day
He insists the crisis has benefited singles, who have found new ways of connecting.
‘There’s a lot of new patterns not seen in dating for some time,’ he said.
‘We’re going back to a prolonged courting – getting to know someone more before physical contact.’
Dr Lyons said this prolonged courtship time would lead to deeper and more meaningful relationships and less one-night stands.
‘When people know each other for longer there’s more likely to be a longer connection than one sexual encounter.’
The pool of interested daters is also set to grow, Dr Lyons said.
Those too busy to date before have had time to contemplate loneliness in isolation and may now be looking to connect.
Top New York psychologist Scott Lyons was on a teaching tour of Australia when he was stranded in Byron Bay by the coronavirus lockdown
Coronavirus breakups may also make the dating pool bigger as relationships that did not survive the intensity of lockdown have created newly-single people back on the market.
The pandemic has transformed how people meet each other with people barred from pubs and clubs shifting to online dating.
Dr Lyons said more people have gone on first dates online using video components of dating apps or Facetime.
Some first dates have included going for walks outdoors, some wearing masks depending on the physical distancing rules of the country.
‘Walks and picnics allow people to connect without being directly next to each other as for example in a movie theatre,’ he said.
‘Rather than go on a dinner date, go for a walk or for in-home dates where physical distancing is easier.
‘I think we’ll see vintage ideas of dating return, for example reading each other poetry or books.’
New etiquette for post-coronavirus dating is evolving with people sussing out what is OK and what is not, and sometimes setting boundaries before their first date.
Dr Scott Lyons (pictured left) said the coronavirus pandemic had torn down social barriers, increased the dating pool. People are now seeking deeper meaning and longer courtships
‘It can lead to that awkward moment – should I kiss, hug or hold hands,’ he said.
‘We see an increasing number of people identifying boundaries ahead of time which is really healthy communication, so we might see an increase in communication skills.’
For relationships that survived the coronavirus lockdown, Dr Lyons sees a positive future.
‘If a relationship prospered during this time, those things enhance the relationship long-term,’ he said.
‘You can really grow closer long-term when going through something significant together.’
During lockdown, those without a partner have also been able to grow by spending time getting to know themselves and developing better self-care, Dr Lyons said.
PANDEMIC SELF-CARE TIPS FOR BOTH SINGLES AND COUPLES
TOUCH: Without social interaction – self touch can assist. Head massages and foot massages are effective in mitigating social isolation responses.
SOCIAL MEDIA: Recognise the moment you start feeling overloaded and turn it off. For example, Facebook has a feature that allows you to silence a friend for 30 days if you feel they are having a negative effect on your well being.
CONNECT with people in real life if possible: Leave your phone at home and go for a walk or run with a friend, you don’t need it. Make sure you still practice social distancing of course.
NEWS consumption is based on your capacity to take it in: If you start zoning out, it means you’re done.
LOCKED DOWN WITH A PARTNER: institute things like time apart. Even if your home is small, design a space that is uniquely yours that you can immediately access. Then set up times you can meet up like date nights, bringing specialness into the relationship so you don’t feel on top of each other all the time.
LOCKED DOWN WITH FLATMATES: now more than ever is the time to have clear boundaries and assess and express your particular needs. Everyone is on edge and we need to give each other a break. Doing activities together helps shift the environment and our collective energy, eg yoga etc.
DAILY EXERCISE as well as meditation and mindfulness, brings more blood flow to prefrontal cortex, helping us with decision making and emotional regulation which can be stressed in this time. Blood circulation reduces inflammation, which can spike during stress periods.
VICES like alcohol and drug intake during isolation: If you feel the need to party, that’s your prerogative, but it may make your risk for virus contraction higher. The pandemic has probably already compromised your immune position due to high amounts of cortisol, so adding to this may affect your ability to fight off the virus if you do contract it.
MEDITATE: This helps reduce inflammation, brings in more capacity for emotional regulation, decision making, and overall reduces the sense of stress. Three minutes a day is a great place to start – the amount of time it takes to brush your teeth is all you need for it to have positive effects.
DON’T BOTTLE EMOTIONS: This creates more inflammation in your body, which reduces immune functions. Expressing emotions helps to process what you’re witnessing, allows you to be more conscious, make better decisions, and have better relationships. Bottling up usually leads to an explosion, sometimes onto someone else. Find the best listeners in your life. If you can’t access appropriate friends or family, seek out a licensed professional or mental health expert.
SEEK out online support groups, government resources for mental health are readily available online or via mobile. This is an imperative time to do address mental health.
Source: Dr Scott Lyons, New York trauma psychologist