Why talk about dating on a blog about entrepreneurship? Surprisingly, I’ve noticed some parallels between business and dating that has to be shared. Just like how business owners have had to pivot how they do business during COVID-19, singles have also had to change how they date during the pandemic. Creativity has been key to finding new ways to date. Here are three ways that dating has changed since COVID-19.
Getting to Know Your Date
COVID-19 abruptly ended in-person group meetings as a primary way to meet new people outside your usual social and professional circles. Gone are speed dating events and the cliché meeting with strangers at a crowded bar.
Gone are activities such as events arranged on Meetup.com where you can mix meeting new faces with an activity you enjoy, such as going on an arranged hike, trying out a new restaurant, or watching a movie in a theatre as a group.
Like the person still standing when the music stops during a game of Musical Chairs, it must be unfortunate to be single at a time like this. Or are there alternatives?
If we can become friends on Facebook with people from other countries, then there must still be ways to meet people using all that technology at our disposal. If business meetings can move online, dating can as well.
Just like businesses had Zoom meetings, singles started to meet through virtual dates and virtual chats. They could watch a movie at the same time but at separate locations and chat about it online.
Video chats can be a bit unnerving for some, because you could be face to face with a stranger and conversation is your main activity. Or only activity, which can be terribly unnerving if you’re not cut out for making conversation with a complete (or almost complete) stranger.
In a sense, virtual dating has similarities to online business meetings. Your conversation is the main focus and you’re getting to know each other a lot faster than if you’re meeting in person. You can’t welcome distractions, such as looking at the other people in a restaurant. Or returning to watching the game while you think of your next comment.
If you want to move to the next step – meeting up in person – the conversation can take a turn to some serious questions pretty quick. Early on in the relationship, you may ask about their opinions on health and safety around COVID. Do you meet indoors (riskier) or outdoors (less risky)?
If you’re going to meet in person for the first time, you are taking on an additional element of risk than you would be less than a year ago.
I’ve been to some interesting in-person dating experiences before, like the time my friend invited a couple of us to a crowded mixer full of people and loud music. I couldn’t hear what anyone was saying, and like any jam-packed singles event, not everyone at the event was single. Some were wing men or wing women.
Those experiences have been replaced with physical distancing at businesses. Safe dates now are visits to parks and going on hikes. Bringing a mask and hand sanitizer are commonplace. But just like with online dating, you get to know your date faster when you go for a walk together. You don’t have other activities to focus on, such as going to an escape room or watching a movie, and then talking about it afterwards.
The art of conversation becomes even more important, but you also move the relationship along much faster when you are having deeper conversations. Friendship and relationship building could occur more quickly, instead of one-night stands or ending the first date with a kiss.
Physical distancing has also made it more difficult to meet someone casually in person. Dating sites pre-pandemic suggest casually meeting singles while grocery shopping or going to the art gallery or other public places. Well, with COVID-19, some of those places remain closed, or physical distancing measures are in place. It’s not easy to talk to someone unless you have less than 2 metres between you. It’s also hard to smile to them through your mask if you’re wearing one.
Change In Speed
Relationships are moving at a different speed during COVID-19. Before the first in-person date, you may be asking about the other person’s views on health. Do they believe in wearing masks or physical distancing? How do they feel about getting close when meeting in person for the first time? What about when they think a first kiss is appropriate?
If you include your new date in your life, then how does that impact your social bubble? Do your friends and family have relaxed or strict rules about who to include in your in-person social gatherings? During the pandemic, if you kiss your new love or become physically close or intimate, you risk infecting your family if the one you are dating is asymptomatic. How does your family feel about the risk you are taking on?
You’re dealing with several heavy, serious questions early on in the dating relationship. Like a tangled network, the choices you make with your date affect friends and family in a way they never did before.
Our need to socialize and be with other humans can’t be ignored. When the pandemic first arrived, people were patient as companies moved meetings and some services online. Singles stayed home and kept in touch with friends virtually.
If you’re a single introvert who is happy with little to no social interaction, the pandemic won’t have much impact on your social life.
But if you’re single and hoping for that special someone, pandemic be damned, dating is making a pivot. Technology is changing how we reach out to meet people. How we communicate and what we communicate is changing how we form relationships. It will be interesting to hear “How We Met During the Pandemic” stories at future weddings as COVID-19 continues to reshape how we date.
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