Dating is fun, right? No? The jury is out. But one thing’s for sure, dating looks way different now than it did even just a few years ago. Technology keeps on reinventing the ways in which we connect with our fellow humans–which, in turn, impacts how we behave when we’re in a new relationship. So, when it comes to dating, how do you know what to do? You may be surprised to find that it has less to do with what to wear and more to do with how you communicate.
COVID’s impact on your dating life
We can’t talk about dating without acknowledging the impact the pandemic has had on every aspect of it. As with everything, dating went online in 2020. That means instead of meeting up at your favorite hangout, you were most likely left swiping left or right while sitting on your couch in your pajamas. “There had been online dating apps in place before. But once social distancing became widespread, the only way for many people to meet others was through their smartphone.”
Now that distancing has (mostly) passed, singles are beginning to mingle again, but many of them are singing a different tune. During quarantine, people started to think differently about their own lives, wants, needs, and desires. For many, this was a chance to ask, “what do I really want?” which leads to some new etiquette when it comes to dating.
Keep your options open
During COVID, options were limited, as was the pool of candidates. When creating an online profile, you can customize it so much that you may end up only seeing a certain demographic of other singles. Although this can be a great asset for those who know what they want (i.e., someone completely different from your ex), it also may keep you from exploring a connection. There are plenty of people who may, from the looks of their profile, not fit in with your “type,” but who also happen to be a potential match. The best way to sidestep this issue? Consider what you want, but keep an open mind.
Keeping your options open isn’t just relegated to who you choose to look at on a dating app. In fact, a huge part of staying open-minded is opening yourself to new experiences away from the app store. Singles these days may be heavily concentrated online, but don’t forget about good old-fashioned face-to-face connections. Who knows, you may meet someone you really like at a friend’s Halloween party, or while dropping off your dry cleaning.
Once you meet your perfect someone, it’s time to consider how to proceed. Dating etiquette has changed, but that doesn’t mean you can’t jump on the bandwagon. Just make sure you think about the following new trends:
Many daters these days highly appreciate direct communication. No more of the “hard to get” or “mystery girl” ideals that have long plagued dating culture. The best way to make sure you’re doing your part in your budding relationship is to communicate your wants and needs clearly and then actively listen to your partner’s. It is also helpful to communicate early on about what you want out of a relationship. For instance, if you really want something serious, make sure your partner is on the same page.
You can also use this chance to set boundaries for yourself. Do you want to wait to become intimate until after a few dates? Or are you open to exploring now? What about giving out your phone number? Do you expect to communicate via text, or phone calls? Keeping things direct and up front for the person you are dating means you will have less confusion in the future.
You’re not for everyone
As hard as it is to be single sometimes, it can teach you lessons about who you are. Not only does this help you understand yourself more within the dynamic of a relationship, but it can also decrease your temptation to morph into someone else for a new partner. You should feel like yourself in a relationship instead of someone your partner wants you to be. And remember, at the end of the day, you need to be the right person for you and nobody else.
Keep it low key and enjoyable
If you are meeting someone from an app for the first time, try to keep it low key. That means you don’t need to shell out big bucks for a nice dinner. Instead, opt for a coffee date. As you get to know each other, try to keep things relaxed, and remember that dating is supposed to be fun. Sure, you will need to have tough discussions and you may have disagreements, but overall, you should enjoy getting to know one another. And if you don’t? Then it’s OK to move on.
Whether you are dating for fun or to find something more serious, it probably feels like a whole new post-pandemic world out there. Even though it can be a jungle sometimes, just remember that there are some truly excellent people out there waiting to get to know you. Keep your options open, get to know yourself and what you want and then don’t be afraid to speak your desires and boundaries in your relationship. Don’t forget to have some fun!