The pandemic has impacted pretty much every aspect of my life, from my work to social interactions and even my dating life. Since lockdown and health consciousness meant that I couldn’t do the things I normally would, I was kind of forced to look at dating and romantic relationships in a new light, and I think my love life is better for it.
It’s made me more cautious about who I date.
In the thick of the pandemic, I started having “COVID talks” with potential partners. I wanted to know whether they were being safe in their interactions with others. I needed to know that they were wearing masks, washing their hands frequently, and getting vaccinated. If someone I was talking to wasn’t interested in having this conversation, I took it as a red flag. A person who doesn’t care about protecting themselves and their community in such a precarious time is not worth getting to know.
I’ve learned to deprioritize sex in my romantic interactions.
Before the pandemic, sex used to be at the top of my priority list. Dating was about how fast I could get the other person into bed. I’d quickly use interest if the sexual chemistry wasn’t causing sparks to fly off right away. But after going months without sex or even the possibility of it, it’s stopped being the most important part of my relationships. I’m spending more time getting to know the people I date and actually building a connection that might eventually lead to sex.
Each date has become more precious.
Pre-pandemic, I was going on lots of dates, constantly moving from one person to another. But then quarantine and other restrictions kicked and I couldn’t do that anymore. Even the prospect of juggling multiple dates became too mentally exhausting coupled with everything that was going on. So I had to spend a longer time getting to know the people I connected with and each experience carried more weight in my mind.
I’m more intentional about what I want.
Another way the pandemic has changed my views on love is that I am now very clear about what I’m looking for in a relationship and partner. I’ve had time to really think about my standards, what’s most important to me, and what I absolutely won’t stick around for. I have little interest in playing games anymore or being cryptic about my desires. And when I find a person that ticks all the right boxes, I treasure them.
Vulnerability comes more easily.
The stress of dealing with the pandemic and all its implications has stripped away the last bit of pretenses that I have. I’m more aware than ever of how short life can be and I don’t want to waste any more of it hiding myself and my feelings away. I find it easier to confide in people now. To just open up and say what I’m feeling whether good or bad. I don’t have to make it difficult for people to get to know me. Life is hard enough already.
I’m exploring other forms of intimacy.
When you can’t meet up with people and do all the physical things you normally would, you have to invent new ways to stay connected. I’ve been on dates where we didn’t touch or kiss the whole time, just talked to my dates while working six feet apart. I’ve fully embraced virtual dates and unconventional dating activities. I’ve taken candle-making classes, dance classes, gotten my palms read, played games, and cooked dinner over video with a date all from the comfort of my home.
Communication has become my most valued dating currency.
I used to underestimate just how strongly you can bond with a person by simply talking to them. But since the pandemic, I’ve changed my tune on that. I judge potential lovers by the quality of conversations I have with them. If the communication feels forced or is practically non-existent, I’m going to move on to someone else. The prize is someone I can comfortably sit and talk for hours with about anything.
I’m learning to slow down and really get to know people.
Prior to the pandemic, dating for me was basically start something first then worry about getting to know them later. But without the constant stimulation and the superficial ways we usually connect with other people, I’m now doing that in reverse. I get to learn as much about potential partners as I can before even meeting them in person. I get to find out if we’re actually compatible and whether I vibe with them on a real level before things get complicated.
The old playbook has gone out the window.
The pandemic has given me a crash course in how to work at relationships as well as how to decide what my values are and what I want from the people I engage with emotionally. I also know how to communicate and put the effort in even when it’s difficult and how to nourish affection and keep love alive, plus how to keep relationships interesting and spontaneous over distances and absences. For me, dating feels like a brave new world and I’m more optimistic than ever.