Thursday, May 30, 2024

Your Fear of Dating Is Real

My opinion about dating is not different than my advice about life itself – don’t miss out on something that could be great just because it could also be difficult.

But Before You Return to Swiping, You Should Read This

As public places begin to reopen, the act of dating is about to turn on its head yet again.

Last April, people were taking to online dating in massive numbers, resigning themselves to Zoom dates and phone calls in lieu of making in-person connections. Now, a very enthusiastic summer dating scene awaits as lockdowns ease up and daters prepare to put themselves out there again.

But before the masks come flying off, it’s imperative to remember the importance of safety in this particular situation. We’re not out of the woods just yet and aside from continued guidance of our physical health, a comprehensive mental health check may be needed as well.

That anxiety and stress you feel just thinking about returning to a large group setting is quite real. And when it comes to sitting across from someone and making conversation? That’s FODA (fear of dating again), a term coined by Hinge earlier this year, and being out of practice when it comes to flirting and charming banter can leave a person mute without much to contribute during a new encounter.

That said, there’s no reason to stay completely out of the game when there are a combination of options to continue social distanced dating all while adjusting to new online dating strategies.

How to Overcome Your Fear of Dating Again

“It’s common for people who haven’t been dating for an extended period of time to feel anxious about dating,” says Tina B. Tessina, PhD, psychotherapist and author of Dr. Romance’s Guide to Finding Love Today. “[It’s] like they don’t know how to behave or what the new rules might be.”

And there are many reasons that might’ve left you taking a hiatus from the dating world. Dipping a toe in can be intimidating, regardless of your situation or how many people you’ve dated prior to this re-emergence.

“This happens for people who have been off the market for a number of reasons: you were in a committed relationship for several years, and are now either broken up, divorced or widowed; you were avoiding dating to focus on your career, school, or being a single parent; or you stopped dating along with the whole world. Now, after finally becoming adjusted to your experience with only your pod (family or friends or roommates) or alone, it feels daunting to get out there again.”

We’ve mentioned slowly but surely getting back out there several times, but the real question is: How? What does that actually mean to get out there again and how can you mentally prepare for your next break after an extended period to yourself? Let Rachel DeAlto, Chief Dating Expert for Match, explain.

“Set a goal — 1 date per week. 3 messages a day,” she tells AskMen. “Create a manageable goal to work towards as you step back into the pool.”

She also says having a self-loving and optimistic approach when it comes to dating can be more empowering than you might think. “Mindset matters, adds DeAlto. “Whether you put a post it note on your mirror, a reminder on your phone, or use a mantra, remind yourself that you are worthy of amazing love.”

The main idea here is to ease into dating while setting mindful boundaries. Pace yourself as a way to control the jitters and prevent signs of overeagerness with the first person you’re able to embrace after months holed up in your apartment alone.

“Responsible dating in this current situation means slowing down, developing a connection before actually being face to face, and being careful,” says Tessina. “For the people who are taking care, this can be a very good thing because it slows activity down and gives couples a chance to develop their relationship more thoroughly. Social distancing can also be an opportunity to be more creative in how you connect with each other.”

Bringing Up The Reality On A Date

There are proud declarations across various dating app profile bios from people sharing their vaccination status. Love it or hate it, this has become a way for eager daters to signal their commitment to safety and should be trusted for in-person dates.

However, this inclusion shouldn’t necessarily provide immediate relief when it comes to being face-to-face with potential romantic interests. Just like with various other profile details — height, weight, job, to name a few — not everything people present online should be taken at face value. Being mindful about dating means building trust over time by asking questions. And if ground rules about safety need to be made, so be it.

“Bring the topic up before the first meeting, if possible,” says Tessina. “Ask your potential date how they feel about social distancing, mask wearing, pods, and getting the vaccine as soon as possible. You can start with, ‘How have you been surviving?’ Also share what you’ve been doing about these topics. Share if you’re vaccinated, and ask if your potential date is. If you both are, then discuss what you think your precautions should be.”

Do not waiver when it comes to respecting your level of comfortability, and to stick to what makes you feel safe. After all, it’s probably not a good sign if your potential date doesn’t listen to your concerns and vice versa.

“If you have an opinion that affects your health about how you want to proceed dating-wise, be unapologetic about it,” states DeAlto. “You are entitled to whatever position you choose for your own health.”

Making the Most of Dating Today

People have learned to adapt to many things (dating included). Tessina reminds daters that when it comes to meeting people out in the real world, anything can happen and to keep your options open.

“You can meet people anywhere: online at the bank, in the grocery store, at Starbucks,” she says. “Even though you have masks on, strike up a conversation: ‘Have you ever tried this item?’ ‘How do you like it?’ You won’t know anything about anyone unless you speak up and have a conversation.”

For those sticking to apps, DeAlto suggests being a little more curious with your line of questioning.

“Curiosity is key in any conversation online or off,” she says. “Ask them questions about their photos or profile. Get curious about where they are from, or how they ended up in their profession.”

Above all else, ask yourself this question: Are you ready to date? Trusting yourself is the way to go in this situation. When people overthink and stress about their dating lives, they often forget the most important relationship they’ll ever be in is the one with themselves.

Slow and steady wins the race, especially when building a relationship with someone new. Worldwide vaccinations are a huge stepping stone as we head to a level of normalcy again, but they can’t protect you from a broken heart if you rush into the dating world again too soon.

Harvey Black
Harvey Black
Yes, I'm old school. I have good manners. I open the door for a lady. I'm romantic & gentle at times. I respect all women and genuinely provide compliments. For some it might seem like a weakness, but my chivalry leaves women breathless. It's no right or wrong way, it's just the gentleman way.

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