How to enjoy dating as the world returns to normal

For many of us like myself who live in Ontario, Canada – 76% of our citizens have now received their 1st dose of the Covid vaccine and 20% the 2nd. Our cases have drastically gone down to below 300 per day, such a far cry from over 8000 in the fall of 2020. After close to 15 months of fear & isolation, we prepare to enter stage 2. Smiles have returned to faces as people can finally begin to socialize once again and embrace hope that this will all be over soon. You can feel the change in collective energy as people start to plan events and travel. Joy has returned to people’s lives! But in terms of dating and romance, after all this time – how do we go about finding love again?

How can I protect my safety and/or respect the concerns of others?

After such a long period of unexpected crisis, it’s going to take a while for many to feel safe again. Each one of us is going to have different comfort levels regarding interaction and will get back to a pre-Covid state in our own time. Protection on a date used to mean arriving and returning safely (having a backup friend to call) or birth control and STD testing if things went really well but now Covid vaccination can be added to that list. As with any issue pertaining to your protection – boundaries are key. You decide what you are comfortable with ahead of time and stick to it. If you do not feel comfortable being outside on a walking date without a mask, then politely insist upon it ahead of time until your comfort level has increased. The last thing you want to do is start to compromise your boundaries as it will only affect your stress levels and will inevitably affect the outcome of your date. We all need to take it slow and steady as life gets back to normal and respect that some will be overly cautious, and others may be a little overzealous after being isolated for so long. Now is a time for patience and to reserve judgment. Studies have shown relationships have actually been stronger during this time as a result. If ever there was a time to allow for a second date – it’s now. If you feel some sort of connection, give it a chance, see what unfolds without compromising what you know you need in order to be fulfilled.

Where can I meet people in person?

So, you’ve had enough Netflix and Zoom chats. You’re ready to venture out into public to start searching for a potential mate. However, it’s been so long you are not sure where to look. Here are a few general suggestions:

  1. Make a list of all your interests, things you never imagined but wanted to try
  2. Think about the person you might want to be with – list what their interests be. Search Meetup and event listings, clubs, etc. for related activities that you could participate in
  3. What about your work or skillset – anything you could get involved with? A retreat, a course, conference?
  4. Why not organize an event yourself?
  5. Ask family, friends, colleagues to be on the lookout for you – just like a job hunt, great success can come from a direct connection.

The key is to always be aware of opportunities. KEEP YOUR HEAD UP AND YOUR EYES OPEN. I know specifically in Toronto we tend to walk around buried in our phones refusing to make eye contact, so we rarely notice those around us. Keep that genuine smile on your face and tell yourself that every situation is a potential opportunity. Smiling at people single or not is also a way to brighten up anyone’s day! Take risks and talk to people you think could be interesting, buy a coffee for the person in line behind you – what do you really have to lose?

What can I do for dating experiences?

After being cooped up for so long, get outside and enjoy the great weather! If it’s your first date, I suggest a quick and easy, no-pressure meet-up that eases any time, money, and emotional investment that tends to drag people down when it doesn’t work out. The best is to meet for a walk but if that’s not your cup of tea, grab a coffee or a drink on a patio. Or grab one to take out and sit on a bench to chat. Once. you know there is a real connection – on date two you can get more creative like a picnic, longer hike, bike ride, market, festival, lunch, dinner, etc.

Most importantly, just relax as much as possible and have fun! Enjoy the fact that you are able to get out and socialize again. Do not overthink, over-plan, or overcomplicate things! It will only put up roadblocks, leaving you frustrated with the dating process. Stay open to new possibilities and see each experience as a steppingstone leading you to great love.

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