After living through a pandemic for the last fourteen months, we have all had to cope with being isolated and alone. With the most recent CDC update, those who are fully vaccinated are allowed to go maskless in both outdoor and indoor environments. This opens new opportunities for meeting and interacting with others, which will likely only compound as the summer continues. You may be eager to get back out there and start looking for someone to love. Here are some things to keep in mind when dating post-pandemic.
- Do not feel any desperation to make up for lost time
By nature, the pandemic forced people to slow down, “this is the greatest excuse for you to stop dating. Get off the hamster wheel, figure out what you want,” says Loari O’Halloran Edison, Certified Life Coach, Certified Social and Emotional Intelligence Coach and creator of Break the Dating Code podcast. The most important thing to remember when beginning to date again is the purpose behind withdrawing socially in the last year. Do not feel any desperation to make up for lost time. The last year was used for self-preservation and growth. There is no need to view the past year as a waste even if you had no romantic prospects throughout.
If you feel like you don’t know how to prepare yourself for dating you are not alone. O’Halloran Edison says, “we prepare for college, we prepare for our careers. We spend so much time doing this, but this one area of our lives, which is arguably the most important part of our life that affects everything else — we don’t spend any time preparing for it, because we don’t know how to.”
- Be your best self and be consistent at it
The fastest way to finding a person is to be operating as your best self consistently. We are human, and by no means perfect, so you don’t have to be acting as your best self all of the time, but it should be a personal objective to get to a point where you are able to function at your highest potential most of the time. If not, and you are seeking a partnership while you are not satisfied with yourself, you are going to attract people in the same circumstances who are also not operating as the best version of themselves, “that’s where dating goes wrong. It’s actually not in the dating process. It’s the work we do before we go out and date,” says O’Halloran Edison.
- Figure out your values and priorities
So how can you begin operating as your best self to prepare for dating? Figure out your values. This can be things like kindness, honesty, creativity, etc. Once you know what values are important to you, you can look at your own actions and see if they reflect what is important to you.
How can you know if someone aligns with your values? They can first tell you with their words. O’Halloran Edison advocates for asking someone about their values directly, “we’re very passive, when it comes to dating without realizing it. We’re afraid to ask these questions and are afraid to be honest and upfront, because we’re afraid the other person will run away, but if you are both interested you will both be open to those questions.” You shouldn’t be afraid to have a mature conversation about what is important to you in life, and if they run away from that level of intimacy then that should be a pretty clear sign that they are not ready for a commitment that is worth putting your time and energy into. These are great ways to get an initial insight to someone’s values, but keep in mind that you should always be aware of whether their actions match those values. Someone can tell you how they would act a million times, but if they aren’t acting that way, they aren’t respecting your values or their own.
- Establish a foundation of trust and love with yourself
Trust is a huge factor in relationships, but the most important thing is establishing a foundation of trust and love with yourself. This means not compromising your values or priorities by trying someone into your life who doesn’t quite fit what is important to you. Listen to your heart and trust what it tells you about the people in your life. It is important to be able to trust that you will walk away once you know when someone isn’t right for you, whatever the reason may be.
- Know that working on yourself is a continuous process
After the last fourteen months, you have been surviving a global pandemic and learning self-preservation, reliance, and perseverance. You should recognize and congratulate yourself for all that you have been through in the past year. Don’t turn around and date someone that won’t value you in the same way and in the way that you deserve. After learning your own value, remember that you must maintain a separate identity from your partner, and that working on yourself is a continuous process. Argov says, “It shouldn’t just be something you are doing during the pandemic, it should be something you are doing always — to always strive to be better and to grow. To always try to be more independent, to be soul searching, to be self-reliant and to be pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps.” And if you don’t feel confident in yourself or feel that you aren’t operating at your best self, you don’t have to jump right back into dating just because the pandemic is ending! Remember to stick to the boundaries you set and to stay authentic with those you are trying to pursue.
It’s already hard to date in normal times, and it is no shock that a global pandemic made it more difficult. We are now given the opportunity to return to normal living, so guard your heart and stay true to yourself when getting back out there.
Written by Courtney Adema
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