Hadley Tarantino, M.A.
How to Jump Back in the Dating World Post-Pandemic
Social isolation has definitely increased many people's anxiety and particularly social anxiety. People are worried about going back into the dating world because they haven't practiced dating in person close to a year! You may be unsure of how to communicate effectively and impress another person face-to-face after working and dating virtually for so long.
On Working Through Social Anxiety:
To combat anxiety related to getting back into the dating world, remember dating, like many other things, is a skill! And this is an unpracticed skill for many for close to a year. Try to avoid cancelling planned dates due to worries and anxiety. Remember the more you date, the more comfortable it will get as time goes on. To deal with this type of anxiety, try going on shorter dates first. This can expose you to the act of dating in short bursts of time without completely overwhelming you. In exposure therapy we wouldn't throw someone with a fear of swimming in the deep end of a pool in our first session. This is called flooding, and flooding can contribute to high stress and anxiety levels. Similarly when we begin to re-enter the dating scene, it's important to go slowly to effectively become more comfortable with dating. Another tip can be to pick dating activities that aren't completely unfamiliar or scary. Because you may already feel anxiety before the start of the date, we don't want to add even more stress to the situation by also introducing a brand new activity or venue. Try dating in a place or restaurant you've already frequented or picking a loved, low-stress activity.
Vaccinations are definitely going to be a topic on dates. Concern about health and safety are many people's top priority as they reenter the dating world. As vaccine eligibility continues, daters are going to feel more comfortable meeting new people in a closer proximity. Broach this topic with sensitivity and with your boundaries intact. If it is important to you that the people you date are vaccinated, hold firm to your boundaries and ask before you go on the date.