- First dates have always been challenging, but first dates during the pandemic have a whole new layer of complexity.
- Insider spoke to Maria Sullivan, Dating.com’s vice president and dating expert, and Dr. Melissa Robinson-Brown, a New York City-based therapist, on four tips to bust awkwardness on your first date.
- Getting to know the person is still the priority, but some necessary conversations about COVID may actually help.
- Don’t worry about being out of practice with socialising, it could be that you two just don’t have chemistry.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
First dates are always primed for awkward disaster. Your date could talk too much about themselves, chew with their mouth open, be rude, or just be painfully boring.
But the pandemic adds a whole new layer to first date awkwardness.
We aren’t socialising and congregating in person as we did pre-COVID. And, since the virus can spread asymptomatically, every new meeting should, in theory, involve an interrogation about how seriously they have been socially distancing.
Maria Sullivan, Dating.com‘s vice president, told Insider the added difficulty of dating during the pandemic shouldn’t necessarily stop you from seeking romantic fulfillment.
“Although the pandemic has created a few more barriers for those looking to pursue a love life, it is still possible to safely find that special someone who can also become added support,” Sullivan said. “It is important to welcome love into your life even during difficult times.”
Insider spoke to Sullivan and Dr. Melissa Robinson-Brown, a New York City-based therapist, on the best tips to approaching first date jitters in 2020.
It’s best not to start with talk about the pandemic
According to Sullivan, the pandemic shouldn’t change the basic structure of your first date. The point is to get to know the person in front of you â€” digitally or in-person â€” and see if you two are comparable.
What are their interests? Are they dog person, cat person, or bunny person? What’s their favourite flavour of frozen yogurt? Ask the questions you need to see if you two are a good fit.
“When discussing the typical first date topics like careers, hobbies, family, friends, plans for the future, etc. think about asking for your date’s outlook on the current state of the world â€” it can provide so much clarity into the type of person they are when times are tough,” Sullivan said.
But don’t be afraid to talk about how you’re feeling about the state of the world
While the pandemic can feel heavy to talk about, understanding their view of things and how they have been doing during the last few months can bring you closer.
Learning their coping skills, and how they react to pressure or stress can tell you a lot about if you two will be comparable.
“It’s important to talk and be real about how you are feeling,” Sullivan said. “If your date is truly interested in pursuing their connection with you, they will want to become part of your support system.”
Be open about your thoughts on social distancing and safety
It can feel like a mood killer, but it’s important to discuss how have been approaching the pandemic.
If your views on safety and social distancing differ, it can mean the relationship isn’t meant to be and you should cut losses sooner rather than later. This conversation is actually great for dating because it can tell you how they set boundaries and approach serious issues like consent.
“Don’t beat around the bush. Everyone has been impacted by COVID-19, so asking about social distancing practices is not that outside of the norm,” Robinson-Brown told Insider.
She said she recommends people starting the conversation with, “I’m super excited to meet you in person, but I think we should share about our social distancing practices so we can both make an informed decision about whether or not we feel comfortable meeting.”
If you two have different views on mask-wearing, seeing friends, and riskier activities like indoor dining and bars, Sullivan recommends reconsidering if you two will have a second date.
“If you bring up the topic and it impacts your dates attitude, I would advise you to proceed with caution,” Sullivan said.
Maybe you two just don’t have chemistry
The pandemic has deprived us all of regular social interactions in some shape or form, so it’s natural to feel a little rusty at small talk.
But if the lulls continue, it might not just be jitters from not socialising in a while.
“Lulls in conversation existed before the pandemic and they will exist after too,” Sullivan said. “If you have run out of things to talk about, don’t blame the pandemic â€” it most likely is a result of a lack of connection or initial chemistry.”
Don’t be afraid to trust your gut, and not schedule a second date.
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