Dating and the pursuit of a relationship is often fraught with challenges. Our lives are full and complicated, which can push dating to the backburner. “Living a rushed lifestyle leads to living life on autopilot and dating found its place in our busy lifestyle as just another mindless task,” says numerologist and relationship coach Sidhharrth S. Kumaar.
The obstacles to dating grew exponentially with the pandemic, so it’s no surprise people have become more discerning and are taking their quests for love more seriously today than a few years ago.
A survey of 1,000 people by SoSyncd, a dating app launched in April 2020 that matches people based on personality compatibility, found that respondents have started dating more authentically and place more importance on personality and deeper connections since the pandemic.
One of the main reasons? “People have taken time to reflect, work on themselves, and figure out what they’re looking for in a partner,” said SoSyncd co-founder and relationship expert Jessica Alderson. “It sounds obvious, but if you don’t know who you truly are, then you can’t share your authentic self with other people, which is essential if you want to build a meaningful connection.”
This is a scenario that Lucy Taylor, 28, of Los Angeles, knows well. “Before the pandemic, I was always on the go and I never took the time to sit down and reflect,” she says. “When I was forced to do this during lockdown, it was a shock at first, but I now feel like I know myself so much better and this has positively impacted my relationships.”
That introspection has caused people to reevaluate their priorities when it comes to their love lives. This means a greater focus on a potential partner’s emotional maturity over physical attractiveness, according to Match’s 2021 “Singles in America” study.
It’s a new trend in the approach to dating, especially among women, explains dating and relationships coach Lisa Van Loo. She says that in her experience, initial attraction and looks aren't signals of long-term compatibility. “Yes, physical and sexual attraction is essential, but that can grow over time; having an emotional or intellectual connection is more important.”
Loo made this shift herself, too. “In my past dating life, I tended to let my initial attraction cloud my better judgment,” she says. She recognizes that she often became emotionally attached before taking time to determine her long-term compatibility with a partner, and had to learn to adapt a “more logical” approach in order to achieve a different outcome.
Loo recommends considering factors such as life goals, spirituality and financial habits — as well as any personal values and traits you seek in a partner — when assessing compatibility.
More Mindful of Time
The pandemic gave us a lot of time to think about exactly that: how we spend our time. The loneliness of lockdowns “led people to acknowledge the missing parts of their lives,” Kumaar explains. “Time’s more precious to people than it’s ever been.” This has led to an increased focus on efficiency when it comes to dating.
One way daters are minimizing potential time-wasting is by prioritizing video dates. According to SoSyncd’s survey, 30% of respondents now prefer to meet first via video. The appeal: Not only are virtual dates a safer option (especially amid the ongoing pandemic), they save on the time it typically takes to prepare for and commute to in-person dates.
“It’s not the most romantic thing to say, but one of my favorite things about virtual dating is the efficiency,” says Andrew Jones, 41, of New York. “Including traveling time, an in-person date usually takes at least three hours out of my day and sometimes much more.” A video chat can dramatically reduce this time investment.
Another movement in the path to dating more efficiently is “date stacking,” or scheduling multiple first dates (such as a lunch date, coffee date and dinner date) on the same day in close succession.
“Date stacking is the ultimate dating hack for people who are busy but want to prioritize meeting someone,” said Alexis Germany, dating expert and coach at Glamcheck. “Now the dater only has to get dressed once and can make multiple connections in just one day.” There’s another benefit too, she adds: Having another date lined up provides a genuine reason to cut things short and avoid getting trapped in marathon dates.
The idea is to cut down on the number of superficial connections and invest more quality time getting to know the people who’ve shown potential as a mate.
Sober dating also helps people more readily recognize whether a potential mate is a good fit, Kumaar explains. “Not only does drinking make your date appear more attractive than your sober self would find them, you even end up ignoring the red flags,” he said. “When you remove alcohol from the scene, you have a better understanding of the kind of person your date is, whether you enjoy spending time with them and if your values lie on the same page.”
Another positive takeaway of sober-minded dating is that people don’t need to feel limited to traditional scenes like bars to find prospective dates. Haley Helveston, spiritual life coach for women and host of the “Your Guide to Love” podcast, tells her female clients, “You can meet potential partners everywhere.” For example, Helveston was once asked out while on a hike.
People also don’t need to restrict their first dates to places that serve alcohol. Some dry date options can include a coffee date, playing crazy golf or visiting a gallery or museum.
The silver lining of the crushing loneliness experienced by many in lockdown is that it crystallized what truly matters to them. That ushered in a new sense of mindfulness about dating that has the potential to cultivate more lasting and satisfying relationships for everyone.
Did you meet a potential partner during the pandemic? Tell us your story.
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