Are We Finding It Harder to Connect Right Now and Is It Impacting Our Dating Life?

Instagram / @dr.lurve

Don’t worry, it’s not just you.

After not having physical contact or proper verbal communication with anyone outside of our household for the good part of the last two years, it’s totally understandable that we’re struggling to connect with new people right now.

We’re completely out of practise. What was once a casual trip to the bar down the road to flirt with some bartenders and have a drink with someone you met on Tinder, is now a totally anxiety-ridden scenario.

I don’t know about you, but even going out with a group of friends I haven’t seen in a few months is exhausting. I’m so stressed that I’ve forgotten how to go with the flow and be myself in public?

But don’t stress, many of us are feeling that way. Especially those of us who are going on IRL dates right now.

My friend went on a first date on the weekend and she was sh*tting herself. She called me three times on the way there because she needed to distract herself and stop overthinking.

“I just feel like I’m going to act like such an idiot,” she said to me, her voice trembling over the phone.

“I don’t even know if I remember how to flirt!”

After literally years of Zoom dates, connecting online or over the phone and maybe going on a masked walk… it’s safe to say that dating has looked very different during COVID-19.

Love and Relationships Coach Dr Lurve says it’s totally normal to be feeling nervous and stressed about dating IRL again.

“The dating game has changed dramatically since the pandemic, especially when it comes to lockdowns that last months (and what feels like years) on end,” Dr Lurve tells POPSUGAR Australia.

Lockdowns, in particular, have changed how we socialise with friends, family and potential lovers—people that used to be extroverted and outgoing are finding their social skills are lacking coming out of lockdown, and the dating scene has become collateral damage.”

There isn’t really a more stressful social situation than walking into a bar to meet someone you’ve never met IRL before. It’s a kind of make-or-break moment that could determine whether you enter into a blossoming relationship, situationship or actually find that there’s no chemistry at all.

“With online dating booming over the past years, accelerating over the pandemic, it makes sense that we are finding it harder to truly connect with people in real life,” Dr. Lurve says.

“Becoming digitally-reliant has made dating in the real world much more daunting; I’ve come up with a few ways you can take on the dating world and get back out there!”

Obviously, we asked her what these ways were, and she delivered.

Here are five things to remember while easing back into dating IRL:

Don’t Take It Too Seriously

You might’ve been talking to someone for a few weeks now online and thanks to lockdown lifting, you can actually meet up for that coffee! Dating in any form should be a fun way for you to get out there and have a good time, whether you’re looking for a potential long-term partner or not. The less seriously you take dating, the more likely you are to stumble across someone you want to keep spending time with, without putting out a needy vibe.

Be Present and Confident

Giving off a cool and confident energy is all about faking it ‘til you make it – you might be shitting it on the inside, but outside you look cooler than a cucumber in a G&T. When you finally meet your date in person, remember to step out with confidence in your favourite outfit and remember to smile throughout the date. This supports research from SmileDirectClub which revealed a third (33 per cent) of Aussies admit they are most attracted to a person’s smile, and more than a third (35 per cent) believe someone who smiles at them is confident.

Be Affectionate

What the pandemic has taught us, if anything, is to stay socially distanced. Between this, not seeing other people for centuries, and lacking human contact, it’s no wonder we are dying for some affection. Within reason, you should get close to your date in real life; whether it’s with an arm touch, hand hold as you walk together, or kiss goodnight. Don’t be afraid to get close and personal – it might be weird at first, but you’ll get the hang of it again, it’s like riding a bike.

Keep It Light

This might be a no-brainer, but with all the political turmoil that’s been going on in the media, it’s best to keep topics light on the first few dates. Try to avoid talking about politics, religion and stance on vaccinations – this stuff will eventually come up, but you need to feel comfortable and confident when discussing these issues. Remember to respect others and if their views and values don’t align with yours, you can amicably part ways.

Aim to Keep It Real

By this, I mean try to get out of the habit of online dating and chatting to someone for months on end before meeting up. I’m sure it’s a force of habit for many, and now more than ever we’ve become reliant on digital dating – now that lockdowns are lifting and most people are getting vaxxed, we’ll be out and about more than ever.

Try to lock in dates in public with possible lovers and get back into the groove of going outside your comfort zone; the only way to build confidence back is to keep putting yourself out there! Don’t forget to smile too, research by SmileDirectClub has proven that it makes people think you are friendly and approachable (69 per cent) as well as warm and welcoming (62 per cent).

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