A Practical Guide for Dating During a Pandemic
Why we're wired to fall in love in risky situations and how to do it safely.
Posted May 18, 2020 | Reviewed by Lybi Ma
Is it really possible to find love in the time of Corona? If you look at the number of articles using this play on words in its title, the answer is a resounding yes.
But is it wise? At first glance, successful dating during prolonged catastrophe sounds unlikely, but according to some experts, pursuing a relationship in a pandemic facilitates the prime conditions for romance.
“For the first time in our lifetime, we've been told to stop everything that keeps us so busy most of the time,” says Sarrah Rose, a sex and relationship coach. “That busyness is what has gotten in the way of forming lasting relationships.”
Being stuck in quarantine also ensures that we can nurture an authentic emotional connection. She explains, “We have the possibility of getting to know people better before we ever meet them, and right now we're craving intimacy and connection more than ever before.”
However, as we’ve been told throughout these trying times, it’s best to proceed with caution. The following are a few best practices to follow before falling in love during the lockdown.
Make sure to have the right reasons
Is it that you’re simply looking for someone to fill a loneliness void or are you really looking for love? Before embarking on a Zoom relationship with someone new, first assess what it is you really need right now.
“Going into a relationship depleted isn’t the best idea,” advises relationship coach Sara Russell. “What we want when we are experiencing scarcity, competition, or danger, is different than what we want when we are feeling a sense of optimism, empowerment, and abundance.”
In other words, avoid making rash decisions that might feel good in the moment, but likely won’t result in long-term relationship success (especially, if that’s what you’re after).
Focus on the internal, not the external
Regardless of what’s happening to you both in the physical environment, your focus needs to be on what’s going on internally. That is to say, the best conditions for pursuing a relationship simply require “open and clear communication with each other,” says dating coach Adam Lyons.
For example, if you’re an essential worker or a medical worker, being upfront is key. “If you’re being directly affected by the pandemic, be clear about that,” he says. It’s fine to say, “I may not be as emotionally available as normal.” As long as both parties are “mature enough to handle the relationship,” it can still thrive.
Take your time… and think twice before making any big moves
Take advantage of being in lockdown to really get to know your potential partner and figure out if they’re a good fit… especially before getting physical with them, suggests psychotherapist Rebecca Ogle. “When new couples rush into sexual activity, it sometimes sabotages what would otherwise have been a great match.”
In the same vein, author and clinical social worker, Jana Edwards advises taking extra caution before committing to any big or important decisions. This is because when our brains become hyper-aroused in times of high stress, the right hemisphere, which is predominantly focused on survival, gets activated and causes people to "seek safety in much more desperate ways than they normally would.” Oftentimes, when the right brain is in charge, people tend to make “poor, often irrational decisions”—which, obviously, isn’t the best foundation for a successful relationship.
Why we want to fall in love during a crisis
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that if you’re alone, it’s perfectly normal to desire a relationship right now. The truth is we may be naturally wired to do so. Licensed marriage and family therapist Nicole Arzt explains,
“Evolution would suggest that we're more primed to connect and mate with others during high-risk situations. That's because we naturally feel more vulnerable and weak. To increase our chances at survival, we seek support to pool our resources and collectively increase our strength. Nobody likes to feel alone, and in stressful situations, we're more inclined than ever to want to find someone!”
In fact, our sex drive increases when our survival becomes "questionable," says Patricia Celan, a psychiatry resident at Dalhousie University. "[P]eople are more eager to procreate and therefore pass on their genes as much as possible, in case they themselves do not survive." She adds that this behavior could explain why people are flouting social distancing guidance and still pursuing romantic encounters with others. While not the wisest thing to do, it is understandable.
In the meantime, practice safe romance and good luck out there.
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