Is connecting with others whilst in quarantine and practicing social distancing possible?

The simple answer is yes. Everyone approaches dating differently; some prefer bars and clubs while others favor social media and dating apps. COVID creates a unique scenario for those who are single and live alone.  How does one meet somebody? Or if they have already met, how do they continue dating? Quarantine and social distancing have made it challenging to connect with others, though not impossible. It will take patience, fortitude, and vulnerability to make an authentic connection. Luckily, there are some good avenues to explore in order to do this.

Pre COVID, most dating conversations started with a text and were followed up with an in person date. Nowadays, the most successful connections can be made by gently easing into a phone or video conversation. Connecting via phone eases the pressure of having to look a certain way and meeting up in an unknown location. While it can be exciting, it can also be anxiety inducing. The phone creates another level of vulnerability because it gets us to express ourselves without editing or filtering. It’s all about connecting on an emotional level first, whereas, in person dating can be clouded by the stress and spectacle of forming a physical connection.

So after you find that person during Covid, how do you maintain your new relationship?

After you have found someone with whom you are interested in connecting, there are a variety of outlets in which you can do so digitally. Some examples of websites and apps that have been made available or became popular since quarantine are Netflix Party, Animal Crossing, and Zoom. Through watching movies, playing games, and chatting, these digital environments allow users to engage together in the comfort of one’s own home. There are even workarounds for dinner dates. Those savvy in the kitchen can make a homemade meal and have it sent to their partner via Uber. A simpler choice could be for both parties to Postmate from the same restaurant and virtually dine together. However you choose to spend time together while apart, creativity will be key. 

On a more psychological level, this will require folks to also be creative in general ways of being in relationships. In other words, we all have our general tendencies around meeting new people and bringing them into our lives (or not). During this time, these tendencies are put to a type of challenge, as the “usual” or “normative” getting-to-know-you steps are not the same these days. For example, if you are used to having a certain amount of dates before you’re comfortable inviting your new date home, these days, they are often invited, albeit virtually, much sooner. This means that people are seeing each other’s living spaces sooner, and thereby, the psychological ways we are in our homes, sooner. And so, although it could be a great opportunity to escalate some intimacy, it could nevertheless easily shake our usual intimacy routines. This is something to consider, and to be thoughtful regarding what, in this virtual home visit, each person is comfortable showing — their pets, their messy desks, their home hair bun — all little pieces of our more private lives. Being aware of this could be a lovely chance to talk about this exact process and discovering together how it feels like to “visit” each other in our natural habitats sooner than perhaps later in pre-COVID days. Such reflections, in your own mind as well as with your new romantic partner, are important in order to maintain the relationship in the clearest way possible.

In conclusion, online dates and getting-to-know-you chats require openness of heart and creativity of mind during COVID.

And so, hope is not lost. Even if it looks differently these days, keep in mind that you, too, can connect during COVID. Utilizing the same social media platforms – you may have to go through the bad eggs (nothing new here) until you find someone you can connect with on a more meaningful level (new opportunity to discover that meaning together). Be patient, practice fortitude, and be vulnerable with someone worthy to develop an authentic connection, during these unprecedented times. The good news is that despite the fact that each of us experiences this period differently in some ways, there also some common feelings around which any of us, new or old relationships, can connect.

If you are experiencing some anxiety or mixed feelings around dating or connecting with new people during COVID, therapy might be a good place to process these feelings and figure out the next step around this. Feel free to contact us by phone or email or read about our team of socially-conscious therapists.

I’m Suzanne Ovanesyan, MA, one of the therapists you could see at Wright Institute Los Angeles where we offer Affordable Therapy for Everyday People!

Suzanne is a doctoral candidate of Applied Clinical Psychology at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology and holds a Master’s in Psychology from Webster Vienna Private University. She has completed training in Vienna, Austria and recently completed training at The Chicago School Counseling Center in West Los Angeles. Suzanne has experience working with individuals suffering from trauma, substance use, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, personality disorders, and identity development. Suzanne works from a psychodynamic perspective and focuses on the whole person. She believes that the root of pain and suffering stems from a person’s inability to love themselves. As a therapist, she focuses on creating a safe environment where patient can express and explore their feelings, which will cultivate healing in the process.