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For Singles And Couples: How To Navigate The Post-COVID Dating Reality

June 7, 2020

Pandating, Part 1

It finally looks like public venues across the country are about to reopen. This means that many of the traditional entertainment and dating spots will become accessible again – at least on a limited basis, and depending on the location. And with restrictions. So how should we all navigate what’s turned into a very complex situation?

Unfortunately, this being an election year, everything has become politically polarized. We now have one side accusing the other of purposely wrecking businesses and making everyone dependent on government handouts. Meanwhile, we have another side practically accusing the first of mass murder for pushing for a reopening too soon. Even wearing protective masks (voluntarily or by mandate) has become subject to partisan quarrels.

A date isn’t a meeting of the minds. It is a meeting of the hearts.

While controversy is great for social media and debates, it is poison for dates. Why? Because dates are supposed to be romantic, enjoyable, and stress free. They are supposed to connect, while controversy and fears divide. No kind of rational reasoning is part of the magic formula for “chemistry” between two people. A date isn’t a meeting of the minds. It is a meeting of the hearts.

This applies to first dates as well as dates with your long term partner, husband or wife.

But how?

But how can we possibly flirt and create romance while looking like a bank robber? And how do we mitigate people’s fears, impatience, and the whole awkwardness of the situation? As a matchmaker, I’m already having to deal with this issue on behalf of clients. These days I find myself mediating between parties trying to negotiate what activity is safe (and legal) enough, when and where to wear a mask, and what kind of mask (how do you even eat with that?), and how to get around showstoppers and inconveniences. (How nice that the beach is now available for walking! What? The beach parking lots and public restrooms are chained off, and the trash is piling up? Now what?)

Frankly, this is challenging, new terrain for all of us. Here’s what I would suggest for now:

  1. Let’s not criticize anyone for being “overly concerned” or “paranoid”, or “killing others” by spreading a deadly virus. That just makes people defensive and ruins every date. And we never know the root of someone’s fear. What if the person has just lost a friend or family member to the virus? What if a person’s economic livelihood is about to be ruined?
  2. Let’s not be overly picky and complicated. We might not be able to eat our favorite food or do our favorite dating activity right now. Talking on the phone or via video chat might not be ideal. Nothing is. But we can also accept this as a challenge to make the best of it. Perhaps this is even a welcome opportunity to see how a potential life partner is able to cope with a crisis?
  3. When ordering food at a restaurant, I asked the waiter how they prepare their chicken. “Nothing special,” he explained. “We just tell them they’re going to die.” Humor is very much part of the magic formula of a great date. Even dark humor. If you can find a way to crack jokes at the absurdness of “pandating” — great! (I’ll tell you a trade secret: a sense of humor and the ability to make the other person laugh are among the most requested matching qualities I hear at work).
  4. Don’t focus on the negative while on a date. This is your time to be entertaining, witty, interesting and flirtatious. Can you put your problems aside and be lighthearted about them while on the date? Trust me: Especially right now, everyone needs cheering up. Nobody ever asked me for a downer date.
  5. Let’s demonstrate patience, compassion and understanding. It’s been inconvenient, worrisome and traumatizing for everyone, but in different ways. Since a date is about bonding over a shared experience, it is also an opportunity to listen to the other person’s experience with this crisis, and to learn with genuine interest, but without judgment.

These are just my views. I’d love to see yours on our social media, so that they may hopefully be inspiring and useful to others.

In Part 2 of this article, we’ll look at some specific “pandating” ideas, their advantages and pitfalls.

The author, Katie Chen is a professional matchmaker and relationship expert. She is the owner of Catch Matchmaking Inc., a boutique dating and relationship agency in Los Angeles, California.

Photos: Gustavo Fring


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