Most of this happened last night while I was coaching a group of smart, strong, successful women who want to create healthy relationships in Love U.
Strangely, the topic of the moment barely even came up because we spent most of the time talking about what was going on in their love lives – men who seem great but won’t commit, fear of setting boundaries and communicating needs, confusion about how to speak your mind with confidence so that a man will listen instead of pulls away.
But that was yesterday and this is today. Everything has shifted as more sports leagues, conferences and countries are taking bold preemptive precautions.
Single people should as well.
The solution to stopping coronavirus is self-distancing: staying away from other people. Without consulting the CDC, I’d guess this includes kissing and having sex with strangers.
Which brings us to whether you should date during the coronavirus pandemic.
And that, my friend, is a more nuanced answer than you might think.
Should you go on Tinder, swipe right, meet for drinks, and hook-up with a rando?
But just because you shouldn’t go on does NOT mean your love life has to come to a grinding halt. Quite the contrary.
Your love life can actually improve while you’re self-distancing.
In fact, there is a bright silver lining in the dark cloud of the coronavirus. Sure, it’s spreading. Yes, you should probably stay at home for the indefinite future.
But thanks to technology, your love life can actually improve while you’re self-distancing.
Here are 5 reasons why the coronavirus may be GOOD for your love life.
1. It creates a corrective to the flaws of dating apps. First you swipe. Then you text. Then it’s chaos. Maybe he’s texting 25 other women. Maybe he ghosts in the middle of a conversation. Maybe he wants to meet at your place. Maybe he wants to see if there’s chemistry over a quick coffee. Maybe he texts you intermittently for a month without asking you out. Face it: dating apps are the WORST. There’s no real conversation. There’s no real connection. Everyone is replaceable. But if you can’t meet right away because you may expose each other to a deadly virus, there’s no need to rush. This creates an opportunity to actually get to know someone.
2. It forces you to date more slowly. Listen, I get why it’s fun to look at hot people, swipe, text, and meet as quickly as possible. It means you don’t have to read profiles. It means you don’t have to write thoughtful emails. It means you can put in no effort beyond swiping right on attractive people and let things play out from there. But if I’ve learned anything as a dating coach for smart, strong, successful women, it’s that although this seems like a time saver (because you’re moving so fast), it actually becomes a time waster (because the quality of the interactions are so low and everyone has SO many options at their fingertips.)
3. It allows you to use the phone for what it was originally created for – talking to people. I know it’s novel concept. I know millennials (and some middle-aged people as well) are actively afraid of the phone and avoid it like the plague (probably the wrong reference to make at this time). But if we’re to rank the quality of different means of communication, text HAS to be the worst form. Picture a typical exchange: You have your phone. He has his phone. You’re typing one line and waiting for a reply. Sometimes you wait seconds. Sometimes you wait hours. Sometimes you wait days. Sometimes you flip out if he doesn’t send the proper emojis! Seriously, as a dating coach, I hear about relationships dying every day due to the lack of nuance and tone conveyed in text. Years of love are unwound because two people won’t press the little green dial button to actually solve their problems. Well, it’s time for that to end. If you can’t leave the house for a few months and you don’t want your love life to grind to a halt, maybe it’s time to nudge that online guy to call you. You may just discover that using the phone (or even FaceTime) for talking is the best thing that ever happened to your love life.
4. It allows you to get to know someone in a more organic way. I did a TEDx talk called “No More Bad Dates” on the topic, in which I unfavorably compare online dating to real life dating. So if we can all recognize that real life simply FEELS better – flirting with a stranger, exchanging witty banter, building up trust, rapport, anticipation and excitement – why WOULDN’T we want to try to make our online dating experience feel more like real life? Once upon a time, when I was a single screenwriter instead of a married dating and relationship coach, I was emailing a woman from JDate just before the Christmas holiday. Because I was headed to the East Coast to visit my mom, I was unable to meet her before I went away. But that obstacle allowed us to avoid getting together for a quick meet-and-greet and allowed us to talk on the phone every night for all seven days I was away. By the time I returned to Los Angeles, I had a woman I’d never met picking me up at the airport and later becoming my girlfriend.
5. It allows you time to heal, reflect and learn. About half of my readers aren’t actually dating. They’re hurting. They’re healing. They’re taking a break. Maybe you’re using work as an excuse to keep busy. Maybe you recently suffered a painful breakup. Maybe you’re still holding on to a dead-end relationship that’s not making you happy. If that describes, this is a perfect time to retrench and figure out what you’re going to do AFTER this coronavirus epidemic is over. It would be easy to go back to the way you were doing things: keeping active, focusing on your friends and hobbies, halfheartedly swiping through cute guys hoping for a miracle. But that’s not a plan. That’s not a strategy. That’s not going to get you into a healthy marriage. That’ll just keep you right where you are – avoiding emotional intimacy because you think it’s too difficult or scary or impossible.
If I were single, I’d use the next few months wisely. Build up your confidence. Understand how to meet men more effectively. Look at the world through a lens of abundance, optimism, and joy instead of scarcity, pessimism, and fear.
If you don’t want to date until this is all over, I understand. But I want you to understand, life is whatever you make of it. You can stay on dating sites. You can talk to guys on the phone for a few weeks – with no primping, no pressure, and no sex – just to see how you feel with them and how they follow through. You can even emerge in spring with a boyfriend or, at least, a new outlook on dating and relationships.
And if you’re not ready to date right now – either because of coronavirus, fear, or heartbreak – in Love U, we don’t even get to dating until month 3. The first two months are all about confidence and meeting men – two things you could really stand to use when you’re ready to come out of hiding, no?
In the meantime, be safe, stock up on necessities, activate your profile and remember how much more gratifying it is to connect by voice rather than text.
We’re in for a rough patch but that doesn’t mean you have to stop living until it’s over.