Dating, in general, can be hard enough without the threat of a global pandemic looming overhead.
And, with social distance mandates in place and restaurants and bars around the world closed for business for the foreseeable future, the idea of dating as we know it has been fully turned upside down.
Although it might feel impossible to make a genuine connection with someone special right now, expert dating coach Matthew Hussey believes it can absolutely work out in your favor — all from the safety of your home.
He recently sat down with In The Know to share some tips and advice for dating in quarantine — in every stage of a relationship.
A lesson to keep in mind as you scroll through Instagram watching story after story of happy couples baking sourdough bread together? Don’t compare yourself to them, Hussey says.
“There’s a lot of people looking at other people in relationships and feeling like they’re behind,” he explains. “But that doesn’t mean you can’t be proactive during this time.”
To get yourself in the game, Hussey suggests reaching out to people on dating apps and striking up a conversation — but, make sure to let your personality shine through, especially in your initial messages.
“Don’t be afraid to be the first one to say ‘hi’ or to send a message,” he suggests. “But, the important thing right now is creating real connection. There’s a lot of messages being sent between people right now, and it’s really easy to ignore a message when someone just says, ‘Hi, how’s it going?’ There’s no personality in that at all. So much of what we have to do is bring more of our personality to the table.”
“If someone says, ‘Hey, how are you?’ Don’t just say, ‘I’m fine, thanks, you?'” he adds. “Actually give some information. ‘I’m good. I’m sitting watching ‘Beauty and the Beast’ with my little sister right now.'”
That second answer, Hussey says, creates a more three-dimensional picture of yourself and allows potential dates to connect with you on a deeper level right off the bat.
Hussey also warns about becoming “locked in a texting cycle” with new matches — one of the biggest mistakes singles are prone to in this unprecedented dating environment.
“Sometimes we get the feeling of like, ‘If they’re not messaging me, I’m not going to message them.’ But what we forget is that this person doesn’t even know us well enough to care,” he explains.
Instead of shying away from the situation, Hussey advises approaching with boldness to avoid stagnation.
“Just tell someone, ‘Oh, you should give me a call later. It’d be good to hear your voice,'” he says. “You got to get momentum and move forward. Don’t get locked in a texting cycle for two weeks and realize, ‘I still don’t even know what this person sounds like or looks like on video.'”
Quarantining together can truly make or break new couples — which Hussey says might be a blessing in disguise.
“Now you’re waking up in the morning with someone, now you’re seeing them when they’re exhausted at the end of their day and they have no energy left to be charming for you,” he says. “That can actually make us paint a more accurate picture of someone for us to decide whether they’re the right person or not.”
Although Hussey acknowledges it can be fun to “play house” with a partner who you’re quarantined with, he cautions to make sure you’re creating space for yourself, a key element in any healthy relationship.
“One of the true tests of a relationship is, ‘Can I sit and read this book I want to read without feeling guilty that you are here right now?'” he notes.
Although you may be locked in with your partner 24/7, Hussey warns to be cognizant of still spending “mindful, conscious time together” rather than be content mindlessly sitting next to each other all day.
“Be really intentional about saying to your partner, ‘Hey, why don’t we do a proper movie night tonight?’ Or, ‘I’m going to cook you dinner tonight,'” he explains. “When you plan that time, it becomes sacred and you have to honor it. It also gives focus to your work because now you’ll go, ‘I have to finish by six because I’ve got a date tonight!'”
Hussey also says he’s a big fan of “going all out” for these special occasions.
“If you’re doing a movie night, make it a beautiful, themed movie night,” he suggests. “Turn the living room into a theater!”
Whether you’re normally long-distance with your boo or this pandemic has forced you into the situation, Hussey acknowledges it can put a strain on a relationship.
But rather than wallow in pity, the dating coach says to accept it and then quickly move on to look for ways to celebrate your love.
“So you can’t see each other right now — surrender to that, that’s just the way it is,” he says. “Accept it.”
Instead of “bashing your head against the wall” in frustration, Hussey recommends honoring the art of your connection as it is right now instead of living in hope for what might come later when this all ends.
So … maybe your relationship didn’t pan out, whether due to corona-related stress or simply because it was a long-time coming.
Although this might be a particularly difficult time to cope, Hussey says you should allow yourself time to heal, and that, ultimately, you can get through this.
“There are some things about it that will be harder,” he explains. “You are stuck alone with your thoughts if you live alone, but it will give way.”
“I’m going to accept that most of my day, I might be walking around as a zombie — and not just dead to people on the outside, but dying on the inside,” he joked. “Let me accept that and surrender to that. But, if you can just create more minutes [each day] where you feel a little better, that’s a manageable goal, and that’s what people should focus on during this time.”
If you enjoyed this article, read more virtual dating tips from expert Serena Kerrigan.
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