If you’re single and looking for love, the coronavirus pandemic will have had an impact.
Perhaps you’ve fully embraced video dating and socially distanced chats. Maybe you’ve gone full-lockdown and become a hermit enjoying the thrill of spending time alone and eating disgusting snacks. Or you could be so desperate for the touch of another human that you know full well that this is all over you’ll hook up with any adult with a pulse.
We should probably take a moment to reflect on our BC (before coronavirus) love lives and pause before we rush right back out of lockdown into the arms of another highly unsuitable partner.
Handy, then, that dating coaches Gavin Bloom and Christina Macnamara have created a six-week course called The Groundwork, designed to help people sort out their dismal dating situations.
They reckon you could use this time in lockdown to get on top of your personal stuff, evaluate what you’re looking for, and then come out of our time in quarantine actually ready to maintain a happy relationship.
Gavin Bloom says: ‘The reality is that many online daters feel that the coronavirus has made their quest for love even more important than before.
‘In the scramble to find love, coronavirus has brought out the ‘dating overdrive’ instinct in many singles – which is ineffective at best and exhausting at worst.
‘The truth is, like creating anything new, you need to make a plan for your love life, put solid foundations in place and get the tools and support you need to bring that plan to life.
‘If you wanted the best job, you wouldn’t just leave that up to chance – so why do that with your love life?’
Fair play. We chatted to Christina and Gavin for the essential things we need to be doing in lockdown so we’re fully prepped to nail dating post-pandemic.
Take things slow
Don’t try to make up for lost time by flinging yourself into a date every night. You’ll only end up burned out.
After the pause imposed by lockdown, it’s a far better plan to ease yourself back into dating as a slow, gentle movement rather than a sudden dive.
You can use lockdown to try out slow dating – the idea of being more mindful with dating and focusing on quality rather than quantity – but stick to that when we’re out of the woods, too.
‘Don’t get caught up in the stress and distraction of the dating treadmill,’ say Christina and Gavin. ‘Focus your energy and choose your connections carefully.’
Invest time in self-care
Lockdown is likely a time you’ve had to adjust to being isolated, so it’s tempting to rush out for any human contact you can get once lockdown is lifted.
Press pause and use this time to reflect on your self.
Gavin and Christina say: ‘You’ve probably been spending more time on your own. It may not have been easy or comfortable, but rather than bouncing back and trying to be just like you used to be, consider whether anything has changed for you.
‘Has your relationship with yourself changed? How do you feel about being alone?
‘This is an opportunity to be self-sufficient, to shift your emotional intelligence.
‘Have you developed any new habits? Have you learned how to look after yourself better? The more you care for yourself, the less you’re expecting a prospective partner to ‘fix’ or complete you.’
Raise your confidence, don’t lower your standards
‘Being in lockdown can have an impact on your confidence, but don’t let that impact your dating choices,’ Gavin and Christina explain. ‘Hanging out at home in your PJs doesn’t give you the best sense of your best self. You may be feeling weird, lonely, uncertain, but remember that it’s totally normal and it’s no reflection on you or your worth.
‘We can tend to settle for less in love when we’re not feeling great about ourselves, so keep checking in with yourself and with your friends.
‘Focus on building up your confidence rather than lowering your standards in dating right now.’
Reflect on what’s working for you
Now we’re in lockdown and it’s harder to make our usual dating mistakes (can’t hook up with someone who’ve obviously not right for you when you’re social distancing, right?), it’s a great time to go back over your past dating experiences and reflect on where you’re going wrong – and what you want to do differently.
‘For many of us, our ‘relationship blueprint’ was created at a very early age,’ say Gavin and Christina. ‘These behavioural patterns that you instinctively gravitate towards are not always pleasant – but they can be all too familiar.
‘What would you like to see this time around? You may have noticed that you tend to end up in relationships that aren’t really good for you, or that you don’t like some of the ways you’ve acted in your love life.
‘If you could make any changes, what would you do differently? What kind of relationship would you like to see this time around?
‘Collectively, we have been through big changes. Reflect on what this has meant to you and set an intention of what you want from your next relationship. Use this time to make any positive steps and lay the groundwork for something better next time.
‘This is an unusual situation – things have slowed down and stopped in many ways. Rather than picking up in exactly the same way as you used to, use this pause to consider which parts of your dating life were actually working for you – and which ones were not working.’
Don’t settle out of loneliness
You might have absolutely hated being alone in lockdown – but you got through it. Don’t give up that independence to jump into a relationship because you think ‘anyone’ is better than ‘no one’.
Christina and Gavin say: ‘One of the main reasons people get into bad relationships is that they can’t deal with the uncertainty of being single. They’d rather settle for a relationship that feels rubbish than deal with the unknown of not having a relationship yet.
‘If you can use this strange, global situation to hone your skills in dealing with the unknown, then you won’t need to compromise when it comes to meeting someone who’s a genuine match for you.’
Don’t get stuck in the text trap
Okay, so you can’t meet IRL right now. That doesn’t mean texting is your only option.
It’s worth upgrading to a video date or a phone call if you’ve been chatting to someone for a while, to see if that easy conversational connection is there – the spark you’d usually be able to judge on an IRL date.
Try not to rush the sexy stuff
Let’s put it bluntly: people are mad levels of horny right now. Don’t let that cloud your judgement, whether that results in an early Skype sex session or wanting to claw someone’s clothes off the moment lockdown measures lift.
As long as it’s safe (consensual, using condoms, and not happening with people outside your household amid a pandemic), you can have sex whenever you want and shouldn’t feel judged for it – but it’s a good idea to make sure it’s what you really want, not just a reaction to being cooped up inside without human touch.
‘We’ve all been there and it’s somehow even easier to throw caution to the wind when everything’s virtual,’ say Gavin and Christina. ‘But taking things slowly is especially important when we can’t meet up face-to-face.
‘If you can build trust before things get sexual, you’re way less likely to get caught up with someone that turns out not to be right for you. Save yourself some time, because actually when you take things slowly it’s much more efficient.’
Oh, and masturbate. That’s an easy way to clear the horniness haze and get some clarity.
Do you have a lockdown love story to share? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]
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