Fear of Dating Again: Exploring the Latest Pandemic Fallout

20 May

It’s been way over a year since singletons were faced with an unbelievable scenario: the pause button was pressed on dating—and much of life in general. What does dating again look like?

A young man is dressed smarty at a bar waiting, he looks fed up as if he has been stood up on a date. One hand is on his face and the other is holding his smart phone.

Since then start of the Pandemic, a huge proportion of singles haven’t been on dates—at least not physically. Video dating has exploded in popularity, maintaining many a singleton’s sanity during that dark, never ending mid-pandemic winter. But for those who have met up with dating app hotties between various lockdowns, going to the bar has been replaced with a walk in the park—and one-night stands for kissless rendezvous.

Here in the UK, we’re fortunate to be reaping the benefits of a miraculous vaccine programme, which means face-to-face dating is returning in full force. Singles are emerging from their murky abodes, peeping bleary-eyed around the front door into the inviting summer rays, and finally consigning the trackies and fluffy socks back to the drawer. But people are feeling understandable apprehension. So much so, in fact, that Logan Ury, Director of Relationship Science at Hinge, has coined a term for it: FODA; or, fear of dating again.

Hinge has revealed that over half the app’s users are feeling more worried about dating again now than they were pre-COVID. But according to Ury, this is nothing unexpected. After all, studies show the repeated lockdowns have negatively impacted people’s ability to communicate face to face. “Dating has always been an anxiety-provoking experience. But after a year of pandemic restrictions, it’s normal to feel a bit more anxious than usual,” says Ury.

FODA is real—but so is many singles’ fervent desire to get right back out there and unpause their dating lives. It can be easy to rush into, though: the past 14 months have encumbered every one of us with unique obstacles, be they economic, emotional, or physical. We’ve all been out of the dating game for a seriously long time—so be kind to yourself when starting your journey to dating again.

Be cool—and break the ice

Everyone gets nervous for a first date, but the feeling’s exacerbated when you’re out of practice. That’s why it’s important to remember one piece of advice above all others: your date is as nervous as you—if not more. And while it’s natural to get too inside your own head, realising your worries are normal mitigates their effects on your enjoyment. In fact, as paradoxical as it might seem, casually declaring your butterflies via text can cause them to all but disappear. Vulnerability, when displayed appropriately and proportionally, is attractive, because it conveys trust in and respect for your date. Nothing fancy, mind; just something simple like I’m excited (and a bit nervous) to meet up with a real human being again! The elephant in the room has been addressed, you’ll feel more confident and excited, and your date will probably find your admission of nerves pretty cute.

Don’t dwell on the past

Demonstrating your sense of empathy from the get-go will encourage your date to relax, and perhaps even open up about their own experiences of the pandemic. All that being said, a critical caveat: dating’s supposed to be fun! COVID is an obvious topic of conversation, but don’t get bogged down in the details. You’re both here to forget the dark days and move on to pastures green, so if you’re going to talk about the pandemic at all, use it to contextualise the dialogue and lead into far happier and more interesting subjects. For example, your date may have utilised all the extra hours over lockdown to pursue a hobby, a passion, a project for which they never thought they’d have time. Explore what drives them, what fascinates them—and soon the thought of lockdown will have evaporated from the rapid back and forth flowing like electricity between you.

A little self-love goes a long way on dates

It’s been tough to keep going during lockdown—but the prospect of a hot date is the single most motivating goal to pull yourself out of a slump. If there’s ever been a time to treat yourself, it’s now. Take yourself for a manicure. Visit your favourite hairdresser and go all out. Grab a towel and head to the gym for a rejuvenating workout. Throw open your wardrobe and inject some summer into your style before heading out the door. Feel, look, and act your best—and your best is what they’ll see.

This isn’t an end—it’s the start of your next dating chapter

Without exception, we’re all emerging from lockdown very different people. For many, the pandemic has been the ultimate felix culpa: we’ve re-evaluated what’s important to us, shifted our priorities accordingly, then looked ahead with renewed vigour and anticipation. And for lots of singletons, nowhere does this apply more strongly than in the realm of dating.

If you’re feeling FODA, take some time to consider where those anxieties are coming from. Then take a step back, lay out your plan of action, and go for it, safe in the knowledge that dating represents your biggest step back into normality, joy, and life. And don’t pressure yourself: at this stage, it’s not all about finding The One. Rather, let your hair down—and show the world’s singles exactly who they’ve been missing out on.

And if you need a little extra advice in overcoming your FODA—or you just fancy bursting back onto the dating scene meeting some of the country’s most exceptional singletons—The Vida Consultancy can help. The experts at our elite, award-winning international matchmaking enterprise can bring you together with attractive, dynamic, highly compatible singles—all of whom are just as excited to get back out there as you. Get in touch today, and prepare for a summer of love like no other.

by Rachel Vida MacLynn

Founder & CEO

Rachel Vida MacLynn is reputed as being a world-leading matchmaking and dating expert. Registered as a Chartered Psychologist with the British Psychological Society, Rachel advocates a professional matchmaking approach based on psychological principles and professional consultation.More by this author

LinkedIn | The British Psychological Society |