Have you forgotten how to talk to human beings? (Picture: Getty Images/fStop)
It may not feel like it right now, but at some point the world will open back up again.
And we will go back to doing the things we love, outside of our homes, with our family and friends. It will happen, eventually.
For single people – that might mean a return to the world of dating.
Dating was hard enough before the pandemic – but now, we’re all out of practice, and the thought of throwing ourselves back in might feel particularly scary. And there’s a name for this – FODA. Fear Of Dating Again.
If you are suffering from FODA, just know – you’re not alone.
We have spent months (and months) isolated from other people, barely leaving our homes, hardly interacting beyond Zoom. Studies have already found that the repeated lockdowns has had a negative impact on our ability to communicate face-to-face.
According to Hinge, FODA is a dating term that we are going to be seeing a lot more of in 2021 – and it is no surprise that we are all feeling more nervous about dating again.
Not only is there the fact that our flirting skills are going to be rusty as hell, there’s also the generalised anxiety that comes with dating in a pandemic. (When do we take our masks off? Should we hold hands? Has she sanitised? I guess a kiss is out of the question…)
And there is the ongoing uncertainty. What if you make an amazing connection with someone, only for the world to shut back down again so you can’t see them for weeks. The whole thing can start to feel like it’s more effort than it’s worth.
How to cope with FODA
Thankfully, Logan Ury, Hinge’s director of relationship science, is on hand to offer his advice for overcoming this latest dating hurdle.
‘Due to months of lockdown, we’re all feeling a bit like a fish out of water in the dating landscape,’ says Logan.
‘And, as the UK plunged into a third national lockdown mere days into 2021, singletons were feeling like the odds of finding someone were against them, again. But you should still go for it, you’ve got nothing to lose!’
Logan’s top tips on dating again:
‘Firstly, it’s normal to feel nervous and it’s likely the other person is feeling the same, so voice it when you’re on the date and you’ll surprise yourself as to how much more relaxed you feel afterwards,’ he suggests.
This makes sense, clear and open communication is always a great starting point for any romantic interaction.
‘Sometimes remembering that the date isn’t all about you can help calm nerves,’ adds Logan.
‘As much as you’re trying to impress your date, you’re also there to see if you actually like the other person. So, when you feel yourself getting flustered, shift your attention to them – see if you can pick three things you like about them – hopefully that helps.’
It’s always good to remember that a date is a two-way thing. You have to like them just as much as they like you for anything to progress.
‘Don’t worry if you don’t have the initial spark with someone on a first date, some of the best connections come from a slow burn,’ says Logan.
‘There’s no set amount of time it takes to connect with someone, so make sure you don’t get caught up in comparing others around you.’
How to handle video dating
It doesn’t have to be awkward (Picture: Getty Images/fStop)
In 2021, video dating will likely continue to be a low-key, safe, and efficient way to assess compatibility, and it will help people confidently decide who they want to meet in person, once we are allowed.
Almost half of Hinge users have now been on a video date and one in three say they find video dates easier to arrange than in-person dates.
If you’re worried about it being awkward, don’t worry – when users actually tried video dating, 81% of them said it wasn’t awkward at all.
Also, for those wondering what’s the best time for a video call, 9-10 pm – also known as ‘Dating Hour’ – is the most popular time on Hinge each day.
Logan has shared his top tips for a successful and non-awkward video date:
‘Make an effort, just as you would if you were going on a date in real life,’ says Logan. ‘If you feel good about yourself, you’re likely to come across confident. So get ready as if it was a real date. (At least the top half which they’ll be able to see.)’
Logan also suggests trying something new – particularly if you’ve had a few video dates with someone.
‘If you’re on your second or third video date, why not mix it up a bit?’ he says. ‘You could make the same meal for yourselves, going through the recipe together, listen to a playlist, or play a game.’
Logan’s final piece of advice is to skip the small talk – and he says he would give the same advice for in-person dates, too.
‘If your dates feel like job interviews, you’re doing something wrong,’ he says.
‘Use this moment as an opportunity to really get to know someone, not to trade bullet points from your resumes. What are they excited about right now? What’s keeping them up at night? What are they most looking forward to doing with their friends when it’s safe to meet up?’
Do you have a dating tip to share? We want to hear from you.
Get in touch: [email protected].