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Lockdown has changed the dos and don’ts in dating (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
If you’ve not been able to meet in-person with a new romantic interest due to lockdown, you might feel hesitant to suggest a Valentine’s date.
Recent research from Hinge revealed that 47% of their users think you need to wait until after the second or third date to suggest celebrating Valentine’s together.
But really, there are no hard and fast rules on when you should or shouldn’t ask someone out for the big romantic day.
Though experts say you might want be careful that you don’t scare anyone off by being too forward if it’s early days.
Striking the balance for early dating
‘Our first Valentine’s Day under lockdown will undoubtedly be an unusual one and singles, couples and those in the “talking stages” will appreciate doing something to mark the day, even if it’s just a phone call.
‘Remember your intention by asking them out on a Valentine’s Day date isn’t to create expectations, but to create something fun to do even during these difficult times and show your initial interest.’
There are ways to be subtle about it if you’re worried it might be too soon to ask, with one of Hayley’s suggestions being writing in a message something along the lines of: ‘I think this level of chat warrants a phone call. Let’s maybe save it for Valentine’s Day?’
Clinical psychologist and author, Dr Tony Ortega says you should consider how asking the question will be received.
‘If you are seeing someone and you have established an amazing connection right off the bat, ask away. However, if this dating experience is moving slower than your previous experiences, you may want to hold off.’
For some people Valentine’s Day comes loaded with notions of the date being serious.
Dr Tony explains: ‘The issue really is not time. Look at the person you are dating and honestly ask yourself if they are ready to be asked this question.’
Just because someone wants to go slow, that’s not to say they aren’t interested.
One dating trend that’s popped up for this year is the rise of slow dating, which means you’re prioritising the building of an emotional connection over a physical one. OkCupid have seen its users take up this style of dating in huge numbers.
If you want to ask someone out for V-Day but are feeling nervous, Melissa Hobley, dating expert from OkCupid says:
‘It can sometimes be helpful to acknowledge upfront the additional pressure the date carries – the chances are your match is feeling the same.
‘Being honest about those feelings of awkwardness upfront can help deepen your connection.
‘Secondly, recognise that we are living in unusual times – the standard rules of dating have had to shift as we have adapted to the pandemic.’
Valentine’s Day can put pressure on new romance, or even on someone individually as there is suddenly a need to secure a date. It’s okay if you don’t have a fixed V-Day date – 90% of people on OkCupid dated digitally last year, so there are plenty of other times to arrange a virtual date with someone.
Pandemic or not, Melissa says: ‘The world still wants to find meaningful connections.
‘The social distancing restrictions will only make things even more exciting for when regulations ease.’
So, what if you’ve been talking for a while now?
If you’ve been speaking since the start of the third national lockdown (or even before) you might feel something needs to mark the occasion.
Hayley says: ‘If you’ve been dating (or video calling) for a month or so, put effort into a more creative virtual date to show you care.
‘Pull inspiration from previous conversations and show you’ve paid attention to the things they’ve been confidently sharing with you.’
The reality is, Valentine’s day means different things to different people. Depending on how romantic you are – or how gimmicky you think the whole thing is – it’s going to feel anywhere from important to pointless.
Hayley says you don’t need to have the same views on V-Day as your love interest – you just have to respect where each other is coming from.
‘So even if you think Valentine’s Day is a waste of time, if it’s important to someone you care about, make the effort!
‘Likewise, if you’re a huge Valentine’s Day fan, and your date isn’t, don’t see their lack of romance here as a sign they don’t like you, as long as they’re brilliant at showing they care for you in other ways,’ she says.
For those who will be having the V-Day date earlier than usual, Hayley suggests you ‘spend some time on self-care before your date, so even if your date is a bust, you can do something nice for yourself.’
Try not to pressure yourself and remember that dating is to be enjoyed.
If a Valentine’s date is on the cards and you need some inspiration, Hayley Quinn, Melissa Hobley and Hinge’s director of relationship science, Logan Ury, have some ideas to springboard off.
Valentine’s ‘digidate’ ideas:
- Shaken or stirred: Stir things up with a two-person mocktail/cocktail making class. Make it more of an experience by choosing a complex recipe that includes your favourite ingredients and let your date know what items to pick up in advance. Over video chat, show off your mixologist skills and do a virtual cheers!
- PPT party: What’s a topic you know more about than most people? Show off your passions by creating a PowerPoint and presenting it to your date. Bring your date down the rabbit hole with you by creating a slideshow on what matters to you. The more obscure the topic the better.
- Take things outdoors: Go for a virtual neighbourhood walk. Flip your phone camera so it faces outward and take turns showing each other around your neighbourhoods.
- Classic games: Play a virtual game together. There are plenty of online versions of common board games. It’s a great way to get to know each other, while keeping things lighthearted and playful.
- Show and tell: Come up with a series of prompts, like: ‘What’s the silliest purchase you’ve made during the pandemic?’ or ‘What is a piece of clothing you know you should toss but you never will?’ Then take turns sharing objects from around the house. Extra credit if you give a tour of your fridge!
- Cook together: Try cooking your favourite meal together over video chat. It could be interesting to compare who cooks best or what someone’s like in the kitchen.
- Never Have I Ever: If you’re feeling cheeky, ‘Never Have I Ever’ is a fun and insightful way to get to know each other.
- Netflix party: Tune into something at the same time while you have a video call going. Then you can react to the film or show together and discuss it afterwards.
- Dinner date: If what you’re missing is wining and dining, prop up your camera and create the feeling of a formal dinner date together. Light candles to help set the mood. This might be better for those who’ve already had several video dates.
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