Falling in love during a global pandemic is interesting. Sometimes I forget this isn’t “normal” and in a different time, we’d be able to see each other as much as we want and we’d already be meeting each other’s friends and family and going out and doing things. Other times this does feel normal and if nothing else, that is a reflection of our ability to radically accept the reality of what is.
I wouldn’t change anything because I don’t know that AJ and I would’ve ever met if not for this pandemic. So, I can’t spend too much time complaining about it keeping us apart. After all, it’s the mismanagement of the pandemic that’s keeping us apart. Not the pandemic itself.
Since posting about our love on Facebook, we’ve gotten a lot of support and love from people who have been inspired by our story. We’ve also gotten a lot of questions about how others can find love during the pandemic too. So I thought I’d share a few tidbits of Pandemic Love advice for anyone else who’s hoping to find love during coronavirus.
1. Get comfortable getting vulnerable
Now is not the time to crawl into your tortoise shell of safety and hide. If you want to find your person, you’ve got to allow yourself to be seen. Any successful relationship of any kind demands vulnerability. We’re living in the most uncertain times any of us have ever known. You need to be able to talk about it. The more open you can be with each other about how you’re feeling, the stronger your bond will grow.
2. Choose your apocalypse partner wisely
Dating is not for the faint of heart these days, friends. It’s a global pandemic outside. We’re in the midst of a revolution/the widest spread civil rights movement of all time, things are changing rapidly. It’s a new world with new rules. You better make sure the person you’re choosing is one you feel 100% confident standing beside as the world continues down this uncharted path. As such, you’ve gotta stop picking people you find yourself needing to make excuses for.
3. Stop Overlooking red flags
It’s time. No one is perfect, that much is true. But imperfections and red flags are not the same thing. Stop excusing things away because you’re afraid you’re being “too picky” or you’re afraid to be alone. Be more afraid of ending up with the wrong person than you are of being alone.
Do you really want to deal with the world in total chaos AND find yourself in a relationship with the wrong person? Hard pass. If you want to find love, keep your eyes open, know your deal breakers, and don’t be afraid to draw a line in the sand when you see problematic behavior.
4. Release Attachment to the Outcome
If you approach dating with an open mind and stop trying to make every person you date THE person, you’ll have a more pleasant experience. When I met AJ, I wasn’t thinking, “OMG, she’s my future wife.” I was attracted to her, of course. I was interested in learning more about her, obviously. But I had zero attachment to whatever was to come. I was just starting a conversation.
Way too often in dating we start writing out our future with the other person long before we know them well enough to do so – Like, after the first date. What if you try relaxing into the process and just seeing where things go instead? Maybe they will end up being the love of your life, or maybe they’ll end up being a great friend, or even nothing at all. It’s all okay.
5. Measure Your Values
Know your values and make sure they align with the other person. It was a big deal to me that AJ and I were both taking the pandemic seriously because it spoke to our shared values. How we both stepped up and showed up as the demonstrations started after George Floyd was murdered mattered because again, it was a display of our individual and mutual values.
If you find yourself making excuses for the other person when their values don’t seem to align with yours, they are not your person. If I was taking the pandemic seriously and she was not, it would be a grand display of how different our values really are, and that would’ve spoken volumes about how well we were going to work out.
6. Utilize Social Media and Dating Apps
Social media and dating apps are where it’s at when it comes to socializing during a global pandemic. Who am I kidding though, as someone with chronic health issues, this is how I socialize in general. I can’t begin to tell you how many of my friends I’ve met via Facebook before meeting them in real life.
The idea that apps are only (or even mostly) for hooking up is bullshit. Apps are what you make of them. If that’s what you’re looking for, that’s what you’ll find. If you want to find more than that, it’s absolutely out there to be found. It’s all about how you present yourself and who you engage with.
If you want more than hookups, make that clear. Take the time to fill out your profile and make it interesting. And for the love of God, why all the snapchat filters and selfie-only photo albums? GET MORE CREATIVE. Show more personality and say something interesting in your profile. It doesn’t have to be long (better if it’s not), but give people something to go off of so they have some idea of what to say when they message you.
Speaking of which, don’t be afraid to send a first message. That’s the running joke right? We match and then no one says anything until we’re all dead or something? If you actually want to meet someone, you have to break the ice!
7. COMMUNICATE COMMUNICATE COMMUNICATE
People aren’t mind readers. When you’re building a relationship during a global pandemic, it’s all phone and FaceTime conversations and talking until you’re blue in the face. Use this as an opportunity to learn each other’s communication style and start opening up. Have the tough conversations! They might come up sooner than usual because of the unique circumstances of building a relationship while being forced to stay apart physically.
Don’t be afraid to speak to what you need (read: get vulnerable).
AJ and I had multiple conversations about my health because I worried about letting someone into my life knowing they’d also have to deal with my medical complexities. It made me insecure. It wasn’t a conversation I wanted to have, but we had it anyway, and it was perfect.
Every time you choose to communicate rather than stuff down your feelings, you’re choosing to strengthen your relationship. You’re also giving your potential partner the opportunity to show you whether or not they can meet you halfway. If you’re trying to open up a dialogue and they shut you down, that’s a quick indicator that they’re probably not your person and it’s time to move on.
Despite turning on the HER app when I did, I wasn’t looking for anything in particular. I was bored. I’d just recently gotten out of the hospital after a 16 day stay only to find myself on lockdown because of a global pandemic. I needed some entertainment. In fact, if you’d have asked me as recently as January I would’ve told you my level of interest in dating was slim to none.
Meeting AJ during the Covid-19 outbreak was actually kind of perfect for me. It has given me a chance to take things at a comfortable pace with little to no pressure. Of course a great deal of that lack of pressure has been AJ being totally supportive of us moving at whatever pace I needed. She has never put pressure on me from the very beginning. That is perhaps the most important thing of all.
If someone is putting pressure on you to move faster than you’re ready to, they’re not your person. Nothing about the world is “normal” right now. We have no idea what the new normal is even going to look like. Go into dating with an open mind. Let it evolve naturally.
And one more time because it’s worth repeating – Being alone is better than being with the wrong person. Don’t settle for lackluster love simply for the sake of “companionship.” Get a dog for that.