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Singles are Experiencing the Fear of Dating Again

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Jan 21, 2022

Singles are Experiencing the Fear of Dating Again
  • Throwing oneself into the dating world has, for most people, never been an easy process. It’s already hard to be vulnerable and put yourself out there. Add on the stress and social isolation the pandemic has brought, and dating seems even more intimidating.

    The pandemic has taken a major toll on many aspects of our lives, including our love lives. Most of us went from being surrounded by people every day to now having hardly interacted with new people for nearly two years. It’s no wonder many of us feel like we’ve ‘forgotten’ how to socialize, and additionally forgotten how to do this whole dating thing.

    As COVID restrictions are lifting and more people are getting fully vaccinated and boosted, many have wanted to finally get back out in the dating scene, only to now find themselves experiencing pandemic-induced FODA or Fear of Dating Again. If you’re experiencing fear when it comes to dating, know that you are certainly not alone.

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    What You Should Know About FODA

    In addition to fears of large crowds, socializing face to face, and, of course, getting sick, fear of going on in-person dates is more prevalent now than ever. Dating is not the same as it was before the pandemic (and it might never be). There are now added uncertainties such as, ‘When do we take our masks off?,’ ‘Is it safe to get intimate?,’ and ‘Would I be able to quarantine with this person?’. With all these added unknowns, some may wonder if dating is even worth all the trouble.

    Know that if you are experiencing these feelings, you are definitely not alone. The term ‘FODA’ was coined by Hinge’s Director of Relationship Science, Logan Ury, who reported in her recent survey that 51% of users were experiencing this phenomenon. According to her research, over half of singles are also afraid of getting into the dating world again. Ury states, “Due to months of lockdown, we’re all feeling a bit like a fish out of water in the dating landscape.” Dating is a type of social skill, and many of us are feeling rusty after not practicing this skill for so long. 

    Although we’ve gotten more comfortable with texting and even video chatting on our devices, deciding to meet up in person for a first date is when the real fear often starts to kick in. Not only do we now have those added unknowns and changes, such as first-date kisses often being out of the question, but many of us haven’t met up with someone new in ages– so it’s super understandable to be feeling anxious!

    Ways to Overcome This Feeling

    First of all, remember that you are not alone! There is quite literally at least a 50% chance that your date is feeling just as nervous about meeting up. Logan Ury recommends just being honest with each other about your anxieties. Whoever said we’re not ‘supposed to’ just tell our dates that we’re feeling nervous? Plus, many find that when they’re open about their feelings, they learn their date actually was feeling the exact same way. Being honest about your nerves is a great way to break the ice; now you can relax and truly get to know each other. 

    Another way to overcome FODA is to not put too much pressure on yourself. Give yourself time to ease back into the already nerve-wracking world of dating, especially if it’s been a while. Don’t worry about trying to impress your date, and focus more on just being present and learning about this other person in front of you. Remember that dating shouldn’t be about performing a certain way, but rather about being your authentic self so you can connect with people who like you for you!

    In addition, virtual dates are still a thing, and they aren’t going away any time soon. Having video dates before deciding to meet up in person is a great way to break the ice, get more comfortable with someone, and figure out if it’s really worth continuing. It’s really the perfect way to ease back into socializing with new people again.

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    The Effect of the Pandemic on Relationships

    The pandemic brought major impacts on relationships these past years. While some couples have grown stronger, many have crumbled under the added stresses brought into our lives. If you are coming out of a long-term relationship during this time, know you are also not alone. A lot of people have been forced to reassess themselves, their values, and their relationships throughout these times of isolation.

    On the upside, many of us have had more free time to learn more about ourselves and what we want in a partner. A lot of singles have been forced to both deal with loneliness and assess their priorities, and many now realize they are ready to find a committed relationship. Now that more people know what they’re looking for, you are a lot more likely to encounter better communication, more potential long-term partners, and less ghosting!

    How to Conquer the Fear of Dating Again

    Despite living in a pandemic, your dating life can still exist. Conquering the fear of dating again can be difficult, but it’s not impossible! Some tips for conquering FODA include:

    • Making sure you’ve established clear COVID boundaries.
    • Having video dates before meeting IRL to see if you’re a good match.
    • Getting vaccinated! 
    • Using dating apps like HER to meet like-minded LGBTQIA+ women and queer folks.
    • Seeking help with a mental health professional to aid you through anxieties.
    • Being honest about your nerves.

    There are still plenty of opportunities to meet other singles, share amazing experiences together, and even find your special partner. Making authentic connections is always worth the risk of putting yourself out there, so don’t be afraid to take a chance!

    Other Current Dating Trends

    Dating trends have seen more changes with the pandemic than just increased anxiety. Whereas pre-pandemic it was much more possible to meet potential love matches IRL, many singles now rely solely on online dating sites to connect with each other. In addition, more people are:

    • Doing video dates for weeks or even months before ever meeting in person,
    • Using social media to connect with people,
    • And focusing on their mental health and bettering themselves.

    Remember that we’ve all been through this pandemic, and pretty much everyone is in the same boat. Although FODA is a real thing, connecting with people is more important now than ever, and is definitely worth the risk of being vulnerable.

    Learn More with HER

    You can learn more information about dating online and IRL with the HER platform, the leading dating app for connecting with fellow LGBTQAI+ women and individuals.

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    Katie is a writer and creative person based in Seattle who is passionate about the arts, environmental justice, and all things vintage fashion. She celebrates queerness as a natural yet radical state of being, and she strives to make the world a more inclusive place for all. You can find her taking meditative strolls in the rain forests of the Pacific Northwest channeling her inner Bella Swan, or just on IG @ktmarieeee.

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