What to know about post-lockdown dating, from face masks to sex

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Singles rejoice! From Monday, May 17, restrictions on the pandemic in England will be relaxed to allow “up to six people (or two households) to meet indoors” as part of the government’s roadmap to get out of confinement.

Among other things, this is a small win for those yearning to return to in-person dates that don’t include a frosty stroll or outdoor cocktails.

The government is advising the public to make informed personal decisions about close contact, such as cuddling, with friends and family, as the threat of contracting the virus remains.

“We are eyeing each other at the bar”, the dates are finally on the cards. Restaurants and bars will be able to reopen the indoor food court on May 17, while outdoor outdoor areas and pub gardens will remain open to the public.

But you’ll be lucky to take a seat. Some restaurants and pubs, like Water Lane Boathouse in Leeds, which has a large beer garden overlooking the Leeds Liverpool Canal, had more than 700 reservations in just five hours.

In a recent survey, the Hinge dating app found that 79% of its users said it was important to agree on pandemic safety habits with a match before going on a date. you in person. This includes saying if you’re open to socially distant dates or dates with a mask.

So how can singles navigate this new (and frankly weird) dating landscape? We asked the dating experts.

How To Get Back To Dating After Lockdown

To hide or not to hide

According to a recent survey by AdultFriendFinder, women are 30% more likely to wear a face mask on a first date during the pandemic than men. Age was also a contributing factor; people under 30 are three times more likely to wear a mask to a date than those over 50.

Emma Brown, 27, a sales associate from Birmingham, has been on numerous pre-lockdown dates wearing a mask. “My dates and I took a walk in the local park,” she says. “I always wore my mask because I still live with my mother and I didn’t want to put her in danger.” Some dates, Brown suggests, have not responded well. “They felt like if we were outdoors there was no risk. One guy kept joking that I was too dramatic.”

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While it’s true that a speech muffled through a piece of cloth isn’t exactly sexy (unless that’s your thing), luckily there are ways to keep the conversation flowing – and yourself too. safety – when you go out with a mask.

Psychologist and Franchise Relationships founder Greg Nathan writes, “When you wear a mask, the shallow social smile will no longer cut it. If you’re going to smile at someone, think about why you’re really happy to see them.

“It will remind your brain to trigger Duchenne’s smile [a movement characterised by the zygomaticus major muscle lifting the corners of your mouth at the same time the orbicularis oculi muscles lift your cheeks]. “

Nathan suggests that tilting the head is also a good decision. “Tilting your head slightly is also a universal sign of curiosity and interest. I learned this from my dog, Leo.”

Where you can meet

As of March 8, social gatherings outside with another person outside your home are permitted. While the weather isn’t exactly bright for mid-May, you can take advantage of the weather by wrapping up warm and having a picnic at a socially distant date (if you like). From May 17th there is also the option of dining and cocktails inside.

On park bench picnics, Telegraph food columnist Xanthe Clay advises, “Picnics in cooler weather require something warming, like a pie made quickly, hot from the oven. that’s true when they say a steaming cup is the next best thing. ”

His picnic recipes designed to serve two include chicken pittas, soup, beef and blue cheese pastries, and crunchy salty seed crackers. You know what they say: a shared meal brings people together.

For Kate Mansfield, dating coach and relationship expert, the slow approach to dating (which now takes walks in parks and picnics) holds the charm of the Austen era. To have a successful park date, Mansfield says:

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“First of all, it’s about lowering expectations to some extent. I have always said low expectations and high standards and not the other way around. Covid-19 has slowed the dating process down – stop expecting an amazing connection in a cold park. It’s going to take longer, and that’s not a bad thing. ”

Mansfield also suggests that having socially distant dates and wearing a mask makes difficult conversations easier. “There’s that distance and we don’t feel that vulnerable,” she says. “So I think this can really be an opportunity to change your strategy and focus on what’s really important.”

Difficult conversations

Logan Ury, behavior specialist turned dating coach and author of How To Not Die Alone, says: “Talk to your [dating app] Match Your Preferences: Clear communication, especially on difficult topics, is crucial to building a meaningful relationship. Successful couples know how to handle difficult conversations. ”

Ury is the Director of Relationship Science at the Hinge Dating App, and earlier this month she and her team launched Secure Dating Preferences in the app. The all-new feature gives singles a straightforward way to express the type of dates they feel comfortable with, from wearing a mask to virtual dating.

And it couldn’t have come at a better time, a recent survey for Hinge found that the most important thing for 41% of its users is how a match handled pandemic guidelines before meeting in person. .

“Yeah, it’s awkward at first,” says Brown. “But I speak with my dating app about the pandemic matches before I meet them. If they’ve been to secret raves, partying while their family lives in fear at home, that says a lot about their personality. fact that they are a little d – k. ”

Sex

The Terrence Higgins Trust raised eyebrows in August by suggesting people avoid kissing, cover their faces, and choose positions that aren’t face to face during sex (it’s time to dust off the Kama Sutra).

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“Your best sexual partner during the Covid-19 pandemic is yourself [yawn] or someone in your household and you should follow government guidelines for social distancing, hand washing and face covering, ”the Trust said. However, it is unrealistic to ask everyone to abstain from sex indefinitely. ”

For Sami Wunder, dating expert and coach, the issue of privacy is a question of responsibility. “If two people are honest with each other about their exposure levels and the precautions they took, relying on that information is the best option for the mental health of both parties,” she says.

“The virus can still spread, even with the best of intentions, but it’s a risk we all face – even when we go shopping at the supermarket – so as long as both parties do their best to stay safe. security, it is okay in my opinion to go towards natural physical intimacy. ”

There is, however, an advantage to slowing down with potential mates. “My standard recommendation to clients is to always go slow with sex,” says Wunder. “Having sex too quickly can often cloud our judgment; it can cause us to miss red flags; and attach us too quickly to someone who may not be the best long-term partner for us.”

Virtual dates

“The dates of the videos are the new coffee dates,” Ury says. “They are a safe, low-pressure way to connect with a [dating app] match and get a compatibility check. The dates in the videos can help you confidently decide who you want to take the next step with and meet in person. ”

Mansfield also prefers video dates for his clients. “You have to meet people in person eventually. But video dating gives people time to slow down and achieve what they want from a potential partner. Often times we rely on physical attraction and avoid posing these. difficult questions because it can be uncomfortable. ”

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