5 Things I’ve Learned Dating in 2020
Dating in 2020 feels like a sick running joke, but here are five things I’ve learned
This year I had plans to “date myself.” I wanted to try out new cafes around my city, see movies by myself, go to anime conventions, meet new people, and travel the world! 2020 I wanted to be spontaneous, and I spent the money to do precisely that; I booked plane tickets, Airbnb's, and made itineraries for destinations. Unfortunately, 2020 had other plans. Now “dating myself” is spending a Friday night burning candles, sipping tea, and watching Netflix.
So I decided to compensate for at least the social aspect of my plans and tried app-dating. It’s one of the ways you can meet people from different countries and engage in fun conversations, or at least, so I thought. The combination of dating platforms like Tinder and Bumble, and the major pandemic we’re living through makes dating a nightmare. I’m limited to at least a single photo, age, location, and vague description. And there’s a slim chance I’ll ever feel comfortable enough to leave my safe, sanitized home to meet a stranger in the middle of a major pandemic.
Despite these problems, I’m still persevering and challenging myself to learn to talk to other people, other than my parents and close friends. I know people say to enjoy being single, and I do, but I’m determined to emerge out of my introverted shell. And since traveling and sipping overpriced cappuccino at a fancy cafe is out of the question, I figured, what do I have to lose?
Here are some things I’ve learned so far dating in 2020
Don’t take yourself SO seriously.
I have a list of things I’m looking for in a person, and I take that list pretty seriously, especially after my last relationship. I’ve also done a lot of growing up compared to the last time I was on the dating scene. So, I’m doing my best not to repeat history and be a bit more cautious when getting close to people. There’s nothing wrong with knowing what you want and proceeding with caution. However, sometimes I forget, it’s not that serious.
Dating is supposed to be “fun.” You have to loosen up and allow different opportunities to come to you. Explore different countries! Swipe right if you like someone's dog! Please don’t wait for someone to start a conversation. Start it yourself! If you shut out all opportunities, you might miss someone who may check off all those boxes. I’m still learning to loosen up, especially when on Tinder. Let’s be real; there’s not much you know about a person when you choose to swipe right. The description box only allows for so many words. You’re not going to get a resume and cover letter. So, don’t think, just swipe.
Don’t be hard on yourself.
You will meet rude people. They will question your choices, integrity, sexuality, intelligence, and not in a sincere way either. Those people can leave you feeling upset, offended, annoyed, angry, and sometimes doubtful. Even though they’re just strangers, it can still sting a little. Those people have you defending yourself anywhere from minutes to hours, and it’s not a pleasant experience.
There have been a few encounters that had me questioning if I’m “dating correctly.” I asked myself if my expectations are too high, if I’m asking for too much, or should I be giving myself sooner? But, my beloved friend of 20+ years reassured me I’m doing just fine. Some people are dealing with things and project their insecurities and baggage onto you. Don’t let those individuals waiver your self-esteem or push their expectations onto you. Be kind to yourself, and if you meet someone trying to push the wrong buttons, “unmatch” them. Don’t argue with people who are not worth your energy or time. And don’t let those people instill doubt in your choices.
If you’ve recently come out of a long-term relationship, jumping into the dating pool can leave you a bit shell shocked and overwhelmed. It’s been almost a year for me, and I’m still overwhelmed. Nonetheless, breathe and take things one step at a time. You don’t need to jump into a relationship right now. Take each conversation with a new person as practice. You can learn how to introduce yourself, ask and answer questions, and learn your love language.
I have no idea what my love language is, but with a combination of learning to love myself and practicing talking to other people, I’m sure I’ll figure it out. And so will you! Be patient with yourself.
Don’t feel pressured to meet if you’re not ready.
With or without COVID, I’m not a fan of meeting people I don’t know. I’m an incredibly shy person, and it’s tough to speak in person when I haven’t built a connection with that person. However, I find more matches want to meet up after a day or two of talking. It’s so odd to me. I recently asked a friend about what’s the appropriate time to meet someone after matching on Tinder. She said, meet up with a person when you genuinely feel excited about them. If you don’t feel excited about them, don’t worry about it.
It completely slipped my mind that part of dating is feeling excited about meeting someone. You should want to meet that person and want to spend your spare time with them. If you’re not comfortable, that probably means you need more time for that excitement to kick in, or maybe that person isn’t for you.
Please don’t feel like you need to meet a person to decide about them. Meeting in person is great, but only when you’re comfortable. Especially during these difficult times, you want to pick your dates very wisely.
It’s okay not to like someone anymore.
Say you’ve been talking to someone for a few months. You’ve got a feel for their personality, and you realize they’re just not for you. It’s ok to say, “This isn’t working out.” I recently met someone like that. I noticed a lot of recurring patterns in his behavior that I 100% don’t tolerate. So, I ended it.
You’re dating, not in a relationship! Don’t let anyone guilt-trip you into staying because they feel you shouldn’t give up on them. Dating is very different from being in an active relationship. In a relationship, you should try to resolve a problem before giving up on a person, unless that person is physically, verbally, or emotionally abusive. However, when you’re dating, you have a right to say, “Hey, I’m just not feeling this.” If you lose excitement or feel bored or annoyed when you‘re talking to a person in those initial few months, then it’s not going to get better later on. You want to feel happy when you speak to someone, not feel like you’ve been in a dying relationship of five years after five months.
Those first few months talking to a person is the best time to observe their behavior and find things you can or cannot tolerate. And it’s okay to have something you don’t accept. Don’t let anyone tell you that your no-tolerance policy is unreasonable. There’s a reason you don’t tolerate certain behaviors, and you don’t need to justify that to anyone.
Know when you’re getting played
My reasons for being on Tinder are quite simple: I’m browsing. I want to meet someone, build a strictly platonic friendship, and we’ll figure out the rest from there.
One person I met said he wanted to get to know someone and be intimate with them, but still be friends. I was taken a little aback, but decided to inquire about the intimacy portion. Maybe he meant getting to know them first and intimacy much later, but that was not the case. And, that was a giant red flag. In my opinion, it sounded like this person wanted all the perks of a relationship without committing.
If you’re anything like me and want to take things slow, stay far away from these matches. Nobody wants to be in a situation where they don’t know if they’re in an exclusive relationship, an open relationship, or just flat out friend-zoned. It too confusing and can lead to a lot of heartache. Especially if you’re fresh out of a rocky relationship that ended poorly, these individuals are not for you! Your heart is still quite tender from the hurt, and you need someone who will treat it kindly and gently.
I want to save intimacy until I feel like the feelings are mutual. So the topic of intimacy isn’t something we’ll get to until we’ve gotten to know each other pretty well. However, not everyone is like that, and that’s fine! It’s good to identify where you draw the line and know when you’re getting played. Please keep your eyes peeled for individuals trying to play with your time and feelings and stay far away from them.
Dating in 2020 is not what I thought it would be, but then again, 2020 is not what I thought it would be. Be kind to yourself, be patient, have fun, but most importantly, be happy with or without a companion. At some point, we all suffer a failed relationship, and we have to pick up the pieces and continue where we left off. But, dating shouldn’t be your way of filling a void in your heart. It should be about exploring all those fish in the sea and figuring out what compliments you best. If you don’t know yourself, you won’t know what’s right for you. The way I see it, dating is like a side quest. It builds experience, levels you up, explores a different side of the game called life, and if you’re lucky, you might come out with a special reward.