The past couple of years have felt like something out of a dystopian nightmare and the way we navigate through our wider world has changed dramatically with the dating landscape taking a big hit. Gone were the days when you could flirt with the waiter serving you for the night. Gone were the messy nights where you’d find yourself dancing with a random stranger in the middle of a speakeasy bar at 1 am in the morning.
And this is only the physical aspect. Don’t even get me started on the effects this pandemic has had on the emotional aspects of dating. People have become so emotionally exhausted from everything that you may as well have a crack at breaking into a Swiss bank instead. Due to the lack of certainty, people have become more closed-off than ever before, resulting in some pretty shitty dates.
But let us face it. Dating requires emotion. And quality dates require a certain level of vulnerability. However, I know people who would much rather take their chances with Russian roulette than even portray an ounce of vulnerability.
So how can you be more vulnerable while dating so you actually feel things? You know like butterflies in your stomach and nervous excitement leading up to an evening at a nice restaurant?
The key to feeling all of the above and still maintaining your sanity is to take on the approach of being ‘tough not hard’ when it comes to modern-day dating. Let me explain.
After going on one too many dates that resulted in me kissing more frogs than princes, I was tempted to barricade myself from all and any emotion. That way experiencing disappointment would be out of the question. I quickly realised that while this tactic may have worked by allowing me to move onto the next potential date with little to no emotional backlash. Over time it also got rid of the good stuff (i.e. the thrill of going mini-golf with someone new, trying a new coffee spot in an old suburb).
I became so obsessed with safeguarding my emotions that it stopped me from being open and honest about who I was. It stopped me from being vulnerable.
So I took a step back from the dating scene, sipped a gin and tonic and mulled over my response to the following question: If I had to continue dating new people for the foreseeable future, what would be the one skill that I would have to develop to ensure that I did not stab someone in the eye with a butter knife at the dinner table?
Based on my previous experiences, I realised that I would have to learn to process disappointment while maintaining an open mind. Because truthfully there were going to be numerous instances where I would end on a couple of dates with someone and almost see a glimmer of hope, only to be confronted with the harsh reality of it not working out. And that is where I would have to learn to be tough. Tough enough to process the disappointment, but not so tough that I would completely shut myself off from other candidates.
All of this was going to require a change in attitude and quite honestly would take a shit tonne of courage. But if there ever was a chance that you could walk away from a date feeling the same level of joy that you did when you ‘accidentally’ brushed your fingers against the palm of your high school sweetheart for the first time, isn’t it worth it?