It’s never been this tough being single. In most of my coaching sessions, I work with people on strategies for finding the right partner. Where to start, how to shortlist, how long to stay on in-app messaging, and finally, how to think about next steps once you’ve established a good connection.
Online offerings are the best choice, obviously, amid the pandemic. But with the option of quick and numerous dates off the table, many say the fatigue of meaningless swiping is getting to them. Others complain that there are far too many married people on these platforms. And some are tired of wasting their time on people that turn out to be bots. So how best to navigate the world of dating in Covid-19?
Start by limiting your presence to no more than three apps at a time. Once you have started conversations, restrict them to a maximum of four people at a time. Both these tactics help prevent fatigue.
About 48 hours in, politely ask if you can shift the chat to video either in-app or via Zoom. This will help weed out the bots and some of the catfishers.
When it comes to married people on dating apps, I’d recommend asking directly on the video chat, early on, if the person is single, unattached and unmarried. Observe how they answer the question — that’s why it’s important to do this on video. Of course, there will be those who can and will game this, but that’s a risk you run in the real world too.
One can also think out of the box. As events shift online — from discussion forums to food and even travel experiences — there are new opportunities to interact with like-minded people. Starting a conversation is easy. The risk of ending up chatting with a bot or a catfisher is mitigated. Best of all, you already know you have something in common.
It’s important in such a scenario to tread carefully and not come across as aggressive or desperate. Since these are not platforms specifically meant for singles looking to mingle, you need to be sure that your attention is being well received, and isn’t making the other person, or the others present, at all uncomfortable.
Mild flirting is ideal — the kind I was recently tickled to see between two participants in a Zoom improv event I attended. If all goes well, you can privately exchange coordinates to continue building on the connection. Here, I’d like to add that you should strictly avoid pinging someone on more than one platform. Bombarding them with friend and follow requests on social and professional forums is a huge turn-off.
Navigating a meeting, of course, is a whole other challenge, which brings me to a pivotal point — look out for the trap of synthetic relationships. Avoid letting things become so involved via chat and call that you develop strong feelings, shared habits and routines with someone you have never met.
A good way to avoid this is to make sure you don’t attach yourself to one person online. Because the truth is there is no such thing as a committed relationship that’s completely virtual.
(Simran Mangharam is a dating and relationship coach and can be reached on email@example.com)