For those of you without a spouse or live-in partner, social isolation may have been tough. I can say this because I was one of those people, huddled in the dark with the blinds drawn, and a never-ending cycle of Brooklyn 99 and Archer playing in the background while I stared at the ceiling, just waiting for it to be over. Okay, maybe I am being dramatic, but being alone is hard regardless of a global pandemic.
Certainly having someone who cares for you and who you care for can boost your spirits, and studies have shown that people in romantic relationships are happier, feel more satisfied with their lives, have fewer problems with mental and physical illness, show greater positive affect, and have better levels of self-esteem than single people according to a study in the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Now, dating apps like Tinder and Bumble are great, but where do you go if you want to meet people naturally? Luckily, since the days of isolation way back in March and April, I’ve since found a partner who has ‘cuffed’ me happily, and I am here to guide you through today’s dating world.
Understand the 7 Degrees of Separation
The 7 degrees of separation (not the movie) is a theory that one person is separated from any single person in the entire world, by only seven circles of people. This has become a more common concept in the pandemic as people begin to understand how large social circles can be. Basically, the people you know (first degree), know other people (second), who know others (third), and so on. This is important to understand when trying to date because it can help identify suitable candidates, with a little help from your friends of course. Dating inside your close friend circle may not be a good idea, as it can strain relationships and might make some people feel cut out, but it can be difficult to find people outside of this. Talk to your friends, family members and coworkers – maybe they know somebody just outside of your circle with a fair amount of separation. You don’t have to market yourself as a single person, but speaking with them about who they know will give you a better sense of who might be an option. In this pandemic, it’s also a greater risk to go on dates with strangers who are far outside your circle, as it can be difficult to add them to your bubble and vice versa. The further out you go, the greater risk you are at, but you will be at less of a risk for close friends or family invading your privacy. Now, finding those people can be difficult.
The pandemic has thrown a wrench in the typical workings of casual dating. Bars and clubs, typical scenes for meeting singles, have closed their doors or imposed restrictions that make it difficult or impossible to mingle – but alas, the heart yearns. Instead, try meeting people more naturally. Be more open with strangers and understand that most people, whether they’re in a relationship or not, have been affected by this pandemic. Chances are, they would prefer a nice conversation with a stranger more than they want to return to the same Netflix show they’ve been watching for two months. Ottawa is known for how nice its residents are, compared to larger cities like Toronto or Vancouver, so don’t feel too shy. Like anything, striking up conversations will take some getting used to, especially if you are on the shy side (like me). Even if they’re not someone you are romantically interested in, talking to new people is a skill that can help grow yourself as a person. Oh, and also those new friends might know somebody who will fall for you. A trick I personally use when meeting people for the first time is to pretend like I’ve just emerged from a bubble, and they’re one of the first people to come speak to me. Coincidentally, a lot of people might actually be emerging from a bubble. By doing this, I let the preconceived notions of societal norms and expected awkwardness fall away, and instead just focus on what they’re telling me, as well as how they speak, what they’re wearing, where their eyes look, and all the small details that help pull you into a conversation. I also tend to make a joke (usually sarcasm about the weather) within the first few sentences to show I am not serious. Something like “beautiful day out” when it’s raining, or “I love the sounds of nature” when you hear a garbage truck backing up will help ease any awkward tension and show that you really are just there to have a nice conversation. Other places to naturally meet people might include at the grocery store, in parks, or at networking events. Try checking out some cool events happening in the city, and go to them with a friend who can help introduce you to strangers. Some places not to approach strangers are: on a bus, at a COVID testing facility, in a dark alleyway, while robbing a bank, etc…
Imagine the Person You Like
When you imagine the person you want to be with, what drives them? What do they surround themselves with, what activities do they enjoy, how old are they and what would they like? These questions, although they sound creepy having now just read them, will help you understand who is and isn’t an ideally suitable person for you. They will also help you align yourself with those activities and places, to better your chances of running into someone romantically interesting. If they are a young professional who is ambitious, look up local networking events to attend. These are the simplest ways to meet new people: the dress code is explicitly stated, the topics of conversation are already listed, and the whole point of the night is to connect with and establish relationships with new people. If you try this, you better come prepared to be professional as well, and who knows, maybe you’ll find new clients in the process. The National Capital Charity Classic is one big event coming up.
Is Digital the New Organic?
What I’ve said in all three points, from the social circles to approaching strangers, to imagining everything about the ideal person, can all be applied online as well. Dating apps like Tinder and Bumble are great, but if you are looking for something more original and natural, you can take a look at your very own social media. Instagram and Twitter are common networking sites that people turn to for dating as well. If you apply steps one to three, you’ll be able to identify friends of friends through your follower list and have an easy and almost pressure-free chance at speaking with them. Unfortunately, because it is online and easier to do, you might have more competition, so don’t feel offended if someone simply does not answer. The hardest part about dating digitally, including through dating apps, is holding someone’s attention long enough to make it to the first date. You will have to really make each exchange count, and even if you do everything right, it doesn’t mean they will respond. It’s also hard to get a sense of what the other person is really like, so it may be difficult to judge if they really are your vibe or not. This is why meeting people organically is certainly the best way to find the right partner.