BEYOND: Dating from a Distance
2020 has been one hell of a year. With the pandemic eliminating normalcy in every area of comfort, there has been a need to readjust the lives of the public. One of the many drastic adaptations in people’s lives within the past several months has been how to approach dating . Distanced dating due to COVID-19 can easily seem like a roadblock to relationship success and for a few, that could unfortunately be the case. However, for the vast majority of new and existing couples, this crisis and the social distancing that it requires could be the best thing that has ever happened to their relationships.
Compared to pre-pandemic dating, there are quite a few significant differences. The biggest and most commonly noted difference is the social distancing norm. The need to stay six feet apart can easily kill the mood on a date and make it feel futile. The necessity of mask-wearing can ruin momentary intimacy and the deepened fear of coronavirus can be maddening when looking for a potential significant other. There are lots of perspectives on the real effects of the pandemic, especially with regard to the difficulty that it has brought to dating.
As a business and communications major at UIS, Jermaine Windham expressed how scary it can be to create connections with others, considering the unknowns that are not always acknowledged. His biggest concern is that, despite being tested frequently, people can never truly know who has it and who does not.“I get FaceTime, I get talking and texting,” he said, “but what about warmth and affection? What about hooking up? There’s nothing you can really, safely do.” This is possibly the biggest safety concern and roadblock that has ever emerged in dating culture. People can often have the coronavirus and be completely unaware of it if they are asymptomatic, and this can be especially problematic when attempting to form a relationship with someone.
Despite the difficult situation, there is much to be thankful for regarding the formation and continuation of romantic relationships. The best way that distanced relationships can provide benefit is through in-depth interactions to cope with the space between individuals, and there are many ways to accomplish this. A craving for connection with the another person can develop using electronic tools that may have never been considered before by most couples. Thus, they can potentially introduce a new “honeymoon phase” stemming from the curiosity of a new experience with their partner. From long phone calls to late night texting sessions, video chats to FaceTime, and the multitude of different apps such as “rave,” there are a multitude of methods that can be used to connect with someone.
Even more than that, the depth of the connection can become stronger than ever because of the distance. In a study performed at City University of Hong Kong, assistant professor Crystal Jiang and her researchers found that, with 63 heterosexual couples, typical communication in those who lived apart was significantly more meaningful and intimate than the frequent communication of couples who live close together or in the same home. This, of course, is not to say that relationships without distance suffer from a lack of intensity or intimacy. But the idea that there is a powerful bond that can be maintained over distance is promising and comforting.
Dating from a distance does not have to be the roadblock to relationship development. The decrease in stress from seeking a companion during the COVID-19 pandemic is another great factor to encourage people to seek them further. The physical intimacy may become even stronger once a pair reunites and can be allowed time to match the emotional intimacy that had been cultivated earlier – the relationship itself can be healthier and stronger as a result.
Considering what life beyond the pandemic will be like, it is likely that people can take lessons from this experience. The distance provides ample time to learn more about a person and develop the best possible bonds to make a strong relationship possible. Gone is the time of being miserable for the situation that has been brought to reality, because now is the best time to be grateful for anything and everything that has the potential to strengthen connections with the most meaningful people. This is truly a sentiment that will last far longer than any pandemic.