Now restrictions are easing and we’re being encouraged to venture out again, how can dating be approached safely? Our usual, time-tested advice is to meet in person within two weeks of making a connection online but that’s been impossible! Instead we’ve seen more and more conversations online and the innovative ways members have used technology to develop connections, date and get to know each other better. Our video chat option has allowed members to talk ‘face to face’ without leaving the site and online events have created fun opportunities to meet and mix.
So, what happens next? What are the next steps for dating? With frequently changing guidelines and advice, here’s some advice on working out if you should meet and how to do so safely.
The pandemic has led to a huge increase in communication through screens, and even when there are no restrictions on meeting we expect this to continue. We’ve added a video chat facility to Christian Connection so two members who are online and messaging can easily switch to talking with just a click. If you don’t want to share any personal contact information, it’s a great way to move things on. When you can see each other face to face, you can make eye contact, smile at each other, and get a feel for each other’s personality.
According to the 7-38-55 rule, created by psychologist Albert Mehrabian, an expert in nonverbal communication, words account for just 7% of human communication related to feelings and attitudes, tone of voice accounts for 38% and the remaining 55% comes from nonverbal cues, such as body language and facial expressions. Though we’re all getting used to appearing on video more, it can still feel awkward to meet for the first time that way, but video dating will tell you far more about a person than a phone call on its own. It’s also a good indicator of whether you want to invest more time in getting to know each other and move towards a physical meeting.
When you do feel ready to meet in person, it’s important to make sure you’re showing respect for each other’s boundaries. Check the local situation wherever you’re planning to meet, and how you can avoid putting yourself at risk or making your date feel uncomfortable. Whatever physical distancing restrictions are in place at the time, stick to them. Wearing a face covering may be necessary in some settings, and it can be tempting to feel embarrassed about covering your face, using hand sanitiser or washing your hands when you arrive somewhere, but any safety measures you take are protecting both you and the person you’re meeting and shows you care.
Deciding where to meet
Meeting outdoors is still advised in lots of places, and could be a great opportunity. Arranging a picnic in a park can be simple to do. Bring your own rug to sit on and your own food to eat if you’d prefer not to share. Choosing a spot that gives space but isn’t so secluded you feel vulnerable is a good idea. Alternatively, a walk can give you opportunity to stroll and chat without getting too close, though be sure to pick a place you can travel to safely and that won’t be too crowded. Public transport is still best avoided in some places.
Museums and galleries are slowly reopening too, so you could decide to meet indoors in a place where moving around is part of the experience. If you’re choosing a café, many are starting to offer socially distanced seating, with table service, well-spaced tables or protective screens, outdoor options and drinks or food to take away. Meeting up with so many things to consider could make it hard to focus on actually talking and getting to know each other, but when you do decide the time is right, relax and enjoy!