Got FODA (fear of dating again)? Read our guide for romance in a post-pandemic environment

·4 min read

Recently, Variety published a refresher course on a forgotten task: how to dress up.

Our advice on how to get reacquainted with shirts that have buttons and pants that have zippers was such a hit that we decided to do something similar for another complex social skill that we're having to relearn as we emerge from our pandemic bunkers: how to date.

It's advice that a lot of us are looking for. Earlier this month GoogleTrends tweeted that search interest in #dating was at a five-year high in the U.S., "virtual first date ideas" was trending up 450% and "how to date" was a top searched term in Washington, D.C.

Apparently many of us are feeling romantically rusty or possibly suffering from FODA. (That's fear of dating again, a pandemic coinage attributed to Logan Ury "director of relationship science" for dating app Hinge.)

If you're nervous about dating again, here are some essential tips:

1. Wear pants.

Real life dates are different from Zoom dates because it's possible to see the bottom half of your body. It's important when you're just getting to know someone to wear pants — at least in the beginning of a relationship.

2. Take it slowly.

Despite expectations that the post-COVID scene will be one hot vax summer, in reality breaking the 6-foot barrier is the new first base. A fist bump is the new second base. A handshake? Well, that's downright intimate.

3. Ask the right questions.

The new dating deal breakers aren't whether you're allergic to cats or interested in having kids, but "Do you still wear a mask in the grocery store?" or "Do you believe vaccines will make you infertile?"

And instead of you and your date comparing zodiac signs, what you'll want to know is: Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson?

4. Make small talk.

Months of isolation may have left your chitchat skills a little rusty. So here are a few safe, non-controversial talking points to kick-start the feast of reason and flow of the soul when you participate in non-virtual tete-a-tetes: The weather. What you're watching on Netflix. Your new bread baking hobby. Your latest Peloton workout. Your recent home improvement project. Your new pandemic pet. The 1991 Halloween blizzard. Or the weather.

5. Try a COVID-friendly pickup line.

Even after all we've gone through, the fundamental things still apply. You need to introduce yourself. You need to be able to greet someone in person using words that come out of your mouth instead of a phone. Here then are some handy pickup lines appropriate for the times:

• "If I could rearrange the alphabet, I'd put U and I less than 6 feet apart."

• "The CDC said it's OK if I stop masking my feelings for you."

• "Have we met before, or is it just that I'm seeing the bottom half of your face for the first time?"

• "It's hot in here. Is it just you or do I have a breakthrough case of COVID?"

• "I must be a respiratory droplet because you've got me floating on air."

• "Are you the delta variant? Because you're breaking down my defenses."

• "How would you like to relax some lockdown restrictions with me?"

• "Like to go back to my place and do some contact tracing?"

• "The conspiracy theories are right. The vaccine is attracting me to you like a magnet."

• "Is it any coincidence that the virus ends with 'us'?"

6. Make a date.

Once you've exchanged phone numbers and vaccination cards, now what do you do for a date? Walks in the park and video dates are so 2020. Instead try some of these fun first date ideas:

Great news. The traditional movie date is back, but if you don't want to spend a couple of hours indoors with a bunch of strangers, we suggest a drive-in movie. If you're especially COVID-shy, you can go in separate cars.

Happy hour is never a bad idea when you're just getting to know someone. Best of all, if you've both gotten vaccinated you may get your first beer free thanks to incentive programs offering a free or discounted drink if you show your vaccine card at several local breweries, wineries and distilleries.

Why not try a scuba diving class or go to a paintball venue? Doing something adventurous together is a good way to build a bond with a potential partner. Plus there won't be a debate over whether masks are necessary.

Richard Chin • 612-673-1775

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