COVID-19 has changed so many things in our world: the way we eat, how we get groceries, what we can do for fun, and how we connect with people in both platonic and romantic ways. One thing that hasn’t changed? The importance of the internet.

Whether it’s keeping people updated on our lives through social media, exploring a new hobby on an internet forum, or scrolling just to pass the time, COVID-19 has shown us just how essential the internet is in keeping us connected. This applies to dating as well: being online has made it easier to meet that special someone. Whether it’s using a dating app, interacting on social media, or sharing thoughts on an internet forum, meeting people online is here to stay.

With so many people using the internet to find dates and make new friends, how can you make sure things are done in a way that’s comfortable and safe? These ideas may be good to think about as you take those first steps in connecting online.

Check-in with yourself

As with dating in person, it’s always important to check in with yourself first. Ask yourself: “Am I ready to date? Am I interested in more casual dating, or am I trying to meet my forever partner?” Asking yourself these questions is as important as knowing what you’re looking for. It can also help ease some worries and ensure you’re using your time wisely while online.

It’s also a good idea to reflect on what dating looks like to you. Knowing what your boundaries are around things such as communication and intimacy can help you feel confident in yourself as you begin dating.

It’s equally important to check in with yourself about what feels good in the era of COVID-19. Coronavirus has affected how we date, and we all have different feelings about what’s safe and comfortable. Our friends over at Bumble have created resources discussing how dating has changed and ways to prepare yourself for dating during the pandemic.

They also have a section in their app titled “Safety and Wellbeing”, which focuses on things such as first date anxiety, rejection, and caring for your mental health while dating. Exploring these topics before dating can be helpful in evaluating what feels comfortable to you. Reflecting on these things could help you determine if you would prefer to use the video chat option to have an online date before dating in-person, or perhaps rethinking the activities you typically choose for dates.

However you feel about COVID-19, it is important to be honest with your potential match so that everyone feels safe during this time. Setting clear boundaries and expectations will ease some worries about potential in-person dates and give good insight on if your values align or not.

Taking the first step

You’ve been online for a bit, and you found someone that you’re interested in getting to know better. Maybe you met on a dating app, or possibly on a forum talking about your new quarantine hobby. You’re excited, nervous, and asking, “what next?” Though you may have met the person online and will communicate digitally at first, that doesn’t mean that the foundation for a healthy relationship doesn’t apply.

It’s important to be honest with your potential partner about what you’re looking for, as well as setting boundaries and expectations for your communication and interactions. This is especially important when communicating online, as it may be harder to vet the person you’re talking to.

Your boundary could be communicating in the app or platform you met in instead of sharing your personal phone number. Or you may want to video call before meeting in person to get to know each other better. Online communication can make talking frequently much easier. So, stating expectations about the level of communication and topics you discuss with each other is important.

Clearly stating those boundaries and expectations is a crucial step in making sure the relationship is healthy and right for you. Your potential date should respect those boundaries while being honest with you about their own.

Meeting in person

You’ve been communicating with your new match for a while, and you feel comfortable enough to ask them out for an in-person date. While this can be exciting, it’s important to take the steps necessary for you to be comfortable when you meet up with them.

One thing that can help ease the stress of first dates is to have a couple of ideas of what to do when you ask for an in-person date. Having these options can help you feel better on your date, as you can choose a plan that makes you feel most comfortable.

Meeting in public places, such as a park, is always a good idea because there are other people around in case you begin to feel uncomfortable or unsafe. Even if you feel that you know this new person well, you might want to tell a friend or family member where you will be, for how long, or possibly even share your location with them. Consider arranging your own ride to and from the date to give yourself more freedom on when you share your home address with your date. These steps can allow you to feel more comfortable when dating and will help you have fun while getting to know your date better.

Other online spaces

Dating apps are not the only place to meet potential partners online. The internet allows us to connect with people in a variety of ways, including social media or forums related to our favorite hobbies. While the internet is wonderful because it allows us to connect with people around the world, it’s still important to remain safe when online.

Just like meeting people in person, you only have to share what you’re comfortable with when you are online. This could mean using a screen name that doesn’t include personal or identifying information and keeping items such as your job or home addresses protected. Some people are very open online, sharing deep thoughts or emotions, while others prefer to lurk, scroll and remain anonymous. How you act is up to you, and there is not a wrong choice.

You have the right to set boundaries online, and only respond to people you know and trust. Unfortunately, some people find it easier to violate boundaries while online, so don’t hesitate to report toxic behavior, report users who are abusive or block them from your page. You know what you’re comfortable with and what feels right, so trust your gut when meeting people online.

Conclusion

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the internet’s importance in helping us meet new people, build community, and explore our new passions or hobbies. It gives us new ways to meet people, allows us to explore dating, and form relationships in new ways.

No matter how you meet a new partner, you still deserve to be in a relationship that makes you feel comfortable and aligns with what you’re looking for. Whether you recently tried online dating, or if it is your go-to for meeting new people, our advocates are here 24/7 to answer any questions you may have. You can chat online with our advocates at love is respect , text “LOVEIS” to 22522, or call us at 1.866.334.9474.

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