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Virtual dating amidst COVID-19: FAQs and tips from a relationship expert

In a time when connection is desired more than ever but difficult to achieve, many have taken to virtual methods of feeling connected. UF/IFAS Extension SMART Couples agent Stephanie Norman shares tips for feeling close while apart during COVID-19. SMART Couples is a five-year federal grant project designed to strengthen marriages, relationships, and families among Florida residents.

Q: How can someone feel connected while dating virtually during COVID-19?

A: Creating a routine for daily communication with your partner can help you feel connected while dating virtually during COVID-19. A daily text message, phone call, or even an email can help ease the feeling of being disconnected. Letting your partner know that you are thinking about them throughout the day can help strengthen your bond.

Another way to stay connected is to remind your partner of their strengths and recall positive memories that you have shared in the past. This can also help ease the longing for their comfort. Rather than focusing on how you are apart, focus on the positive experiences that you two have shared in the past.

Q: What is important to keep in mind when virtually dating?

A: Safety

  • Do your research! Once you have your potential date’s name, photo, and any additional information, look around on various social media platforms to see what other information comes up. Do you have any mutual friends? Also, use a service like Google Voice to set up a temporary phone number until you are comfortable with using your personal number.
  • Also, be careful about the information you share about yourself upfront. Disclosing where you live, work, and frequent (i.e. a specific grocery store) before getting to know each other could put you in danger.

Get to know your potential date

  • ​Building a friendship of trust and communication is key for a healthy relationship. Begin asking your date questions about their interests/passions, hopes/dreams/fears, past family experiences, past relationships, plans and priorities. Ask your date, “What makes you feel the most loved and appreciated?” These questions can help you assess if your personalities and expectations are aligned.

Q: Why is emotional connection important for people, romantic or otherwise?

 A: Without a strong emotional connection, romantic or otherwise, people will drift apart. “Bids for connection,” coined by couples’ specialists Drs. John and Julie Gottman of the Gottman Institute, is an attempt to gain attention, affection, and/or acceptance. These bids for connections appear in our daily conversations and help strengthen our relationships each time we turn toward our partner to listen. Discussing how your day went, sharing personal accomplishments, sending a link or post about a common interest, and expressing concerns are all considered bids for connection during a conversation. These topics help strengthen our bonds with the people in our lives and the discussions provide the opportunity for enlightenment about their personalities.

Q: Do you expect an uptick in virtual dating beyond the COVID-19 crisis?

 A: I do expect an uptick in virtual dating beyond the COVID-19 crisis. With social distancing guidelines and an uncertain future, I believe people will spend more time courting their potential partner online before meeting up in person. Social establishments and events (i.e. night clubs, music concerts, sporting events, etc.) offer the opportunity to meet in person in a public place, so with these places being limited due to COVID-19, more people will likely be online looking for that connection and “spark.”

Beginning June 1, UF/IFAS Extension SMART Couples classes are held virtually. Courses cover an array of relationship topics and allow participants the opportunity to practice the skills in session with instructors.

Classes are free and open to the public. For more information, visit the UF/IFAS Extension SMART couples website.

 

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