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FODA: The Pandemic’s Latest Impact on Dating

If you’re single and ready to date as pandemic restrictions lift, you may have developed a new anxiety. The “fear of dating again” or FODO is a very real thing. For many, the pandemic meant virtual dating with the security of being in your home behind a screen. However, with face-to-face dating, you’re exposed and constantly on the alert for symptoms of COVID-19.

According to recent online dating polls, two of three respondents reported increased anxiety and stress regarding dating again. Dating is supposed to be a fun way to connect and enjoy new people, but when you’re stressed about details, such as illness or job loss, you’re less likely to put yourself out there. If you’re feeling fearful about dating and wondering if it’s worth it, here are some suggestions that can help you confront your anxiety:

· Focus on enjoying your date rather than securing a life partner. If you have FODA, avoid focusing on finding the right one; instead, plan sometime fun to do. Sometimes making it a little less serious and a little more fun will make dating less disappointing and intimidating.

· Give yourself time to ease back into dating. The pandemic slowed everything down so don’t expect to go back to your dating life the way you did pre-pandemic. Taking time to re-think things is emotionally mature. Put yourself out there when you’re ready without pressure from family or friends.

· Prepare to be curious and interested in your date instead of trying to impress them. Trying to impress someone takes a lot of energy, and it’s easier to stay in and not engage. Make your dating experience about getting to know the other person and take the pressure off yourself. This reduces FODA and helps you connect on a friendship level first.

· Practice calming pre-date jitters. If you’re feeling more anxiety dating since the pandemic, go back to routine stress coping skills. Breathing deeply or reciting calming mantras can make you feel in control and confident. These coping skills can also help you avoid canceling at the last minute.

· Take the plunge. FODA is nothing to be ashamed of, and many are struggling with it since the pandemic. Dating is like any other social engagement – if you’re out of practice, you begin doubting yourself. Making yourself go instead of flaking out is a part of being a responsible adult. Who knows, you may find the love of your life waiting for you.

The pandemic has complicated many areas of life. Although it has complicated dating, too, don’t let your fear limit your ability to meet someone who adds companionship and love into your world. Feel the fear and do it anyway!


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