Written by Jay Johnson

With COVID restrictions lifting as we move tier-to-tier, mass vaccine administration, and businesses reopening, we’re catching a glimpse of life returning to some kind of normalcy. What’s included in that normalcy for a lot of us is dating. But how do we return to dating [and fucking] with the uncertainty of the virus and pandemic still lingering?

Many of us differ in our views of the pandemic and how it’s been handled by government officials, but I believe we all have common goals of staying safe, staying alive, remaining healthy, but also satisfied, as well. Our vibrators and male masturbators have undoubtedly gotten the bulk of our sexual attention, but it’s time to have partner play toys in our collections again. How do we get back, our healthy social/dating lives that fulfills our need for human connection (and sex) and possibly finds us love partnerships that last? How do we get over the habits of disconnection we’ve unwittingly developed by social distancing for the past year? How do we touch, hug, or dare I say it, sleep with a person we’ve recently met without the fear of transmission of a communicable disease? How do we move past fear, to fully live again? Hopefully in the next few minutes we’ll gain some insight together on how we can do our part individually and collectively to return to normal (or at least create a new one).

Did we forget how to flirt?

I don’t know about you, but I sure do miss getting texts in my group chats, planning nights out to go dancing. The chance to dance with friends, share drinks and laughs, and maybe go home with a number or two, was elating. Bars and clubs were a great place to meet new people, take in new energies, and just simply flirt or connect with others. Most of that has been lost, but certainly not forgotten, and many of us want that back. Screens have all but ruined most of my social [bar/club] skills. I went from mackin’ in the club to masturbating with my screen off looking at my Zoom classmate (at least the HolyFour Suction Vibe is quiet.. highly recommend).

Not sure what the dating world has been like for you, but I’ve had to make major adaptations to my approach just to keep myself interested. It can get pretty boring to constantly match with people, talk for maybe a day, then never talk again. If you’ve got two shy people on opposite sides fo the screen, it just ends with a whole lot of masturbation. We’ve forgotten how to flirt fam, because it’s best done in person. Sure I wrote a piece on “sexting” not too long ago, but most people don’t even flirt well enough [online] to get there.

We have forgotten how to flirt, but it’s easy to get back to it! The next time you have a match, meet someone out walking, or whatever ways you’re meeting new people these days, remember your goals. You have a goal of one day finding love (or at least a hook-up), so act like it! Send that text that says how much you like them, suddenly bring up the topic of adult toys, offer virus-safe date options, and go on that date! Flirting is showing interest in someone in a playful way, so be fun, be playful and be your beautiful, sensual self.

What does dating even look like, now?

Dating apps these days offer more online features than ever, and understandably so, but has that caused us to regress as social beings into an at-home comfortability that limits meaningful face-to-face connections? Staying safe in 2020 meant online matching, Zoom meet ups, porn, masturbating. For the very daring, maybe you went on a ‘nature date” outdoors with a mask. Many though, in fear of the virus, stopped dating altogether or never made it past the Zoom/masturbation stage, severely weakening any acquired social skills. Now, more than ever, we are glued to our screens for interaction (all of us), and it’s making us ill-equipped for real-life interactions in the near future. Dating [even online] went from texting for a few days to build enough nerve to meet, to messaging on Hinge or Instagram for days before building enough nerve to just ask for the cell number. Of course there were the bold, who decided to meet up after negative COVID test results, but most of us weren’t taking on any new interactions. And for those of us that did, there weren’t many places to go. I remember trying to go hiking with a person I was interested in, only to arrive and find the trail closed due to COVID.

Now that things are opening up again, travel has less restrictions, and cases/deaths are decreasing, we have more options to get back to it. Gyms, restaurants and movie theaters are opened, along with other popular “date activity” places. So we we have to get reacquainted with matching, engaging, and feeling comfortable enough to make plans out in the real world. We have to remember what it was like to be in front of the person-of-interest and feel the magnetic attraction (or repulsion) first-hand and not through a screen. We have to remember that dating technology is meant to bridge the gap between people so that maybe real, in-person connections are made, but we’re still on opposite sides of the gap DM-ing each other.

Closing that gap means getting comfortable with the uncomfortable. Easy to do in the gym, but hard to do with the heart. But it’s really simple to do. If you regularly went on dates that included lots of indoor activities, switch to outdoor. Most businesses have pushed the walls to their brick-and-mortar buildings to extend outdoor options, so do your research and find the best venue for your date. If you aren’t used to getting COVID tests by now, let me tell you, dating is going to be a trial until you do. No one meets for anything major, or travels without obtaining their COVID virus test results. So plan ahead for yourself and your love interest to have results before you go out. You’ll both feel safer and will be doing your part to “slow the spread.”

Is the vaccine the new condom?

After the initial outbreak of the AIDS epidemic (which is still ongoing today), what was widely pronounced as the ‘first line of defense’ against it, were condoms. COVID vaccines are used in the same way today, as presentation as an aid to the pandemic solution. They are not in any way, the solution, but doctors, health officials, government officials, celebrities, radio show hosts and a slew of others are promoting ‘getting the vaccine’ heavily as a way to get back to normal. Condoms allow for the peace of mind of sexual partners while continuing to do what they love (each other) without the risk of contraction. Vaccines are rendered similarly; they are a way for us to be safer, again.

If you are opposed to getting the vaccine, what does that mean for you? Do you need to prepare to lock yourself away in a tower, never to singly mingle again? Hard to tell, as of late. With travel restrictions lightening for those that are vaccinated, it’s hard to believe that it’s not going to be a rocky road for the unvaccinated. Only time will tell how far restrictions will go for the those that get the shot versus those that don’t, but I can bet you that they will likely favor those that do.

How badly do you want to sit in that restaurant, or that movie theater? How badly do you want to take your “person” to that new attraction? Badly enough to get vaccinated? I think the time to start making that decision is now, because it may be a decision we all have to make sooner or later, if we’re to get back to normal.

Beyond science and government, how do you really feel?

Living in the “land of the free” hasn’t been tested nearly as much as it has throughout this pandemic. Simple freedoms were taken away, and we were told what to do, where to go, how to act, and in some cases, how to think (media). So with all the uncertainties behind this past year’s novel pandemic, how do you really feel about COVID and going back out into the [dating] world?

This is the question, that once answered, will help you more than any blog or CDC article ever could. Do you feel safe or at risk? If the answer is at risk, I’d suggest getting the vaccine and waiting for more drops in numbers before attempting to date again. Part of healthy dating is mindset, and if you’re walking into a date already stressed about crowds, or masks, or anything COVID-related, it’s going to carry-through in your presence (or preoccupancy) during the date. Plus there are wayyy too many sex toys that can keep you satisfied while you flirt online (or try to, haha). Keeping a “pod” or “bubble” has helped countless people throughout this ordeal, so maybe start one full of vaccinated singles so you can all date again!

If your answer is, you feel safe, either you’ve been vaccinated, or you trust your body to overcome whatever virus might be thrown at it. If you don’t feel at risk, you’re probably counting the days and watching every county update for things to reopen. Without breaking any mask laws or getting too close to other people, try a nice outdoor date to begin, then move to newly reopened indoor activities. The weather is warming up as Spring is underway, so find or create your own adventures with your new Tinder match.

Whatever side you fall on [feeling safe or unsafe] once you feel comfortable enough, set dates, get tested, get vaccinated (if you are for it) and go out and live your life as best you can. The longer you wait, the longer it’ll take to find that special someone, or at least a good, post-COVID fuck. The world will reopen, and it’s up to you how soon that happens on a personal level. Be safe, be sexy, be satisfied!

Until next time..