• Aubrey Harris

Will dating and relationships ever be the same?

Updated: Jul 16

Now more than ever, we hear about the challenges and disappointment that encompass modern dating and relationship stability. The height of the pandemic created a less than ideal online dating climate in which individuals sought partnership to relieve desperation related to uncertainty, loneliness and boredom (Chisom, 2021; Portolan & McAlister, 2022; ). Instead of creating lasting healthy relationships, this mindset created a revolving door of disillusion and dysfunction.

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For singles, this is reflected in downloading dating apps in hope of meaningful matches only to delete (and eventually re-download) when virtual communication/connection falls flat. Even if virtual relationships sustain, Wright & Wachs (2021) affirm that relationship quality (i.e., growth, personality, emotional intelligence, interaction patterns, and partner support) goes down when maintained via technology. For those already in relationships, the pandemic sourced stress spillover where external factors such as finances, anxiety/depression, and isolation cause a negative blow to relationship health (Neff, et al., 2021). Further, relying solely on a partner for primary social support begins to blur the lines of healthy versus codependent attachment.


Unfortunately, the negative relational patterns sourced during the pandemic have sustained as many individuals begin to embrace in-person contact again. However, hope is not lost. Taking the time to reframe your personal attitude towards dating and relationships can significantly improve the quality of your intimate interactions. Consider trying some of the following reflective activities:

  • Take stock of what you value most in a partner/relationship.

  • Identify underlying fears that disable you from making objective observations/decisions (i.e., loneliness, boredom, challenges getting back out there, self-esteem).

  • Try something new (i.e., limiting how many matches you talk to at once, handwritten letters, care packages, socially distanced meet-ups, designated “me” time).

  • Engage your resources: If you desire to meet someone more organically, make an effort to integrate yourself into community/social activities or chat rooms. This increases your likelihood of meeting someone with similar interests and within proximity.

So, will dating and relationships ever be the same? The simple answer is no. Human interaction is forever evolving and though we wish for the nostalgia of courtship from “back in the day,” ever-increasing access to people and social uncertainty suggests that we will only continue to have more options, obstacles, and adaptations. However, acknowledging individual core values, strengths/weaknesses, and areas of flexibility allows us to shape relationships based on mutuality rather than the social climate.


References

Chisom, O. (2021) Effects of Modern Dating Applications on Healthy Offline Intimate Relationships during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Review of the Tinder Dating Application. Advances in Journalism and Communication, 9, 12-38. doi: 10.4236/ajc.2021.91002.


Wright, Michelle F. and Wachs, Sebastian (2021).Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking.493-498.http://doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2020.0729


Neff, L. A., Gleason, M. E., Crockett, E. E., & Ciftci, O. (2021). Blame the Pandemic: Buffering the association between stress and relationship quality during the COVID-19 pandemic. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 19485506211022813.


Portolan, L., McAlister, J. (2022) Jagged Love: Narratives of Romance on Dating Apps during COVID-19. Sexuality & Culture 26, 354–372. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-021-09896-9