Blissful Returns: Post-Pandemic Dating

Photo courtesy of BigStock/mast3r
Photo courtesy of BigStock/mast3r

If someone asked me to rank the priorities in my life right now, finding new and meaningful connections would be pretty high on that list. I’m not alone in this feeling either. According to Fortune, dating apps like Tindr, OkCupid and Bumble all saw huge surges in activity during 2020, while social media apps like TikTok have been growing in popularity as a way for people who may be isolated from the queer community to connect with like-minded folks from all over the world. 

But now we’re in post-lockdown, the vaccine is ubiquitous, and people are slowly starting to get together in person again. For some that means long-awaited reunions with family and friends, and for many people (myself included) this also means dipping our toes back into the murky waters of the dating pool. 

So where do we start? Well, dating apps are certainly a popular method of finding potential matches, but they aren’t for everyone. Most are still heavily geared towards a heterosexual audience and aren’t a great reflection of what’s actually out there. If you’re not really a fan of technology-based meet-ups, there’s good news: Establishments and venues in the Twin Cities are opening up again! If you’re looking for gay bars or clubs, Bar 19, The Saloon and Ground Zero, to name just a few, are all definitely worth checking out—but there are also a number of LGBTQ-friendly spots, such as Part Wolf, Hell’s Kitchen and Nightingale. 

Whatever your preference for finding connections might be, here are a few things to keep in mind as you return to the scene.

Safety first

Masking up isn’t the only safety measure to take into account when heading back out on the town—many venues are now requiring proof of vaccination (or a recent negative Covid test, both of which you can—and should—snap with your phone) at the door, so make sure you come prepared. 

Preparation is important for meeting up one-on-one as well. If you’ve never met the person, make sure to discuss preferred Covid safety measures beforehand to make sure everybody’s on the same page. I’ve heard plenty of horror stories from friends who didn’t do this, and I for one wouldn’t wish that discomfort or potential risk on anyone. 

Clear intentions

From stats and listicles across the internet, one thing is clear: people are returning to dating with new outlooks. 

“Life’s too short to spend years of your life trying to fix the unfixable,” a friend recently disclosed when I asked how Covid had affect their dating life. “Even when meeting new people, I want to be relatively impressed or feel like I really like someone before I allow them into my bubble.”

Time spent reflecting over quarantine has given many the push they needed to assess their standards, reexamine old habits, and adjust their expectations. Authenticity and honesty are being rated as the most important qualities that singles are looking for, so ditch the games and allow yourself to get real with people. 

Make it fun

Once upon a time, in the days before Covid, I was bemoaning the hardships of single life to my father, of all people, and he had some words of wisdom I don’t think I’ll ever forget. Put simply? Dating should be fun! There’s no way to know if the person you’re meeting up with is going to be a good fit, but that doesn’t mean the experience has to be a chore. 

Prefer a low-stakes first date? Try a trendy coffee shop you haven’t visited before. My personal favorites are Dogwood Coffee Company and Café Astoria. Want something more exciting for date number three or four? Now’s the perfect time to check out the fairs, both Renaissance and State. Otherwise, a quick Google will turn up any number of local festivals and events.

Or if you prefer to stay indoors, the Twin Cities is big on art, science and history museums. One underappreciated place I like to frequent is the Bakken Museum by Bde Maka Ska—it has a beautiful garden full of medicinal plants, as well as exhibits exploring the legacy of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Lastly, remember that it’s okay if you’re nervous about getting back out there. We all are. 

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