Not Ready To Dive Headfirst Into the Dating Pool After Lockdown? Here Are 3 Tips for Honoring Your Boundaries

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Amid the pandemic, so much about life changed, and that includes many of the ways folks date. For instance, 2020 saw the rise of virtual-only dating, masked dates, and having serious conversations about pandemic-outlook compatibility before deciding whether or not to meet in person. And after a year and a half of shifting the ways in which folks can safely romantically connect under pandemic guidelines, it makes sense that cultivating boundaries surrounding dating post-lockdown is also necessary.

That's because despite social-distancing regulations loosening and most of the country being fully open, not all people who are dating are equally ready to drop the habits and precautions they adopted surrounding romantic communication during the pandemic. After all, human beings are creatures of habit, and after having adjusted to the ways of pandemic living, it stands to reason that we may not be totally ready to swing back immediately.

Want more tips for dating during this "hot vax summer"? Listen to this episode of The Well+Good Podcast.

Furthermore, during the pandemic, we were all asked to not only follow the laws and rules placed on us, but many folks also created their own rules or boundaries for how they, personally, wanted to interact with the world and other people. Now that we are all processing a new sense of normalcy as we return in many ways to the way life was lived pre-pandemic, a question persists: How does one uphold the personal boundaries that they desire to honor while dating in a post-lockdown world? Below find three tips on how to do just that.

3 tips for dating post-lockdown in a way that honors your personal boundaries

1. Define what your intentions are before meeting up

What are you currently looking for in the dating scene? A fling? Maybe a friend-with-benefits dynamic? A serious connection that may lead to a long-term commitment like marriage? Knowing your intentions is critical when it comes to dating, because it helps to weed out folks who are not aligned in sharing your goals.

Honesty is always key, but we first have to be honest with ourselves in order to be honest with others.

When you know what you are looking for, you can communicate that clearly and assess whether or not the person you swiped right on is going to be able to give you what you are looking for. Honesty is always key, but we first have to be honest with ourselves in order to be honest with others. Once you own this, you will be able to set clear boundaries around what you are willing to tolerate and what you aren’t.

2. Know your limits, and communicate them

Over the last year and a half, you may have developed certain habits or routines that are needed to maintain and manage your mental health. Maybe you started saying no to things that deplete you of your energy, as well as to things that you feel are a safety risk for contracting COVID-19. It’s important to know what your limits are and share this with the person you are considering dating. As individuals, we are responsible for giving people the blueprint on how to be in a relationship with us, and the best way to do that is by communicating our needs, differences, and limits.

And to be sure, even in a post-lockdown world, there may still be some precautions you're not ready to abandon and some guidelines you're not ready to ease. For example, if you don't want to have an in-person date, or you want to continue wearing a mask, or you prefer not to hug, that's okay. Whatever it is that makes you feel most comfortable, don’t be afraid to speak up.

3. Give yourself permission to change your mind

Sometimes we think we know what we want until experience comes along and changes our mind. For example, maybe you thought you wanted something short-term and casual, or maybe you thought you were ready to go all out and find your future long-term partner. Either way, it's okay to give yourself permission to pause, reflect, and reconsider—especially when you're dating after a long year. Now is a great time to figure out what you want for yourself, and you might even find that dating is actually something you want to put a pause on all together.

Ultimately, the post-lockdown world can be difficult to navigate. Just remember that you get to take things at your own pace—and that applies to all things, dating very much included. Start defining your boundaries in advance, and don’t be afraid to communicate them to potential dating candidates.

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