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Women Say They've Got FODA (Fear Of Dating Again) After Lockdown

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Women Say They've Got FODA (Fear Of Dating Again) After Lockdown

For many of us single folk, lockdown has meant a full year without dating.

Those 12 months have provided somewhat of a catch 22. While many women have been eagerly awaiting a bit of flirt again (you know, the kind that's not over a zoom screen), some of us also feel equally nervous about the prospect of meeting a potential suitor in the flesh - especially after such a long break.

According to a survey or 1,095 respondents conducted by dating app Badoo, 77 per cent of us are currently dating online are feeling anxious about out first IRL meet-up. Meanwhile, 78 per cent have admitted lockdown has caused us to forget how to date in person.

So as far as your pre-date nerves go, you're definitely not alone.

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Are you ready to say goodbye to virtual dating yet? (Credit: PA)
Are you ready to say goodbye to virtual dating yet? (Credit: PA)

Amber, 23, is just one of the women feeling apprehension about re-entering the dating game. She tells Tyla: "Although I'm screaming that I cannot wait for the streets to open so I can be back out there getting my saying on there's a part of me that's like - what do we talk about? Can I be bothered? Do I even want to meet anyone?

"It's so bizarre because just before the pandemic I recently become single and just started dating again and was loving life... finally found my confidence. But now I feel like I'm back to square one and will have to find that confidence boost to get back out there".

Meanwhile, 29 year old *Rochelle has never liked dating, but says the feeling has only been exacerbated by her extended time alone.

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"I never enjoyed dating much pre-pandemic, the idea of talking to multiple people and swiping on apps made me itch," she admits. "I then found myself going through a break-up in a pandemic and all my friends said dating again would be the answer.

"I told myself I wanted to be a good citizen and only date when it was legal to go outdoors and now that's about to happen I feel sick, very sick.

The lockdown roadmap easing means outdoor dates are soon on the cards (Credit: Unsplash)
The lockdown roadmap easing means outdoor dates are soon on the cards (Credit: Unsplash)

"It's been so long since I've been in a social setting, let alone a date! What are the rules again? How does flirting happen again? I can't even remember what it's like to embrace an attractive person?

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"Safe to say I'm scared to get back out there again. I'd rather just skip any dating process and just get married to best candidate."

Speaking to Tyla, dating coach and matchmaker, Sarah Louise Ryan, says these concerns are all too common among her clients, too.

"With recent time lost on the dating scene, many singles have fears and anxieties," she says. "The year of being socially and physically distanced, especially on the dating scene, means that there are also worries coming up for singles that couldn't have been foreseen."

One key issue she sees is that singletons are feeling "'they have lost their touch when it comes to flirting'", while many are also "not sure when the right time to be intimate is", due to fear of catching the virus, or transmitting it to others.

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"Some are feeling that they are frustrated with the amount of dating time lost and the other side of this same coin is a feeling of pressure for the next person they date to be the last or most significant person," she adds.

"One thing so many have learnt is that time and humanity is precious and there are many who are done with wasting time with the wrong kinds of people. So that comes with a certain pressure to get the romantic dating journey 'right'".

Meeting IRL is daunting after a year away from dating (Credit: Pexels)
Meeting IRL is daunting after a year away from dating (Credit: Pexels)

Of course, most of these concerns aren't new, but Sarah explains the pandemic has essentially taken the "usual anxieties that show their ugly faces in modern dating" and "heightened" them.

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After all, we've spent a year avoiding physical contact with anyone at all, being told that sex is illegal and mingling only in very small social circles. When it comes to flirting with a stranger in a pub garden, it's only fair to be a little daunted.

On top of all this, there's the fact that many of us have got rather used to digital dating now. With lockdown restrictions in place, there's no pressure when it comes to getting physical, you can use it as a screening process before wasting time, energy and money on an actual date, and you can wear PJ bottoms without any risk of your date seeing.

Laura Wilkinson-Rea, a spokesperson from Tinder, tells us: "In the past year the pandemic has shifted the way we date. People have been digitally dating first as a way of getting to know their match before they can physically meet up."

She adds: "Those who tried video dating see it as a low pressure way to get a sense for someone. 40 per cent of Gen Z Tinder members say they will continue to go on digital dates, even as "normal dating" returns. We anticipate that virtual dating is here to stay."

Online dating offered us a comfort blanket without all the pressure (Credit: Shutterstock)
Online dating offered us a comfort blanket without all the pressure (Credit: Shutterstock)

Beyond this, even lockdown walks in the park have been cushioned from the normal pressures associated with dating - be it thanks to social distancing measures or the eradication of situations that used to fill some women with fear, like formal dinners and meeting each other's friends.

It's safe to say that things have changed a lot in the last 12 months.

Acknowledging this could be an anxiety trigger for many, fellow dating coach Hayley Quinn tells singletons that it's important to remember to date at their own pace, and not bow to the pressure of the world opening up again.

"Remember there's no need to jump back in: if you want to keep up the video dates, or park walks, rather than rush out to an alfresco dinner with someone, then you are allowed to take things at your own pace," she says.

"Also don't put pressure on yourself to make up for lost time, first dates really are just an opportunity to have fun."

Hayley adds: "Don't make it about finding The One, make it about learning new things, meeting new people and taking things at a pace that makes you feel comfortable."

Just remember, nobody has ever dealt with a year long national lockdown before. There's no right way to behave or feel as we come out of the other side.

Single ladies, we're all in this together!

*Some names have been changed at the request of the interviewee.

Featured Image Credit: Pexels

Joanna Freedman
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