Nearly everyone knows of or has participated in the surge in online dating during the early peaks of the pandemic. Locked down in their homes and cities, the world's daters took to video chat services like ducks to water, congesting global bandwidths with sweet nothings whispered into multimedia microphones and AirPods the world over. Now, experts are saying that this flood of online dating could eventually lead to more serious relationships once the pandemic dies down.
Of course, that could be as far away as a year from now by the looks of it, but they say that it might almost be inevitable. Regardless, it's always better to be prepared if you think you're going to go through such a transition. Therefore, let's look at some of the transitional aspects of moving from online dating
to physical dating because they're as far apart as two things can be. Yes, there are some similarities, no doubt, but the differences are far too glaring to ignore. It's better to equip yourself with the information you need to make the shift in as disruptive a manner as possible.
Online Dating vs. Physical Dating
So, what are these key differences between online dating and in-the-flesh dating?
#1 - Making a good first impression
If there's one thing we can all agree on, it's that the first date is very important as far as first impressions are concerned. But the degree of it vastly differs between in-person dating and the online version. There are certain things that might be critical to physical dating that don't really matter when it comes to the online equivalent - such as whether you brushed your teeth or if you're wearing pants!
Of course, we recommend you do both these things - if only to feel more confident about yourself on that first date. However, because of the fact that you're only going to see that person's face and maybe a little of their upper body, it's much easier to make a good first impression when you're meeting online.
#2 - Preparing for the date
Building further on that first point, traditional dating also brings a lot of ritualistic obligations with it - the showering, the BO self-test, the flossing, the preening, the grooming, the breath test, the BO test again with a (really) close friend, and so on and so forth. That can take up a lot of time but it's obviously critical to whether or not you'll ever see her again!
Be ready to spend a considerable amount of time preparing for your first date if you're meeting in person. It might only take you a half-hour to get ready for an online date. Real dates take a lot longer to prep for.
The preparatory steps we're referring to in this section are merely the physical side. Your appearance, the way you carry yourself, the clothes you wear, the deodorant you use (easy with the cologne, champ!)... these represent the physical side of things. But there's another side to getting ready for a date.
#3 - The practical side
The logistics of a physical date are completely different from those of an online date. For the online experience, there's very little in the way of planning, such as setting up your phone or laptop in a spot with good Wi-Fi reception, some ambient lighting, maybe a little background music, etc.
Real dating takes a lot more effort. Unless you're going to wing it (which is always a bad idea, by the way), you need to be ready with a budget, a restaurant, maybe an activity thrown in, plans for how you'll meet up (are you picking her up, are you meeting there, etc.) and how you'll take her home, and such details.
Plan well ahead of the date. Make reservations if you need to. If you're going to be drinking, be sure to have the Uber app installed on your phone. If you're both under 18 and need a chaperone, check with your parents or legal guardians regarding their schedule and so on. Make sure you have more than enough cash to cover all foreseeable expenses. You may want to carry a little extra in case you walk past a florist and want to be spontaneous - things like that.
#4 - The hard question
Are you going to kiss her on your very first physical date? Whether you've been dating her online for a while or this is the first meeting, it'll be on both your minds so get it out of the way. Don't be nervous; just be ready to have it go either way. There's no rule that says the first date has to end with a kiss. Get a sense of it during the date itself. If you really like her and you think she feels the same way, it'll seem right when the time comes.
A lot of couples are nervous on their first date because of the dreaded first date kiss. Don't let it affect your ability to have fun during the date. Let that apprehension be a natural sensual tension that lasts through the evening.
#5 - The harder question
Should you go on a second date? That's usually the hardest question of all. On the one hand, it depends on how well the first date goes; on the other, even a disastrous first date can lead to a long-term relationship if you give it another chance.
So, what do you do? How do you decide?
The best way to figure this out is to see if the two of you have at least a few things in common. Did you grow up in the same city, do you have similar backgrounds, are both of you very family-oriented, and so on. Essentially, that's what you'll be discovering on your first date. Other things include your ability to entertain each other through conversation and whether or not you can make each other laugh.
The thing is, don't worry even if it isn't all smooth sailing on the first date. That perfect first date is a rare and precious thing that all of us aren't lucky enough to get all the time. If it happens, great - then you don't have that question hanging over your head about whether to ask her out again. But if it doesn't, don't beat yourself up about it. Go with the flow.
As a matter of fact, the best way to assess the situation is to be open about it. If you enjoyed the first date, tell her! If she reciprocates, it's very likely she's up for round two. Try and read her body language when you ask her. If she merely acknowledges your statement but doesn't seem willing to return the sentiment, let it go. If you really like her, you can always call her later on for that second date. Don't rush it.
The most important thing is to be willing to accept that things could go either way. Relationships are very delicate things that need to be handled with care. There's no straight line from the first meeting to a long-term relationship or even marriage. Take it one step at a time and do your part to make sure the relationship works. Sometimes, we focus on the other person's actions and words so much that we forget that we're one half of the equation.
Now that you've successfully transitioned from online dating to in-the-flesh dating, how do you take this to the next step? That's assuming both of you want to, of course. If you do, then there are certain things that will be of immense value once you get started on a more serious relationship. This could be the two of you continuing the relationship on a long-distance basis (LDR) or in a geographically close relationship (GCR.) The dynamics might be different but the core principles are still the same no matter what type of long-term relationship you're getting into.
The Five Senses of a Mature Relationship
To understand these principles, we must travel to the future and see what your relationship should ideally look like five or ten years from now. And the best way to explain the mechanics of a mature relationship is to break it down into several components. We call these the five senses of a mature relationship. They're not the traditional five senses that involve the body's sense organs; rather, they're more like sensibilities we need to develop and nurture in order to create a rich and meaningful relationship. They evolve over time but they don't happen on their own. They are the result of effort and awareness on the part of both partners in a relationship. And they are as follows:
A Sense of Individuality
In any strong relationship, there is a sense of individuality shared between the two people involved. This might seem contradictory to the 'two bodies, one mind' notion that many of us have been exposed to; in reality, it is not. It is only when both partners have a good self-image and a strong sense of self can there be a melding of the minds.
If not, it's basically one mind overcoming and the other succumbing. After all, isn't that what we see quite often in many marriages that have lasted decades? Imagine one couple where the wife does all the talking and the husband is all "yes, dear" all the time. Where's his individuality in that equation? Now imagine another mature couple who allow each other to voice their thoughts and opinions, rarely interrupting each other, and actually listening when the other is speaking.
Which of these couples is truly one unit? Which of these exude a sense of individuality? The second couple, right? That's what this sense can bring to a relationship. As we said before, it's not just an evolutionary phenomenon that happens on its own. You have to allow the other's individuality to bloom, even as they encourage your own sense of self to come to its own.
That said, always remember that individuality is expressed in many different ways, not just vocally. Someone might be strong-minded but doesn't talk much. That's okay. Just let their individuality come out how it will. Just water it - don't Bonsai it!
A Sense of Respect
Along with a sense of individuality, couples in a long-term relationship will also exhibit a strong sense of respect whether they're with each other or alone. This is more of an active component than the sense of individuality because it basically has to come from the other person.
Is your better half getting the respect he deserves from you? Do you get it from him? This respect comes in many forms but has the same sentiment at its core. It can be in the form of letting the other person speak their mind or letting them shape your own opinion about something because you respect theirs. It could come in the form of trusting them without knowing the outcome. It can even be as simple as acknowledging their presence when they walk into the room you're in - or saying 'Good Morning' every day despite having done it over 3,000 times!
These are all signs of respect, and that sense of respect is crucial to the success of any relationship - if you want it to last. Unfortunately, too many couples start taking each other for granted as they get more familiar with each other's habits and idiosyncracies. They stop acknowledging each other's presence, they don't say 'Thank You' and 'Sorry' as often as they should, etc.
Taking the other person for granted is the exact opposite of what you want to be doing to nurture this sense, so keep that in mind at all times.
A Sense of Space
This, too, is closely related to the sense of individuality but with some important differences. For example, you being comfortable with your partner's absence when she's out with her friends is essentially you giving her a sense of space. In one respect, you're allowing her to express her individuality, true; but the subtle difference is that getting a sense of space can only happen in the absence of the other person, while the sense of individuality is typically expressed in their presence.
There's also the aspect of mentally giving someone space when they want to be alone with their thoughts. Leave it to them to share those thoughts with you - don't intrude on them. They'll eventually share their inner thoughts with you if they need your input or just need you to listen. When that happens, don't try to solve the problem. Just listen. That's the sense of space in its essence.
Another meaning of a sense of space is the emotion or spiritual space you can give them when they need it most. When your partner is overwhelmed, allow them to get away for the weekend and unwind at a spa or even at their parents' home. Don't take it personally. They're not trying to get away from you but the overload of sensory inputs they're experiencing at that point in time. It could be pressure at work or familial obligations that have brought them to this point. Be supportive but give them the space to work it out.
A Sense of Loyalty
Does your partner always have the confidence that you have their back? That you're going to stick with them through thick and thin - poverty and prosperity - sickness and health? Are they afraid you'll leave them if they become fat or old or whatever?
There's a reason why this sounds like marriage vows: because it is! Marriage is supposed to be forever, which is why those vows were written that way - as a reminder that you don't pick up and run when the going gets tough. Unfortunately, much of today's society thinks of marriage much like a new car that can be traded in for a better model when one comes along.
Call us conventional and stuffy, but we believe that any serious relationship, including marriage, needs to have that unbreakable bond between the two people involved. Let's be clear about this. We're not referring to destructive or abusive relationships or marriages because that's a clear case of one person abusing their rights as a partner. If you're leaving someone like that, go ahead and do it quickly. We're talking about marriages where little molehill problems creep up and are made into mountains for no reason.
A sense of loyalty also means knowing that your partner has your back in a tight situation, not just that they'll stand by your side. They have to be an active participant in defending you, and you, them. You need to put your own safety and well-being on the line to protect theirs. This is an active sense, not a passive one.
Finally, loyalty also means you're there to share the good things in their life. If she lands a great new job and you have to give up your not-so-great career to stay home and look after the kids, you need to step up and man up. It doesn't matter who brings home the bacon. Don't let your male ego overtake this sense of loyalty. That comes above all else.
A Sense of Oneness
This is the ultimate sense in any relationship. But watch out: It can occur in flashes early on in the relationship, making it seem like the person is your soulmate
. Some couples even tend to take this as a sign and jump ahead to marriage, only to jump out again when they find that the other pieces of the puzzle aren't falling into place. That's why this feeling should essentially grow larger as you go through the other stages of development - it takes that much time to mature and come to fruition.
Unlike the other senses, this one is more intangible. It's more of a feeling evidenced by certain occurrences - not something you can really put a finger on. And it can happen anywhere. For instance, you may get this feeling of oneness when you're sitting together silently watching a sunset. You might also get the same feeling at a loud party or a dinner in a noisy restaurant - the feeling that you were meant to be together. There's nothing like a roomful of strangers to bring you closer to each other!
One important aspect of this sense of oneness is that it can also be actively given. How? By focusing your attention and mentally entering their space despite myriad distractions in the background and in your head. Paying attention to each other is possibly the most effective way to say, "I'm all here and it's all for you."
Another thing about this sense of oneness or unity is that can only be achieved after you've developed the other four senses. It is the final level of maturity in any relationship. You begin thinking as one, yet you maintain your individuality; you have tremendous respect for each other; you know when the other person needs their space and when they need your companionship; you're keenly aware of their sense of loyalty and willing to offer yours; these things must be in place before you can truly feel that sense of oneness.
From Online Dating to Serious Relationships - Will We Really See a Spike after the Pandemic?
If you know a little bit about post-World-War-II history in the United States, you've probably heard of the "Baby Boom" that added no less than 4.24 million babies to the population every year between 1946 and 1964. These Baby Boomers, as they're known, were born in an era of plenty, when Americans had the confidence to raise lots of kids after a long period of sparsity. They came back from WWII on aching feet, war-weary and ready to settle down. The economic landscape was promising - solid jobs, affordable homes, and great prospects for raising children. And they did it by the millions.
The pandemic won't last nearly as long, fingers crossed, but the pent-up physical and mental emotions of the entire world - especially the younger generation - could lead to a similar spike in long-term relationships once we achieve a modicum of normalcy. While this might not necessarily lead to an immediate rise in babies being born, it could certainly give rise to an unusual number of people entering long-term relationships and even marriage. And then the babies will come! So, what do we call that generation? Post-Pandemic Pfizer-Powered Pant Poopers, perhaps?
But jokes apart, what experts are saying could eventually lead to a surge in serious relationships is something we need to recognize and prepare for; hence, this article. The information here will help you navigate the terrain of a long-haul relationship, hopefully helping prevent en-masse break-ups once people realize that real relationships aren't a bed of roses. They're not at all like a quick zoom call and a virtual night out. It takes hard work to build a healthy relationship. Being aware of this will put you ahead of the pack when people start struggling with the realities of a long-term relationship as opposed to the convenience of online dating.
A Final Word
The key to a good relationship is participation from both sides. One-sided relationships hardly ever work - and even when they do, it's one person pulling the cart while the other sits on it or pulls in the opposite direction. Eventually, that sort of relationship is bound to come to a head, and most likely an unpleasant one at that.
Another key piece of the puzzle is effort, not merely participation. An active effort is required from both people if you want to create a truly healthy relationship. It doesn't always come easy. It's a work in progress for the most part. The real milestones are the ones you barely even see whizzing past as you focus on the future. You'll only know them by the evidence they produce; the awareness that things are changing, evolving, getting better over time.
The real secret ingredient in any relationship is a double-dose of willingness to keep working at it - one generous dollop from each partner. That's the only way. Nobody has a solid relationship that simply falls into their laps. Nobody. Any couple you see that are happier the longer they're together is a couple that's bent over backward to make things work. They've put in the miles and reaped the smiles. They've roughed it out and toughed it out, simply because they thought it was worth sticking together.
If you want to move from online dating into a real relationship, that's what you need to be willing to do. Are you ready to make sacrifices and work as a team? Are you willing to accept that you do not equal at all times - that you each take turns to play the lead role in the band while the other one sometimes has to be in the background and "play the tambourine," as Chris Rock says? Can you do that for each other? Can you be each other's most trusted confidantes? Can you cut through the crap that an envious world will inevitably throw at you - even your own relatives and friends? Do you have the resilience to withstand the initial turbulence as you slowly gain an understanding of each other's behavioral habits and peculiarities? Are you willing to look past things that irritate you but are really minor in the larger scheme of things? Or will you put in your papers as soon as you discover that he always squeezes the toothpaste tube from the top?
Our purpose here is not to scare the bejeezus out of you. It is simply to prepare you for something you might not even be aware of. Think of it as an orientation session with more than a pinch of truth to it. If, after you've read this piece at least a couple of times, you have decided to go ahead and try to make something out of that online dating experience with someone who you think is special, then go for it. You have a deeper understanding of what it takes to make a long-term relationship work. And you have our warmest and most sincere blessings and best wishes for the future! Go out and build yourself a beautiful relationship with someone equally special, because it will be the greatest legacy you can leave behind on this planet.