By George Arkley 

Hayley Quinn

Hayley Quinn

Lockdown restrictions are lifting, the pubs are reopening, and our dating lives are in for one hell of an awakening. After a year at home, singletons across the UK have mastered the Zoom date, and whatever ‘flu-merang’ means. Dating in the pandemic, otherwise known as ‘pan-dating’, has been challenging and somewhat lonely for many singletons.

Fortunately, pub gardens in the UK reopened on the 12th of April and made way for an entirely new dating scene – and a freezing one, at that. Match’s dating expert, Hayley Quinn, shared her advice on navigating the new dating climate. It turns out, 25% of Brits are looking forward to the pubs opening so they can get back to dating. But let’s be honest, we could all do with some dating tips after a year in social isolation…

Of course, the dating scene also has a ‘new normal.’

The dating scene you remember is long gone. In fact, nearly a third of singletons have enjoyed a more extended courtship period during lockdown. Say goodbye to meeting people at 2am in the club, and hello to Bridgerton-style courtship. Only kidding – the dating scene hasn’t changed that much.

Hayley says: “COVID has made us have much more honest conversations in our dating lives.”

Pre-COVID, many of us would have squirmed at the thought of discussing commitment with our potential partner. Is there anything more awkward than the exclusive conversation? I think not.

Now, Hayley says we are having more intimate and authentic conversations earlier on. So, the courtship period has extended; we are forming deeper bonds with our potential partners and, in some cases, building commitment with that person.

On the other hand, many people feel anxious about socialising, dating and getting back out there.

Let’s talk pre-date nerves.

Pre-dating anxiety is often a mixture of excitement, nerves and fear. Hayley argues, “confidence a lot of the time is competence.”

However, finding inner confidence before a date is a lot harder than it sounds. Perhaps, you’re worried you won’t find a connection with your date, or they will judge you, or you will struggle to find something to talk about. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to reduce your pre-date nerves and find your inner Queen.

First up, Hayley recommends changing your intention for the date. Instead of piling on the pressure to find your soulmate, just try to have fun. Enjoy your favourite drink, engage in conversation and relax. Try to focus on compatibility when making conversation – pick a few topics and see if they have similar interests to you.

Second, plan for the date by allowing enough time to get to the venue and picking your outfit ahead of time. Try to avoid feeling flustered and take a minute to breathe.

Whether you are single or not, socialising is a strange activity at the moment. We have been isolated for over a year, and it’s likely your social skills are a little lacking. Try hanging out with your friends in person before heading on a date so you can get used to the social thing again.

Zoomancing is not behind us.

Zoom dates started out as a temporary solution to the pandemic. After a few months, many of us found comfort in sitting on our couch dressed in sweatpants and a nice top. Well – zoomancing does not have to end just because the pubs are reopening. 18% of people actually intend to carry on Zoom dating after the pandemic.

Hayley says, “People still want to keep up that steppingstone video date beforehand.”

Maybe Zoom dates are your safe place – you can talk to a potential partner without worrying about getting to the venue and fitting into your pre-lockdown jeans. Hayley recommends trying a few Zoom dates before meeting your date in person.

The dating trends in the pandemic were different, but they could still be helpful in our transition into the ‘new normal.’

The first date went well, now what?

So you had your first date on either Zoom or in a pub garden, and it went well. Congratulations! Now, for the second date…

Hayley says activity dates are a brilliant way to ‘depressurise’ the situation. Keep the date fun, informal and active, so you have something to talk about. You could do a yoga class together, take a walk, or go mini golfing.

The dating world is back in action, along with a whole new set of dating rules. Take your time and only date when you feel ready.

RELATED: Pandating, mask-fishing and quaranteams: A definitive guide to dating in a pandemic

Nothing screams romance like the stench of hand sanitiser and Boris Johnson droning on in the background of your Zoom date. Then again, ‘date’ seems like a strong word for a buffering video call with a stranger in joggers and a nice top. In fact, many of the usual dating terms don’t quite fit these #unprecentedtimes...

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