The Mandatory Hot Vax Summer Dating Guide to Overcoming FODA (And WTF That Even Is)
It’s been a long, long time since we had to put ourselves out there. And by “out there,” we mean on the dating market. But Hot Vax Summer is upon us and our libidos are back in full swing. Before we reactivate our dating app profiles, we’ve got a few pounds to lose, some facial hair to get rid of, and a major fear to overcome: FODA.
First things first: WTF is FODA? It means Fear of Dating Again. The term comes from Logan Ury, director of relationship science for Hinge, a dating app that reports 51 percent of its users claim to be experiencing FODA. “Dating is always anxiety-provoking, plus dating in the middle of a pandemic? It’s not surprising that it’s been a really trying time for people,” Ury told TMRW.
But we’ve had enough of hiding out in our apartments, eating bad pizza, and watching even worse television. We’re single and it’s time to mingle again. While we can’t help you with the weight loss and grooming issues, we can help ease your anxiety about doing the dating-and-mating dance again. Read on for our tips on conquering FODA and getting back into rotation.
Cover Photo: Deagreez (Getty Images)
Safe is sexy: The Mandatory Guide to Dating in the Age of Coronavirus
Be clear and upfront about your Covid vaccination status and your precaution comfort level.
Two of the main sources of stress surrounding dating post-pandemic is the lingering fear of getting Covid. Even if you’re fully vaccinated, there’s still a risk of breakthrough infections. And even though the CDC says masks are now optional for vaccinated people indoors or out, you might still feel more comfortable wearing one anyway.
Communicate both your vaccination status and your comfort level around other Covid issues like eating indoors, sharing food, and wearing masks ahead of time so you don’t have any nerve-wracking “Are they going to think I’m a freak for wearing a mask?” thoughts on the date.
Create a pre-date routine.
Whatever gets you into a calm, collected headspace, do that before every date. It might be working out, meditating, playing video games, or walking your dog. (Or having a pre-game cocktail. We won’t tell.) If it eases your anxiety, try to keep the details of first dates as similar as you can. Schedule your dates at the same venue (or limit your options to a few venues) so that you eliminate the anxiety around navigating new spaces. Pick the best day and time for your dates (like lunch on Saturday) so you don’t feel frazzled. Create a “first date outfit” and stick to it so that you don’t have last-minute wardrobe stress. Give yourself plenty of time to arrive to the date so you don’t feel rushed. The more you can automate everything leading up to the date, the more relaxed you’ll be when you’re actually on the date.
Take it slow.
First-date sex is probably not on the menu for many of us anymore. In fact, even face-to-face first dates won’t feel safe for some people. (Bumble reports almost half of its users prefer virtual first dates.) If you’d rather do the initial one-on-one remotely, let your date know. (Bonus: if you don’t click, at least you didn’t waste money on drinks and dinner.) Once you are meeting up in person, definitely make sure you ask for consent before a first hug, kiss, hand-holding, or any other kind of close bodily contact.
Remember that it’s OK to be nervous.
Hey – we’ve all been out of rotation for a year-plus. Nobody is going to be Mr. or Miss Smooth on a first date right now. And that’s OK. You will likely feel nervous. Guess what? Your date probably does, too. That doesn’t mean you’re doomed. Go ahead and admit to your nervousness; you and your date can have an awkward laugh about it to break the ice.
Keep your desperation in check.
We’re all touch-hungry, horny monsters desperately seeking approval from an attractive person. But maybe don’t lead with that.
Not only is the weather perfect for outdoor dates right now, it’s still a safer bet than being stuck indoors in a club, bar, or restaurant. OKCupid reports that the majority of its users say their “ideal post-pandemic date is literally anything outdoors.” Try something new and fun – go hiking or canoeing, plan a picnic, or find an al fresco concert in a park. The sky’s the limit – and oh, is it beautiful to gaze at. Just being in nature should lower your dating anxiety.
Stay in the moment.
One of the consequences of the pandemic is daters are now more interested in long-term commitments than in temporary flings. In fact, OKCupid reports that 84 percent of its users are looking for a “steady partner.” That’s all well and good, but if you go into every date frantically looking for signs that this person is “the one” (and rejecting them if they don’t immediately appear to be so), you’re missing out on enjoying the company of the person who is right in front of you.
Let’s face it: love at first sight is bullshit. You can’t love someone deeply until you know them really well, and that takes time. Be open to whomever it is you’re on a date with and don’t jump to conclusions or assume you can tell everything about a person from just one (or even two or three) dates. If it’s meant to be, it will be. For now, just be present with your date and stop thinking 10 steps ahead.
Ghosting is so 2019. According to Bumble, almost 40 percent of its users have seen the disappear-without-a-word technique decline in their dating lives. When you know a match isn’t going to work, grow a pair and tell your date directly (but gently). Don’t just silently fade into the background and hope they forget about you.
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