Skip to content

The dos and don’ts of dating in a post-pandemic, technological world

Not only has the pandemic caused a shift in how we relate to each other, but it’s also disrupted the dating scene. Life and relationship coach Leah Sefor says people have resorted to messaging and video dates due to social distancing, so they haven’t met face-to-face.

“We had no other option during Covid-19 than to use dating apps. But although it’s better than messaging, Zoom can’t tell you whether you have genuine chemistry and a connection.”

Online conversations only take you so far because the honeymoon phase involves physical intimacy.

Would you say there are new rules of engagement post-Covid-19?

Leah Sefor: Now, people are entering the dating scene with a strange mix of excitement and trepidation. Everyone’s carrying some form of trauma, loss or grief from this pandemic, so they’re more sensitive to and nervous about forming an attachment to someone anew.

They might take longer to get to know someone first, build trust and feel safe enough to surrender themselves to a new partner. Some want to leap first without waiting, realising time is precious because you never know how much of it you have left. Be clear with your date about how fast or slow you want the relationship to move so they know where they stand

What trends are emerging?

Some people are happy to stay single, realising they’re self-su cient and resilient without a partner – good old fashioned getting-to-know-you-fi rst dating. Putting mental and emotional connections first has become vital for many people. Open relationships and polyamory are also popular because people want to explore, have choices and experience different versions of themselves with di erent people – no more rules. As the world embraces gender fl uidity and dismantles traditions, individuals feel free to explore what works for them without labelling it as straight, gay, bi, committed, open, monogamous, poly or anything else. Let it take you where it leads you.

How do you find love in the age of technology?

Be open to meeting new people, even if you’re nervous. They’re scared too. And like you, they want to connect. We’re all in the space, looking for the same thing. Be authentic and transparent about who you are and what you want. Post up-to-date photographs of yourself to avoid misleading potential partners. And be specifi c in your bio about what you’re looking for, so there’s no confusion. Join online group courses to meet new people, Facebook groups that discuss issues you’re passionate about and who knows you might fi nd a like-minded date. Start a YouTube channel or podcast to invite people into your mindset and worldview – many of my clients have connected with their current partners through social media.

How do you help people navigate relationships?

Talking with your partner is vital. I’m an interpreter of sorts. I teach people to understand communication systems are different. If you don’t operate from the same one as your partner, you might misinterpret one another, leading to arguments. I wrote about that in my latest book, That’s Not What I Meant! (R299, loot. I help my clients learn their partner’s ‘language’, so they can listen and speak with more clarity. When you’re on the same page as your partner and can communicate honestly about everything, you can resolve most issues. As a coach, I offer practical advice, exercises, tools and techniques to the couples I work with on how to shift their thinking, words and behaviour within their relationship to feel heard, seen and valued.

Do you think it’s harder to find love because people have more options, or does technology make it easier to sift through what we do and don’t like when we’re searching for ‘the one’?

I think people have unrealistically high expectations when looking for love. Their list is too long. They have too many demands. Remember, you’re not buying an iPhone; you’re looking for a connection with another human being, so be willing to allow a flow and consider people you wouldn’t usually go for. As aforementioned, technology only gets you so far. You only know if it’s real when you spend face-to-face time with your date. If you scroll through your options too quickly, you might overlook your soulmate because of a small thing they’ve written in their bio that you don’t like. It’s easy to let great people slip through the cracks when you perpetually swipe left.

Dating shows are also on the rise. What do you think that speaks to?

Every couple I’ve worked with has asked me what’s ‘normal’? Even though there’s no such thing, people love watching dating shows so they can compare their relationship to those they see on TV. It’s interesting to see how other people behave on dates and in relationships – they offer different perspectives or reinforce beliefs and ethics. Viewers might say, I’d never do that! Often what happens on screen can seem so unusual or shocking that viewers feel relieved they have such a ‘normal’ relationship in comparison. Social media has made us watchers given personal glimpses into other people’s lives. That’s why reality TV is so big: we’re fascinated by how others live. But you only see what happens on that one-hour show, not what happens o† -camera. TV shows are all about the shock factor. It’s good for ratings.

How does someone who still believes in being with one person navigate a world where dating more than one partner is normalised?

Oh, monogamy is still a thing. After this pandemic, we want to feel safe and have stability and predictability in our lives, which comes with monogamous relationships. I don’t see monogamous couples worrying about what other people are doing. Those in committed relationships don’t think they’re missing out at all. Be honest about what you’re looking for when you’re dating. Your partner needs to know you expect to be exclusive. Not everyone’s interested in open relationships.

What challenges do singles face?

There’s a lot of toxic behaviour out there that people excuse early in dating because they don’t know their date yet. They might keep giving them second chances. Being open and giving strangers you’ve just met the benefit of the doubt might help you meet more people, but it might also blind you to unhealthy red flags – think The Tinder Swindler. Those women only saw what they wanted to see of Simon, the dating app-based swindler, ignoring their gut feelings. A golden rule: if something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

What’s your advice to single ladies looking for love in 2022?

Know who you are and what you stand for. Have clear boundaries and be comfortable with saying no. Be willing to explore on all levels, but stay safe. Don’t open up too fast. Take your time and create a space of trust before giving yourself entirely to another person. If you haven’t recovered from a previous relationship and carrying wounds or grudges, then you shouldn’t be dating. Work with a therapist fi rst to heal before you move on. It’ll always be your responsibility to teach others how to treat you; people aren’t mind- “If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Think The Tinder Swindler” readers, so you need to tell them what you want, but address unacceptable behaviour as soon as it happens.

THEO MALHERBE, Director of The Only Social Club

How do you help people find love?

Theo Malherbe: As matchmakers at The Only Social Club, we ask our clients relevant questions to help them find a compatible mate. We guide them and find an appropriate match.

How does The Only Social Club compare with other dating platforms?

We screen all candidates to ensure a safe experience. There’s also a criterion for our clients. For example, we only accept working professionals looking for a committed relationship.

What else do you consider?

We encourage individuals to work on being the best version of themselves. It’s great to list the qualities you want in a partner, but are you working on your own? That influences your outcome.

Are there new rules of engagement on the modern dating scene?

That depends on the individual because we all have different values. Honesty and transparency are important to us at The Only Social Club, so we like to work with clients who align with those. The world might be changing, but your values don’t have to. Online dating makes it too easy for people to have mutliple partners, without knowing if they are who they say they are. We believe in an authentic connection you can only experience in person.

What’s exclusive dating?

It’s not like fast-food dating. Most people looking for love on dating sites are seeking instant gratifi cation. The process is quick but doesn’t always yield the best results. We devote one-on-one time to our clients to understand their needs, and we guarantee confi dentiality, discretion and integrity.

What extra measures can you put in place to ensure safety?

Be honest about your intentions, and vigilant. And take your time. There’s no need to rush into anything.

How much do your services cost?

It depends on our clients’ needs, which we discuss during their initial consultation. Are they looking for professional, executive, exclusive or corporate dating services?

What’s your advice for successfully finding love in 2022?

Stay true to your values and who you are. Be upfront about your story, and own your imperfections and struggles. Don’t be quick to dismiss people, as it often takes more than one date. That’s unless you’re feeling unsafe or are 100% sure there’s no potential to take things further. Work on being the best version of yourself to attract a quality mate. Being honest about your boundaries and expectations helps you get the most out of your experience.

This article originally appeared in our June 2022 Disruptors Issue. Grab your digital copy here.

Share this article: