Can you date in quarantine? Maybe. A few experts weighed in.
On Tuesday, May 5, the Forward hosted a virtual conversation on “Coupling in quarantine: distant dating and close cohabiting. ” Abby Sher, co-writer of the Forward’s Bintel Brief advice column, moderated a conversation including David Yarus, founder of JSwipe, the largest Jewish dating app; Rayna Greenberg, social influencer and podcast co-host of ‘Girls Gotta Eat’; Rabbi Richard Steinberg, couples therapist and senior rabbi at Congregation Shir Ha- Ma’alot; Lindsey Metselaar, founder of ‘We Met At Acme’, a podcast on millennial dating; and Jared Matthew Weiss, creator and host of ‘Touchpoint’, a global, virtual town hall about human connection.
Much of the conversation focused on big picture ideas and how to conceptualize this time. Jared and Lindsey talked about using this time to clarify desires, or reevaluate relationships — Lindsey pointed out we are also in Venus retrograde, a perfect time to reconsider romances in your life. It’s okay to break up with people during a pandemic if you realize things aren’t working.
But Rayna cautioned viewers not to jump to conclusions. “We’re all learning right now,” she pointed out; the unprecedented situation requires people to learn new modes of communication and vulnerability that may be challenging.
Rabbi Rick Steinberg gave several tips on managing new communication needs, such as saying “and” instead of “but” when bringing up problems, and asking for space from a partner without making it personal. He and his wife make date nights a priority, even with very limited date options, to keep their relationship special, like dressing up to take drives to scenic locales.
The conversation also turned to managing flirtation and forming new relationships via dating apps. David said that, in the past, he often urged people to have Facetime first dates before taking the time and effort to meet in person, but it never caught on. Now that it’s essential, he sees it as a way to better get to know the person without the usual pressures of first dates, such as when to make a move to kiss the other person or when to have sex. He also introduced the idea of dating with “no cherished outcome,” to avoid getting attached to an idea of a relationship before it’s clear what is really working. Rayna agreed that the reduced physical pressure wasn’t all bad, though she encouraged finding ways to keep a spark part of the conversation.
Jared added that many people feel pressure to “hurry the harvest” and get to relationship milestones quickly; the pandemic, however, is making people slow down and consider what they really want. However, after stay home orders are lifted, Lindsey thinks things will largely go back to the way they were — those who weren’t ready to settle down will still not be ready, no matter what grandiose ideas they had in isolation.
The millennials turned to Rabbi Steinberg several times for the Jewish lens. “What’s the Jewish take on sexting?” asked David. Unfortunately, Rabbi Rick said the Talmudic rabbis didn’t really cover it.