Dear Matchmaker: Dating in the time of social distancing

The matchmaker responds: I have received so many messages lately about closures and social distancing and/or from the individuals I set up, who are scared and lost in this time.

As a masked woman looks on, Roni Ben-Ari and Yonatan Meushar celebrate their wedding at Ein Hemed, which is offering free, small-scale weddings for young couples due to restrictions imposed by the government to fight coronavirus on March 18 (photo credit: REUTERS)
As a masked woman looks on, Roni Ben-Ari and Yonatan Meushar celebrate their wedding at Ein Hemed, which is offering free, small-scale weddings for young couples due to restrictions imposed by the government to fight coronavirus on March 18
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Navigating the dating world can be exciting, but it can also be frustrating and confusing. Who can I turn to with my questions? How do I handle different situations? How can I put my best foot forward? There are so many questions. We hope to be able to help you with the answers and provide guidance on how to navigate situations that confuse you.
We welcome you to submit your questions about dating, online profiles, dating etiquette, relationships and more. Real matchmakers will answer your questions, providing their perspectives (which may sometimes differ greatly) on the dating process.
This week, in our first column, we want to start with a topic that is very timely and different from anything any of us has encountered before. In upcoming columns, we will have additional special posts on this topic, in addition to answering questions on more standard dating scenarios.
Please send us your questions... and may we merit to help you. Write to matchmakerquestions@gmail.com.
Dear Matchmaker,
What do I do now…
The matchmaker responds: I have received so many messages lately about closures and social distancing and/or from the individuals I set up, who are scared and lost in this time.
I know it is those people who are dating who are hurting the most. I have gotten every single one of these questions in the last few days:
• When will I date again? And how will I date? Is anyone dating now?
• Is it worth trying to start something over the phone or FaceTime?
• How many months will this set me back?
• I am dating someone but it’s new, will I lose him as things might fizzle out if we can’t see each other?
• Why is it when I finally like a girl and she likes me back and is normal, there’s coronavirus?
• We are in a long-distance relationship and can’t fly right now, but we had a fight the last time we were together, how can I smooth things over via the  phone or FaceTime?

Yet, with all these fears, everyone seems to have renewed passion and determination to keep dating and not let the current climate take away the basic need for love and companionship, especially when they need it the most.
Now, as we all move from denial to acceptance, as the initial shock wears off and the new norms of how we will live our lives for the next several weeks or months settles in, those dating must also rewrite their stories.
As a shadchan, in the last week, my phone seems to be ringing just as much as before, but with a slightly different urgency now.
I have set up many dates planned with no expectation of an in-person meeting anytime soon, but phone and FaceTime/Skype date.
I have reports of countless individuals creating and reactivating their online dating profiles and downloading apps for the first time or redownloading those they had deleted. They miss human company with their offices and shuls closed and all social events canceled, craving someone to talk to. And for once, those dating apps where people would receive no responses are getting responses and phone numbers exchanged and phone calls taking place.
Additionally, as a dating coach, I am going from call waiting to call waiting with questions of how to use this time to better prepare for when dating goes back to normal, such as:
• How to clean up one’s social media, purging Facebook and Instagram of photos that no longer reflect who they are and writing new and improved dating profiles.
• What should I talk about over text with a new prospect, what should we discuss on a phone date?
• How exactly does a first date over FaceTime work, how long should it be, what should I wear?
• How many hours should we speak on the phone a week, knowing we may not meet each other in person for weeks or months?
• Should we be exclusive?

Now, no matter who we are or what our stage in life, everyone is taking a step back from their hectic daily lives and reflecting on what really matters, core values; all externalities and superficialities are being set aside. The standards set by social media, Instagram influencers, etc., no longer seem quite as much the rule as they may have only a few short days ago. Health and family suddenly seem so much more important than it did just last week.
We the Jewish people have persisted through so much in history and no matter what, have always found a way to rise up and continue to grow our Jewish families and to multiply. I daven for Hashem to continue to give me and all other Jewish matchmakers – and the individuals dating – the strength to persist in these scary times; despite being “socially distanced,” to help everyone find their perfect match today so that they too may wake up to see a name pop-up on their phone that brings a smile to their eyes.
May God bring an end to this virus immediately, for all of us.
Love,
Lori

The writer has her own dating coaching business (www.lorisalkin.com) providing dating coaching geared to the needs of traditional-to-Orthodox clients and helps clients create online dating profiles. She has been a volunteer as a matchmaker on SawYouAtSinai.com for 12 years and maintains a dating advice blog “The Matchmaker Diaries.” Follow @SawYouAtSinai on Instagram for Q&A with Lori on all things dating.



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