By: Ebony Taylor
Valentine’s Day is approaching once again. For starters, there is a lot of conversation around this holiday being extremely heteronormative. Simply put, there are a lot of stressors put on being relationships and what that should look like. Though we have come a long way with recognizing and accepting other’s perception of “relationship”, Valentine’s Day celebrations, focus on heterosexual and monogamous romantic relationships which leaves out aromatic and asexual people, as Sian Ferguson from everydayfemisim.com points out.
With so much emphasis on finding love and being boo’d up on V-day, it doesn’t make it easier when we have been in a pandemic. Coming out of isolation and getting back to human interaction can be nerve-wracking. Without pandemic restrictions, “going out” means you can leave the house. If you’re making the switch from online dating to in-person dating, I have searched the internet for tips on making it as stress-free as possible.
For starters, you still want to be safe and setting boundaries before linking up can help. If it is important to you, making sure your partner is vaccinated, wearing masks, or limiting personal touch are some things to consider. I found it helpful that apps like Bumble, Tinder, Hinge, Match, OKCupid, BLK, and Chispa have a feature that shows a person’s vaccination status. Also, establish physical, sexual, and emotional boundaries. Talking about sexual orientation and gender identities is another conversation to be had in the world of online dating and meeting someone for the first time. Be mindful and respect others’ views on certain topics to avoid misunderstandings and conflict. Being clear and direct can save you time and undeserved stress later down the road. Communicating with your partner about your needs and what feels good for you can help the transition run smoother.
As for wanting ways to celebrate love as you see it and not what it “should” be, the first thing on any site’s list is practicing self- love. Though this needs to be normalized throughout the year, what better time is there than on Valentine’s Day? Forget the marketing and capitalistic ways of our society to make you think that if you’re not spending money on someone then you don’t love them. Get crafty and make your own gifts, or rather show your love with quality time.
Being back on campus can create a social pressure to make friends and be more involved on campus. Those feeling anxious about putting yourself out there, know that it is more normal than you think. Try not to let in-person dating give you anxiety. With a pandemic still lingering around, feeling anxious is okay. No need to rush. Set limits and boundaries that allow you to move at your own speed and you the most comfortable. When you be yourself, the confidence will take the weight of social pressures off.
If you are single, newly single, or just ready to mingle, remember to take your time and be yourself. So what if people try to compare you to your “virtual” self, or your connection only exists in text messages and DMs? In the words of pop princess Ariana Grande, say “thank you, next”. Instead, go out with your friends or favorite family members. Or better yet, make it about loving yourself. Getting comfy by yourself with your favorite sweatpants, food, and a movie sounds like a memorable date to me.