Spring is in the air again and just like the birds and the bees, many of us feel ready to be meeting new people, dating, and being intimate in pre-pandemic ways.

The past year has been one of the hardest to be single as so many interactions even with close relations have been restricted. Reliance on digital communities and dating apps has demonstrated their strengths and weaknesses. I believe that finding a path that feels both safe and allows for more contact in this transition back to connection will require some new practices. Here is a quick list to get you started.

1. Respect Health Concerns

One thing that 2020 taught us is that we all are responsible for our own health – and that of the people we associate with. Having the COVID check-in about how you have been managing your health and abiding by safety recommendations is now the first gate that most new relationships pass through to make sure that even the first date is compatible.

For many starting out dating, they are taking this health-first approach to STI communications, as well. Knowing your own health status and sharing concerns shows the respect that many people demand before getting to know you.

2. Embrace a Slower Pace

One silver lining of beginning relationships in a pandemic is the ways that it has brought back the old practice of taking the time to get to know someone. Learning more about common interests, having conversations that show your sense of humor, and letting people see more deeply into the relationships that feed your life provides solid footing for building a relationship that could last.

3. Show Up Uniquely

Sharing yourself in creative ways has created many openings for new relationships to flourish. Sending handwritten letters marks the time and makes for a great memento, as does leaving a hand-picked bouquet by the door. Stepping out of the quick text messaging back-and-forth to say more about what you do and how you’re feeling is a way to move relationships into daily life.

  

4. Be More Emotionally Intelligent and Available

Because this has been such an acute period of uncertainty and loneliness for so many, becoming more emotionally available and showing up as a good listener is one sure way to find yourself connected to new love interests.

We all have a lot to learn about being more active listeners and not being distracted by our own thoughts or devices. Listening with emotional intelligence means feeling what people are trying to say. Try asking questions like, “I think I heard you say…” or “It sounds like you are feeling… is that right?” Checking in shows you are giving your full attention and nips misunderstandings in the bud.

5. Begin with Virtual Intimacy

Sexual intimacy takes longer than it did in pre-COVID days. Feeling safe to be vulnerable and open in this way is more complicated since lockdown began and now more than ever it deserves real communication. One suggestion is to begin with virtual intimacy, which can help both people learn more about what the other person likes and can open the door to more intimate conversations.