In the early days of the pandemic, it seemed like every couple was entering a second honeymoon phase and, as a result, I was more eager than ever to find my forever puzzle partner. I wasn't alone. All around me, I saw my single friends rushing to find the ever-elusive Quarantine Bae, a partner for the end of the world. Everyone's February flings suddenly got very serious as friends moved in to play house for what was expected to be a few boring weeks of cosplaying domestication.
Dating site Plenty of Fish coined the dating phenomenon Apocalypsing, defined as, "Treating every relationship like it's your last and getting super serious with someone you just started dating." The concept was around before the pandemic — think of your friend who's always ready to propose after the first date — but has majorly taken off since, for obvious reasons. According to POF, 1 in 3 singles know someone who's guilty of this.
Treating every relationship like it’s your last and getting super serious with someone you just started dating.
It's no surprise that we all started acting a little crazy during a global health crisis with the only known solution being self-isolation and no touching. Pandemic dating bred a whole new set of obstacles for singles from the virtual date to finding someone compatible with your own COVID precautions. My single friends and I felt a lot of pressure from within to count our blessings, count our (literal) eggs, and find a life partner and FAST. The dark side of apocolypsing? I found myself ignoring some major red flags for fear of locking down alone, and found other friends settling or rolling back their personal boundaries and values, all to bake sourdough with an internet loser.
Unsurprisingly, dating experts are wary of these hastily formed relatoinships, too. "Getting swept away in a relationship can be fun and enlivening, however moving too quickly could make it difficult to check in with yourself on how you feel and where you stand," explains Jessica January Behr, Psy.D., a licensed psychologist and couples therapist. "The feeling of being wanted and connected can be distracting from the important questions about compatibility and sustainability." That's why apocalypsing relationships can lead to behaviors like codependency, obsessiveness, and feed into anxious attachment styles.
"When you rush into an apocalypse relationship, you could be subconsciously filling a void rather than consciously choosing the partner that's right for you. You are falling in love with the excitement and the mystery and the unknown," adds Tennesha Wood, dating coach and founder of The Broom List. "And let's face it: at the beginning of any relationship, there's a lot you don't know and much of what you're seeing is perception rather than reality. Taking the apocalypse approach doesn't allow enough time to develop trust and vulnerability."
That's not to say that just because you've started dating someone during the pandemic, it's doomed to fail as we approach a vaccinated, post-pandemic era of dating. But if cuffing season is coming to a close and your partner is looking like an obscure statement piece rather than a staple in your capsule collection, you might have made a panic purchase.
"Relationships that have formed in the vacuum of the pandemic may face a transition as the world reopens. Novel scenarios and challenges may emerge for couples who have had their entire relationship within four walls. How do we connect with friends? Do we like the same activities? Do we appreciate each other's behavior in public settings? Can we make time for each other when there the obligations of life return?," Dr. Behr says. "Because so many couples will be transitioning from relative isolation into bustling real life, it may be worthwhile to discuss these impending changes with your partner, share your worries or concerns and figure out a plan for communication and managing these changes," she adds.
If you're unsure if your relationship falls in this 'apocalyptic relationship' category, or if your pandemic fling is built to last once "real life" hits, Wood considers thinking about these three major milestones. Proceed with caution, or hold off on taking things to the next level, if this sounds like you.
You haven't been able to test drive their behavior in public.
"You haven't seen what your partner is like with different groups of people; their friends and family, their coworkers, your friends and family, the barista that doesn't get their order right. How they treat people is reflective of their character."
Your relationship hasn't been through the pressure cooker.
"You haven't seen how they navigate new or unfamiliar situations. Even exciting changes like buying a new home or starting a new job can be stressful. How your partner handles stress, anger, and loss outside of the relationship is a good indicator of how they will handle stress within the relationship."
You haven't braved a storm together.
"You have not successfully worked through a conflict in your relationship. How you fight is as important as how you love. Even in conflict, your partner should respect your feelings and your boundaries."
If you're worried you've slipped into apocalypsing, it's time to pause and check-in with yourself. The honeymoon might feel like it's for late nights and infatuation but this is also the crucial time to gather information about the person you're welcoming into your life and learn about compatibility and red flags. Now that we're entering a new, vaccinated era of pandemic dating, it's time to revisit your ideals list and make sure you haven't compromised on real dealbreakers. Ask yourself: Is this person really a suitable match, or just someone I'm anxiously attaching to?
Learning how to take it slow and approach new relationships in a healthier manner is not only more sustainable but will save you a lot of heartache in the long run, trust me. And remember: while your coupled friends might seem to have it all, I assure you, the grass probably only looks greener. It's been proven that the couples who take their time are the ones with lasting love.
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