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Pandemic Dating and its accessory, the face mask


The ultimate pandemic essential, the face mask did not enjoy this much attention before Covid-19 made an entrance. It was only used in medical facilities, when someone was ill, or by celebrities hiding from the paparazzi. Half-faced humans walking around in public has become the norm for over a year. Now, no matter how much we try to catch our breath while wearing masks, it has become so habitual that we sometimes can’t imagine how we’d interact with others without one. No more scowling at commuters in trains and buses.  

Dating has also been mildly hindered by this unfortunate (or fortunate?) accessory. With the only mask-off moments in eateries, or whilst having a quick sip or bite on the go, our first impressions are limited to the top half of our faces. How would this affect dating? While some consider their eyes their best feature, others are more confident with their entire face. Some love it, and some hate it. Here are the pros and cons of dating with masks:

Pros

  1. Going on a bad date? You can hide that scowl of boredom

If you’ve ever been on a bad date, it could’ve been hard trying to hide your facial expressions. Sometimes, a date can be boring because your personality simply doesn’t click with your date. It’s difficult to cover up the “this date isn’t going well” face; but now, you don’t have to worry about offending your date with that scowl behind your mask. If the tables turned and now your date isn’t having a great time, you wouldn’t see that scowl. It’s a win-win situation. Just remember to talk it out and part ways on good terms. And please, don’t cite this article to justify your scowling. 

  1. You can dodge a kiss easily 

Not feeling like getting kissed? Your mask has got you covered. Literally. After a date, there are several parting gestures to bid goodbye to your date. An elbow tap, a hug, a kiss on the cheek. What’s definitely not happening is a kiss on the lips. As long as your mask is up, you’ll thank your mask for being there to avoid unwanted or sudden advances (something that we couldn’t dodge as easily before the pandemic). 

  1. Comfort is key 

Some people feel more comfortable and less anxious with masks on, because of the near anonymous status that wearing a mask provides. Because less emotion is seen, or because half your face is covered, some people are not as afraid of judgemental eyes or of others noticing that unintentional frown, diminishing the need to worry about how others perceive you. 

  1. You can hide the food that’s stuck in your teeth

Wondering what’s a bad date food? I don’t think anything is a bad date food. Eat whatever you want. But sometimes, that one annoying basil or pepper gets snugly stuck in between your teeth. And again, you can thank your mask for covering your mouth and that embarrassing food item lounging in between your teeth. 

Cons

  1. Mask fishing 

Be it meeting the person online or in real life, when all you see is a human with half his/her face covered by a mask, you can’t help but think what lies under that mask. We make assumptions, but are unsure if what we think of is what we’d get. 

Wearing a mask in a photo for a dating profile might put some people off. Covering one-half of your face, when a dating app is essentially for your entire face to be seen so people can swipe right, seems redundant. But for those who don’t have a plethora of images of themselves in their camera roll waiting to be contested against to be put up on a dating app, the recent photos of you in a mask is all you’ve got. 

If you wish to find out how your date looks before meeting in real life, you could simply ask, as you get more comfortable with each other, for a video chat or their instagram profile so that both of you get to see how the other person genuinely looks like. You could also schedule a lunch or dinner date – there’s no refusing to take your mask off in those situations. By then, your personality would have already given you plus points! But, if you find out that the person has been mask fishing all along, you can find it out too. 

  1. You can’t hear properly or speak coherently 

That dreaded moment when you have to raise your voice because your mask is restricting sound waves is a problem many face. The muffled sounding of your voice is hard to avoid when speaking with a mask on your face. The absence of lips also throws you off sometimes as you’re unsure if your date is speaking to you (or is it just the dude sitting behind you speaking to his girlfriend). 

You also have to perk your ears up a bit more, or lean in a little to catch what your date is saying. And it gets a little tiring to always ask or get asked to repeat oneself. You can avoid these situations by going on a more activity-based date like going for an open dance class, volunteering together at animal shelters if you both love animals, trying your hand at mini-golf, or going bowling. 

It creates opportunities for you and your date to interact in situations that don’t occur while the two of you are sitting politely across the table. It can even reduce first date jitters and clear up any awkward airs from the first few minutes of meeting each other. 

  1. Awkward situations

There’s always another way for embarrassment to make its entrance even with the food in your teeth covered. You wear your mask inside out, your mask snaps, some part of your mask gets caught under your chin or folds on your nose, there’s always room for an awkward situation. 

There’s no sure method to avoid this, but when it does and your date lets you know, the two of you can have a nice laugh about the small slip-up. But if your date doesn’t have a sense of humour, you might also start fading yourself out of the scene. Either way, these moments happen all the time, more often than you’d expect, so there’s no need to feel embarrassed about it. 

  1. You’re unable to read their emotions 

Although the eyes are “windows to the soul”, we’re more used to reading the emotions of an entire face. As much as hiding a scowl benefits you, it’s rather unfair to your date. At the same time, you’d want to see how your date feels through their facial expression behind the mask. Is your date happy? Annoyed? Have a blast? Pulling a face?

Perhaps you should focus on how your date replies to you. Most times, you can tell from the tone of the voice. And it’s always nice to ask how to date went for the other party, so you know what works for you two and what doesn’t. 

As much as masks saves you from awkward situations and boosts confidence for some, there are other times when masks are just not it. Dating is for you to find out what you’re essentially looking out for in a partner, so comfort is key, with or without a mask. Now that you’ve weighed out the pros and cons, perhaps you’ll be better prepared the next time you go on a date.



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