Over the course of these past 18 months, singletons in the MENA have sat through what might best be described as the slow demise of their romantic lives. With strict social and physical distancing measures introduced to limit the spread of COVID-19, the pandemic has changed the way people relate to one another in every way imaginable. For some, it became a relationship accelerator, for others, it exposed the incompatibilities which lead to breakups.
With countries starting to open up and COVID-19 rules beginning to ease across the globe, largely due to vaccine rollouts, could the the summer of love be on the horizon? Could we be reliving the roaring twenties once more? Possibly. Because now we have to deal with FODA, the “fear of dating again.” To those unaware, FODA is the new phenomenon associated with the fear of crowds and socializing again.
With out-of-practice social skills, fueled with higher levels of social anxiety, Paris based psychoanalyst Ingrid Sawaya, says that virtual dating and social networking contributed to the development of FODA. “We did not know how long the pandemic would last, so people became content with what’s available, which is the internet. To date is to often fulfill emptiness, whether it’s sexual, emotional or other. People fulfilled those needs online.”
We are emerging from a lockdown having undergone seismic life changes. Sawaya’s advise to anyone with FODA is to go on a date without any expectations. “During the pandemic, there was a shift in expectations. In the past, it was about meeting someone you would fall in love with; however, the pandemic taught us that we lost the well-established ways of life. What we missed and are looking for are the activities, doing things.”
Indeed… After an inconceivable year where most of us spent our days lounging in pajamas, joggers or nothing at all, the day of frantically texting all your group chats asking “What should I wear?!” has come. So what do you wear? Do your old clothes still fit you? Are you self-conscious?
Sawaya says that if you are self-conscious about weight gain or other, “it’s not going to be the first date that’s going to be significant.” Look at each other, she suggests. Instead of asking how will the person find you, look at them, notice their smell, their seductive stares and their movement. “All the non-verbal signals are important. We do not look at people anymore. The sending and receiving of those signals are important. Not interacting socially for more than a year made us lose our belief and faith in that.”
You are probably still wondering what to wear, so look no further. The FTA team and I scoured the internet in hopes of finding the best pieces for your first post-pandemic date. Go through the carrousels below as your go-to Arab fashion guide!
WHAT TO WEAR ON A COFFEE DATE
Look 1: 1309 x Nafsike Skourti You’re going for a casual look, but who said casual is boring? This co-ord set will definitely have people asking: who was that?
Look 2: Abadia Classy yet edgy. You’re giving the best of both worlds. This sleeveless dress with raw gathering at hips is going to have them swoon over you.
Look 3: Claudette The Brand Coming out a pandemic, but still rocking the jogger look? Well, Claudette The Brand would be an exception. Worn by P. Diddy, Meghan Fox and more, dress like a celebrity but stay comfy.
Look 4: Emergency Room Beirut It’s a vibe. You enjoy partying and you’re always looking to pull out an edgy look, even if it just means going for a cup of coffee.
Look 5: Nol Collective Understated, yet sexy. What more can you want?
Look 6: Realself The best way to elevate a jogger suit is by pairing it with a classic trench coat.
Look 7: Zaid Farouki You enjoy a classic look, but you’ve also been to Tulum. This one is for you.
WHAT TO WEAR ON A DINNER DATE
Look 1: Ahmed Amer You’re elusive but you’ve still got a thing about you. Make them wonder.
Look 2: Anamalous Monism You like a good reaction, and you’re always thinking outside the box. This is your take on a traditional suit.
Look 3: Maison Du Mec Mysterious yet charming. You’re not opting for a regular tuxedo. You’re going all-out with this tie-around suit.
Look 4: Reemami It is Michelin Star worthy.
Look 5: Roni Helou Subtle with the colours, but not with that neckline.
Look 6: Yassmin Saleh You’re confident, sexy and you know what you want. Go and get it.
One last thought for the road: if you’re feeling anxious about dating and dressing-up again, make space for something new. “One positive thing that came out of the pandemic is the possibility to make space for something new,” says Sawaya. “My advice would be: learn to be surprised. The pandemic was a bad surprise, but life is also full of good ones. Things were not that perfect before.”
Now go ahead and get dressed, your date is waiting!