2020 was a tough year for everyone and an even hard one for Armenians across the globe. We started the year with the COVID-19 pandemic and ended it with the Artsakh war. For 44 days, we were glued to our phones hoping for a ceasefire and dreading the post that shared the names of fallen soldiers. It was an immense pain for all Armenians. One that’s in the past but continues to be with us, and we need to learn to live with it. As we’re trying to go back to “normal,” one of the questions is how to start dating again after such big stress and trauma.
Here are some ways to overcome that stress and get back to dating.
Manage the stress
My very first advice is to try to manage and reduce the stress. I know it’s easier said than done but you need to take care of yourself before getting back to dating. Consider it as a preparation stage. It’s the time you dedicate to yourself to cope with the post-war stress and any trauma associated with it. You can do so by increasing your physical activities, journaling, meditating, trying to get back to a routine. A lot of Armenians also feel less stress when they are involved in war relief activities such as volunteering or fundraising. So, if you feel like you need to do something that directly contributes to the recovery of Armenia then find such efforts near you and join them.
Take it slow
Dating itself is already very difficult. It’s a complex social phenomenon that requires a lot of mental energy to navigate and doing it in the aftermath of major stress is tough and demanding to say the least. So, my next advice to you is to take it slow. If you’ve been talking to someone before the war began, as a first step you can get back in touch and check how they’re doing. Start chatting and see how you feel. Don’t make any forced moves just because the social convention dictates so. Make sure that you’re comfortable with going out before you ask out/agree.
Be open and communicate
If you’re dating an Armenian then he/she is going through the same thing as you, so you actually are at an advantage here because you have shared context. When you’re on a date with an Armenian, the Artsakh war sort of becomes the elephant in the room. It’s a topic that you’ll touch upon at one point or another. Use that opportunity to be open and honest about the stress that you’re experiencing. After all, having someone to talk to (especially someone who understands you very well) can help cope with the stress.
It’s also important that you stay mindful of how your partner is feeling and check on them. Develop a support mechanism that benefits both of you.
Don’t be ashamed of getting back to dating
One of the most common things that I’ve noticed among Armenian after the Artsakh war is the feeling of shame when experiencing a happy moment. Yes, what happened in the fall was truly tragic and a part of our hearts will forever remain broken but it doesn’t mean that we can’t be happy again. Time had stopped for us for 44 days but now it has resumed, and we need to keep living and loving. So, if you think that it’s not appropriate to get back to dating then you need to revisit that thought. It’s completely normal to feel the need of socializing, going out on dates and enjoying them.
For those who lost a loved one
Dating after war is different for those who lost a loved one be it a brother, a father, a friend or a partner. Losing a spouse is particularly devastating. It’s a more complicated case and we’re dealing with grief here in addition to stress. This process is different for everyone. There is no magic duration after which it becomes normal to date. You’ll need to move on at your own pace – give room to the grief but also don’t shut the door to love. Make sure you seek for help and support if you need it, and don’t feel guilty about wanting to find love again.
It’s been a challenging year but we can overcome these challenges especially if we have someone next to us. Hopefully this article helped you consider the idea of getting back to dating and you’ll find that special someone to walk this difficult path ahead.