This past year and half has definitely changed how many of us do many different things. From working remotely to home-schooling to learning to enjoy cooking again, many of us have had to change gears rapidly to fit into a new, quasi-slower lifestyle. And now that things are opening up again, we all seem to be trying to discover this “new normal” which seems to be a blend of old habits mixed with some “I-don’t-want-to-go-back-to-my-old-ways” mixed in.

And that statement holds very true for one particular group: daters. This pandemic put a rapid and complete stop to dating, as we knew it, for over a year! And, although I am not single, as a lover of human connections, it has been interesting to watch singles around the globe find new and inventive ways to date virtually. It was interesting to watch because, what I saw emerge, was a different style of dating. One in which it was less about this lackadaisical, quick “get-to-know-you” coffee in between rushing and zooming about. It became a more slow, thoughtful, “I’ve-got-no-where-else-to-be-than-right-here” moment.

So what does this “new normal” date night look like? Sure, everyone can go back to the quick coffee, but I don’t think anyone wishes to lose the thoughtfulness of the more complete date. So here are some cute and thoughtful “get-to-know-you-better” date night ideas for blending “speed” with the new normal.

1)    CAN YOU ESCAPE THE ROOM?: I can’t speak for everyone, but before choosing a mate, I would want to make sure that their escape skills are on point! Kidding aside, working together to solve puzzles is a much better way to get to know someone on a deeper level than a series of “where did you grow up” style questions. It’s fun, it requires a certain level of analytical skills, and it forces you to work as a team. And, Montreal is filled with escape rooms - we are definitely not lacking in options!

2)    DINNER DONE DIFFERENTLY: Ok, I know what you are thinking, most people who have been dating for a while will tell you that going to a restaurant for a long drawn out dinner is a disaster if, in the first 5 minutes, you realize you are not very compatible. However, with trendy “food court” style hot spots re-opening, a nice dinner can end up being the same amount of time as a quick coffee, except with deeper dinner conversation. I will admit, I was not sold on this “food court” thing until I went to Time Out Market at the Eaton Center. But with top restaurants showcasing their wares, in a quick-service meets trendy space, the result is an amazing spot for intimate get-to-know-you dates! They even have well-thought-out tinted glass dividers at the tables with interesting quotes about Montreal and dining. Texting your date the quote of the table you are sitting at is a cute way to avoid that awkward, unsure eye contact of a first date…

3)    HIT UP THE ARCADE: That’s right, we’re talking old school! And don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. Personally, if I can’t have fun with someone, I’d want to know before things went any further than one date. Being able to let loose and have a little bit of silly fun is an important element in building a solid relationship foundation. And besides, if you can’t beat me in MarioKart, or at least give me a run for my money in Dance Dance Revolution, we kinda need to know that now (the hubby and I are huge arcade fans for a fun, quirky date night!)

4)    GO TO THE MARKET: First of all, although the idea of multi-tasking is a very pre-Covid notion, it can still have a small space in this new slower post-Covid world. So, running weekend errands while dating at the same time is absolute perfection! Strolling through the vibrant, fresh, brightly coloured stalls of a fresh farmers market is romantic, efficient (you can buy your groceries at the same time) and a great way to get to know someone (do they know how to choose the ripest fruit? You need to know this early on!) If the date is going well, you can grab a snack and sit on a nearby bench to deepen the conversation. If not, at least you got your fruits and vegetables shopping done!

5)    HIT THE OLD PORT: This is, of course, an easy one. The Old Port has been slowly but surely reinventing itself and is the perfect spot for a first date. Are you an adventurous type? Go zip-lining! Are you more of a romantic? Hit la Grand Roue! Are you a gastronome? There are a ton of food truck options to check out while strolling! No matter what style of person you are, the Old Port has something for everyone!

I realize that, as a non-single, I might be out of touch with the dating scene. But I currently think that, after a year and a half of pandemic confinement, EVERYONE is out of touch with the dating scene. It is ripe for re-invention and re-discovery! And that, dear readers, is where I shine!

Good luck on the new-normal dating scene!

- Sarah Birtwistle

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