Dating After #MeToo

August 26, 2022

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Claudia Black Young Adult Center

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By Anna McKenzie

We’re living in a post-#MeToo world, and the movement has changed several aspects of everyday life. Perhaps its greatest impact is seen and felt in the dating world. Whether you’re wading into the dating waters for the first time or have been in the thick of it, you know that dating today is much more complex than it was for your parents’ generation. Dealing with dating apps, social media, and pandemic repercussions has been challenging enough. Throw in dating after #MeToo, and you may start to wonder if finding love is even possible.

Here’s the good news: People are still going on dates, finding love, and getting married. Some articles you read will say that #MeToo killed dating, but that’s simply not true. The landscape has changed, but by making good choices, you can still navigate it successfully. So how has dating changed after #MeToo for both men and women? And how can you approach healthy dating in a post-#MeToo world? Let’s find out. 

The #MeToo Effect on Dating 

When you consider the #MeToo effect on dating, some of the major results are obvious. Thanks to a spotlight on sexual harassment and assault, women have become more liberated. They’ve stopped tolerating hostile relationships and are able to speak up when guys cross the line. At the same time, men who have typically been seen as the abusers are being held more accountable. They’re no longer allowed to do as they please without permission. 

In the context of #MeToo, more people have become confused as to what proper consent actually looks like.

In addition, a new sense of hyperawareness has infiltrated dating culture, according to NBCNews.com. More people are talking about sexual harassment and its related issues. What “consent” means in a dating relationship has become a prominent conversation topic. In the context of #MeToo, more people have become confused as to what proper consent actually looks like, according to Global News. In fact, a 2015 study by Canadian Women’s Foundation showed two out of three people didn’t know what sexual consent meant, and that was just in Canada alone. 

While these are some of the widespread changes in dating after #MeToo, let’s take a deeper look at its specific effects on men and women:

#MeToo’s Effect on Women

After #MeToo, some women are reevaluating the protocol for expressing their interest to coworkers. For example, a woman reached out to an advice columnist at The Guardian to ask if reinitiating contact with a coworker who she’d previously communicated interest in would constitute harassment in the workplace

On the other hand, with a greater awareness of sexual assault, other women are dating more cautiously. One college student shared with NBCNews.com that she carefully considers which fraternity houses to avoid when she’s going out with friends and never leaves her drink unattended in social situations. 

#MeToo’s Effect on Men

According to CBSNews.com, a 2019 study showed that 51% of single American men feel that the #MeToo movement has changed how they act. Men are being more careful, reserved, and aware of the kinds of jokes they make. They’re also asking for permission more often when it comes to expressing physical affection. 

Many men are unsure how to “make the first move” in a way that is both confident and mindful of a woman’s boundaries.

With caution comes nervousness as well. Many men are unsure how to “make the first move” in a way that is both confident and mindful of a woman’s boundaries, according to The Washington Post. Several are also more welcoming of women making the first move in a dating relationship. Thrive Global shared that Match even did a study that revealed 75% of men were comfortable with women saying hello first on its dating app. 

Dating has forever changed thanks to #MeToo. It’s clear that successful dating requires making good choices to keep you safe and healthy along the way.

Dating Tips for a Post-#MeToo World 

Let’s face it — dating after #MeToo is complicated — for both men and women. Here are a few tips for you to keep in mind for a healthy post-#MeToo dating approach:

  • Go on Initial Dates in Public Places 

As you begin dating, it’s likely you don’t know your new date very well. He or she may even be a stranger you met online. Because of this, it’s best to go on your first few dates in public places where you can be seen by others. Pick a coffee shop or restaurant over a hike in the woods or dinner at your date’s home. This choice protects both men and women from unsafe situations, unwanted advances, or false accusations. 

  • Communicate Before Showing Physical Affection 

When you’re wanting to express physical affection to your date, don’t assume your date would like to receive it. Take a moment to first ask, “Is this OK?” and be specific about your intentions. Then honor your date’s answer so that you’re still comfortable, too. 

  • Set Up (and Respect) Boundaries

Be intentional about communicating clear boundaries upfront regarding personal space, affection, and anything else you feel is important. Then uphold those boundaries in public or private. If your date wants stricter boundaries than you, respect his or her wishes. You’ll date from a place of trust.

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