The Naked Truth

What dating looks like now

Does it ever feel wild that four years ago most of us were stuck at home in lockdown, peeking out at the news from under our weighted anti-anxiety blankets, uncertain what the future had in store? In some ways, the pandemic feels like a suppressed memory that sporadically pops into your brain making you question if it actually happened. In other ways, it’s still very much not over—not completely, anyway. You try to make a doctor appointment for this century; or discover your grocery store is randomly out of all the butter; or go for a walk and see the endless parade of discarded masks on the side of the road. Worse: You get stupid freaking COVID-19 and it all comes rushing back.

Even better, in 2024 we get to experience one of the biggest pandemic triggers of all: an election replete with the same two underwhelming geezers who seem more than ready to stress us out and piss us off all over again, just like they did in 2020. Yet even though this aspect of post-COVID reality feels like a recurrent fever dream, the pandemic did change many other aspects of life—such as the way people approach dating. I’m here to help you take that first step.

I’m struggling with how to date in this politically hot climate. How far is too far when weighing political differences with a potential partner? I feel like it’s impossible to find someone who has the exact same views as I do, but it also feels impossible to compromise in this climate. How do I navigate this?


Something I think might help is if you try to frame your views in a way that’s unique to you and honors the nuances of how you feel. In this tense climate, we put a lot of weight into speaking in absolutes, and I’m not sure that communicating that way in the dating world is helpful, at least at first.

I’m not talking about topics like racism and human rights. To me, those issues are not political. So maybe that’s first: Get clear on what you consider to be political issues and what you consider to be non-negotiable fundamental rights that are not up for debate.

When broaching the subject with a date, try not to phrase comments with political keywords by asking questions like: “Are you pro-life or pro-choice?” Instead, pose queries such as: “How did the reversal of Roe V. Wade make you feel? Was it something that made an impact in your life?” Doing this rather than using lingo we’ve all heard a zillion times on the news—lingo that doesn’t inspire connectivity, btw—won’t box you or your date in conversationally, and you’ll be able to learn a lot more about each other, or even from each other. If you start looking for the places where you connect rather than places where you’d have to compromise your views, you may be surprised at how aligned you are with other people. You are allowed to be strong and soft at the same time, even in this climate.

My self-esteem took a hit during lockdown, and it’s made me continue to isolate. I want to feel good about myself before I get back out there and step into the dating world, but I don’t know how to break that barrier. Do you have a formula for success?


The number one message I want you to know is that you are so not alone with how you are feeling. I hear statements like this all the time and have even felt this way myself. But more than that, the data backs it up. In 2021, AdCare Treatment Centers released poll results that found one in five Americans suffered from low self-esteem during the pandemic—including a shocking 27% of New Mexicans. That’s a pretty significant number. Numerous studies in recent years have detailed the impact social isolation from the pandemic has had on mental health. One study published last September by lead researcher and Harvard’s John L. Loeb and Frances Lehman Loeb Professor of Epidemiology Tyler VanderWeele and others pointed out that when you become very lonely, you actually tend to withdraw further from your community—which in my opinion is a big part of what is happening here.

It’s a vicious cycle and, instead of worrying about dating right now, I want you to try and break the cycle by putting yourself in social settings again—ones where you can feel the pulse of the world. See live music, dance, meet friends for dinner and lively conversation, or, if you’re a more “dive into the deep end” type of person, travel to a big city and pretend you live there for a week or two. Anything that helps connect you back to the collective energetic field again. This is one of those instances where the only thing that can prepare you for doing the thing is doing the thing.

Layla Asher is a local sex worker on a mission to spread radical self love to her community and the world. Want to ask your local sex worker their expert opinion on something? Let’s start a sex positive conversation that keeps respect and confidentiality at the forefront and judgment a thing of the past. Please submit your questions to and include an alias that protects your anonymity.

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