WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – As masks come off and social distancing drop for those who are vaccinated, it’s inspiring some to get back to pre-pandemic activities. And, that includes dating.

“I miss seeing faces for sure, I like it way better,” said Leanna Steiner.

She is kicking off her weekend at the Monarch, a restaurant in Wichita’s Delano District. Her mask was off with the hopes of a possible match in the making.

“I’m able to talk way more and get out there more, meet people,” she said pointing to her date sitting across the table. “I mean you can really like get out see things, actually do activities,” said her date Blake Ashley.

Suzanna Mathews, matchmaker and dating expert with the Dating Maven, says Kansans are ready to get back out.

“People are craving connection and that is the human condition to want for that — so people are dating with some urgency now,” Mathews explained.

Mathews says there is a hurdle for some to get past.

“We’ve had these barriers in the form of masks, and we haven’t been and touching each other with handshakes and hugs in over a year — so, there’s a little bit of this sort of, like awkward gap, where we have to remind ourselves like, okay, it’s probably okay to have some human contacts again.”

Mathews suggests you give yourself and date some grace. Even challenging yourself to think past basic questions, “so really, you know, just getting past the kind of superficial fluff questions and not being afraid to be authentic and vulnerable.”

Wichita State Professor and clinical psychologist, Dr. Suzanne Hawley says the dating field will be mixed with emotions for all.

“I think if we just tolerate, maybe a little awkwardness or excitement or anxiety, that’s perfectly fine — you know, that’s just part of the process of life,” she said.

Dr. Hawley says the pandemic while difficult for many has brought a silver lining for some.

“Post-traumatic growth and that is when a person is forever changed in a positive way — you’re impacted at a level that you can’t be the same and that makes you a deeper, more richer person,” she explained.

Both ladies are hoping people will use the pandemic experience to be a little more vulnerable with others and understanding when it comes to difficult conversations.