As I’m writing this article, the pandemic is raging in some parts of the country and the world. Certainly, dating during the pandemic is not the same as before.
This can be a good thing, and can lead to more meaningful romantic relationships in the long run.
How Dating During the Pandemic Can Be A Good Thing
Here are some things to keep in mind.
Safety is always of supreme importance in dating. Keep yourself safe from physical and emotional harm by your dates, and from STDs.
Add to that the need to safeguard against contracting COVID-19.
Take every precaution when you venture out on dates – wear a mask, socially distance and wash your hands frequently.
Considering I always advise people to take things slow when you meet someone new, during these pandemic times that’s more crucial than ever.
In my opinion, this is a very good thing. You’ll see below that many others feel the same way.
Slowly get to know people . . . before meeting in person and getting swept up in the thrills of new love that can include poor decision making and jumping in the sack too soon. You’re much more likely to date successfully.
Now, you kind of have no choice but to take it slow. That is, unless you’re very reckless and foolish. I hope you are not these things, because you risk infecting others.
Among other things, this means using Zoom, FaceTime, Skype, etc. to get to know each other in the early days of dating. But, if you delay having that first date, you’ll probably experience fewer in-person first date jitters, because you’ve become more comfortable with each other.
Also, fewer in-person dates means fewer worries about who pays for the date.
Are You Still Holding Back from Online Dating During the Pandemic?
You may have been against, or resistant to, using dating apps before Covid. Now, since being out in public to meet people to date is so risky, you should reconsider.
Lane Moore, author of the memoir “How to Be Alone”, shared tips for virtual dating in the age of social distancing:
Don’t force yourself to use dating apps right now.
If dating apps don’t fit into your life right now, don’t force it. Just take some time off. Finding a partner isn’t some sort of assignment you have to complete right now.
Embrace the real you.
Image is an undeniable aspect of virtual dating. So what do you do if you want to create a profile with your best face forward, but don’t have the usual resources? Do the best you can, with what you have, but don’t be afraid to let virtual dates see what you actually look like. Everyone’s in the same boat.
Be honest and direct.
You can get a good idea of chemistry through a video chat. So if everything is going well — you feel comfortable and there are no signs of caginess — be honest about not knowing how to proceed.
Give yourself some extra grace right now.
This is an evergreen tip for anything pandemic-related: Be easy on yourself. Forgive yourself. These are special circumstances. You might not get it all right.
Helen Fisher, chief science adviser to Match.com, has a positive take:
“I think it’s a very good time to date. Money and sex are off the table, people have time to talk, and there’s something to talk about. We’re seeing a new stage in the dating process. So it’s an opportunity to really get to know somebody before you have the first date. And so by the time you do have the first date, it’s gonna be much more meaningful.”
Dating Safety during the Pandemic
Of course, there’s always been the risk of STDs in dating, but new questions and concerns arise when you’re navigating dating now:
- When and how will you feel safe meeting in person?
- Can you trust your date to keep their mask on throughout the date?
- Will he/she respect your desire to distance at least 6 feet apart?
- Should there be ANY physical contact on the first in-person date? If not, then when?
Infectious disease physician Richard Watkins, MD, noted:
“In general, most dating activities are incompatible with social distancing. Certain situations, like going to each other’s homes, dining out at a restaurant, hitting up a bar, and doing pretty much anything indoors are never going to be as safe as, say, having a picnic outside with masks on. And, of course, getting intimate is definitely a high risk activity.”
In the same Health.com article as above, health and lifestyle writer Korin Miller asked several doctors for advice on dating safety, and came up with a game plan:
Figure out your comfort level upfront.
Even if you’re in a relationship, make sure you and your partner are on the same wavelength about safety and risk tolerance.
Get tested for covid.
Although testing doesn’t guarantee someone is Covid-free, it may offer peace of mind. If you’ve been out and about, having a test — even if it turns out negative today — might not predict what will happen the next day.
Hash out where you feel OK dating.
The usual dating spots like bars and restaurants aren’t safe these days. Opt to take your date outside. Even dining al fresco at a restaurant is better than eating inside the restaurant. If you’ve been with someone for a while but you’re not in the same household, it may actually be safer to keep things to your homes.
Consider a virtual first date.
Using Zoom or FaceTime chat at least initially is a great idea right now. If nothing else, it will help you both suss out if you’re into each other in a low-risk setting . . . before you decide to step up to an in-person date.
Keep it one-on-one.
There’s less risk of covid transmission if the date involves just you two. Keep in mind, though, that your date could be infected and asymptomatic, and can still pass the virus to you.
Take it slow.
There’s no need to rush things. Once upon a time, courtship was patient — letters through the mail, courting visits on front porches, chaste kisses after many dates. Maybe it’s back-to-basics time.
Don’t neglect your own emotional needs.
It’s normal to feel lonely right now — especially if you’re single. Loneliness may be a trigger for people with existing mental health issues, and loneliness can also result in negative mood states.
If you’re really sure you’re ready to meet in-person, there are options like walks with masks, picnics outside . . . committing to quarantines and then coming together.
Licensed clinical psychologist Ramani Durvasula, PhD, wrapped things up in the same article as above with this sound advice:
“If people can find a sweet spot of not being foolhardy and finding workarounds to meet someone new, we may see some very special love stories come out of this pandemic.”
Lifestyle writer Leila Roker suggested:
“We’re certainly entering a more intentional dating environment. Most dating advice will tell you to play it cool, but during these times of serious health risks, you may have to get comfortable asking personal questions early on.”
She laid out 4 questions to consider asking before making an in-person date:
- What’s your COVID-19 status? Have you been tested?
- What have you been doing the past 14 days?
- Do you wear a mask?
- Have you dated? When was your last date and are you still dating?
How Safe is it to Have Sex Now?
KQED’s Senior Engagement Editor Carly Severn compiled readers’ questions and consulted with 3 sex and health experts for answers. They offered several precautions to take if you’re determined to have sex outside of your household during this pandemic:
Wear a mask.
Remember, a mask protects the other person by limiting the spread of your respiratory droplets. For masks to truly reduce risk for both of you, you’ll both need to wear one. But remember, just like with condoms, you’ll need to wear your masks correctly.
Choose positions that minimize face-to-face contact.
Consider agreeing to stick to sexual arrangements that keep your faces far apart, and ideally with one person faced completely away from the other. Yes, this is a spontaneity-killer, but if you both agree in advance and stick to it, you will avoid ‘the heat of the moment’ making the decisions for you.
Washing up really well, both before and after sex is another way sexual partners can potentially reduce their risk to each other. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If you don’t have soap and water on hand, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol and rub your hands together until they feel dry. Don’t use sanitizer anywhere intimate — it will really irritate that delicate skin. If you have someone else’s bodily fluids on your body, be sure to wash them off thoroughly. You cannot “absorb” the coronavirus through your skin, but you might touch your skin and then touch your face. If you’re using sex toys, wash those with soap and warm water.
Using condoms and other barriers.
Wearing a condom during sex will decrease your exposure to saliva or feces. For oral sex, using a condom or dental dam similarly provides a barrier. This is especially important for any anal contact.
Keep it quick.
Reducing the sexual encounter reduces the amount of time you’re potentially exposed to the virus.
The Pandemic Could Help You Find True Love Easier
Some experts believe the pandemic will actually HELP you find your true love easier.
Yue Xu of the Dateable Podcast said in an interview with CNN:
“Because we have this dedicated time to find love, there are no distractions – you’re not a bar looking at people around you or looking at your drink. Everyone’s more present and they are more conscious about the way they are showing up to these virtual or real-life dates.
Consider this a reset. Even though we’re losing magic of that first date — the first kiss, first touch — we’re forced to think about how we can reinvent dating.”
Post-Covid Dating Advice
CEO of the Dallas-based dating app VOUCH Christiana Yebra advises:
“Use video! Use it almost as a screening tool. Let’s say the pandemic is over tomorrow we’re still going to encourage users to find that connection before they meet up. It gives people that reassurance that they might have a connection with people and video is shown to still allow if there’s that chemistry right off the bat.”
Here’s an upside to all of this: If you find true love during the pandemic, think of the memories and stories you’ll be creating, having begun your relationship during such unusual times.
You’ll find lots more advice on dating during the pandemic on our COVID-19 Dating Resources page.