Even during pre-COVID times, dating has proven to be a strange, sometimes remarkably awkward phenomenon. If you’ve dated before, you’re probably all-too familiar with the nervous butterflies before the first meeting, the highly anticipated end-of-the-night first kiss, and the dreaded internal monologue: “oh no, should I reach for my wallet and try to pay even though I know they definitely won’t let me?”
Fast forward to 2020, where we not only have all the quirks of dating to throw into the mix, but also a highly contagious virus running loose with no cure in sight. On top of that, our natural human response is to get close to people for comfort when faced with isolating and uncertain events, but social distancing rules mandate we keep our distance from others. All of these factors combined have led to some very bizarre (dare we say — unprecedented?) times, especially when it comes to dating. But just because dating doesn’t look like what we’re used to doesn’t mean it’s not possible.
While everybody’s dating experience will vary based on their preferences, there are a few general guidelines we can recommend to make sure the experience is as healthy, safe, and fulfilling as possible. Here is our list of dating do’s and don’ts during COVID-19:
Photo by Jae Park
Set clear boundaries and intentions with whom you’re seeing.
As with dating in pre-COVID times, open communication and a mutual understanding of each partner’s personal desires and boundaries is key to cultivating a healthy relationship. This is especially true now, when your health and safety are on the line. During your first meeting, whether that’s in person or online, discuss what’s important to you in terms of relationship goals and in terms of COVID safety. Understanding expectations right off the bat will provide you with peace of mind and clarity moving forward.
Wearing face masks is proven to help curb the spread of COVID-19. If you’ve decided to see the person you’re dating face-to-face, play it safe and wear a mask.
Photo by Hian Oliveira
Communicate about physical touch.
Roughly one in four Americans ages 20 to 31 broke quarantine to have intimate contact with someone in April, when stay-at-home orders were at their peak. That means that, yes, while social distancing is still very much a thing in most states, Americans are open to discovering their personal comfort levels with engaging in physical touch. The same should go for you and the person you’re dating: be communicative about what you’re comfortable with.
Enjoy dates outdoors.
Research has pointed to evidence that outdoor transmission of COVID-19 is low, provided you still maintain safe distances from other people. That gives you a great excuse to head outdoors, whether that’s on a hike, a picnic, or a day at the beach. Just remember to follow all social distancing guidelines of any park or recreational area you’re visiting.
Photo by OS
Try to rush things.
This goes for pretty much any dating experience, pandemic or no pandemic. But life takes on a different tempo in quarantine. Time may feel like it’s inching by but also flying at top speed simultaneously; the pandemic has altered our perception of time in ways we couldn’t have imagined before. This gives us all the more reason to take a step back and go slow, even if we’re biting at the bit to meet new people and expand our “quarantine bubble.” Good things will come in time!
Do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable about your state or country’s social distancing guidelines.
There’s no room for peer pressure here! If somebody is asking you to engage in risky behavior or to do things that make you feel unsafe, don’t be afraid to put your foot down.
Photo by Ben Collins
Let your video calls run off the hook.
Time limits can be a great way to ensure a quality conversation with someone. If you know you only have two hours to chat via FaceTime, chances are you’ll try to make the most of those hours. Video calls that go on forever can dampen an otherwise exciting connection. At the same time, don’t cut off a video chat prematurely if the conversation is flowing and sparks are flying — we’ll let you be the judge of that!
Get discouraged by this “new normal.”
The days of meeting strangers at bars and restaurants may be over for now, but try not to get wrapped up in what could have been. Instead, focus on the exciting elements that dating during the pandemic has given us: a greater appreciation for quality time and intimate connections, as well as a motivator to get creative with date ideas. There are people out there who have found their soul mates during COVID via online dating; who says you aren’t next?!