Dating is many things: complicated, awkward, and exhilarating to name a few. Add in a global pandemic with social distancing guidelines, mask mandates, and the fear of a contagious virus and the dating game has been completely flipped upside down.
There is much uncertainty and hesitation on what is safe and appropriate while getting to know someone, and perhaps even beginning a new relationship. Can there be a safe and healthy way to date during the pandemic?
We are highlighting some ways to navigate this brand new way of romantically connecting with others.
How to Date During the Pandemic
1. Be Direct
Dating during the pandemic requires candid and direct conversations, as effective communication is key to being on the same page while entering these uncharted waters. Identifying and discussing what you are looking for can ensure that you are expending time and energy into something that aligns with your dating expectations. This also provides some clarity and stability amidst the ambiguity of the current reality.
And of course, with the threat of a contagious virus, it’s necessary to discuss what you are comfortable with and be honest about the safety measures each of you are taking. Decide what boundaries you are comfortable with, which can include video dates only, or getting COVID tests before meeting in person, and communicate these with your dates early and often. Setting clear boundaries limits the opportunity for confusion or potential exposure situations.
2. Get Creative with Dates
It can feel monotonous and bland if every date consists of FaceTiming from the exact same spot in your home. Despite not being able to engage in as many exciting in-person date adventures, it is possible to shake things up and bring some fun and new-ness to pandemic friendly dates.
Consider taking your virtual date to a place that’s special for each of you, sharing with your significant other the meaning behind your favorite spot and giving them a virtual tour of it. Once you have identified your common interests, plan dates around these ideas! For instance, if both of you are interested in art, take a virtual tour of a museum or participate in a virtual paint class together.
If you decide it’s safe and comfortable to have an in-person date, keep it outside where the risk is lower. Take a walk in a nearby park, or have a picnic together where each of you makes a dish for the other.
3. Take Your Time
One of the frustrating parts about dating is investing time and effort into getting to know someone, only to realize that you aren’t a good match. A benefit of dating during the pandemic is that it allows the opportunity for deeper connection and quality conversation that may normally take much longer to reach.
The restrictions have taken some of the pressure out of dating, as people are taking time to slow down and get to know one another without making snap judgments. Justin Lehmiller, a researcher at Indiana University’s Kinsey Institute conducted a recent survey of pandemic daters. In his research, he has found that most people are much more willing to have deep and meaningful conversations than they were pre-COVID.
“People are actually using this as an opportunity to get to know each other at a much deeper level than they were before,” he shares. “And that has the potential to lead to much stronger relationships.”
Check out the 36 Questions That Lead to Love for some inspiration in guiding connecting conversation between you and your significant other.
4. …what about being physical?
Depending on what your comfortability is, it may be awkward to bring up affection – whether it be holding hands, kissing, or sex. However, this is an important subject to broach with those you are dating. If you aren’t used to being direct, it may be helpful to name the discomfort and fear surrounding discussing physical boundaries, perhaps saying “I’d like to ask you something, but I’m nervous about bringing it up”. This can reduce tension and allow space for the two of you to connect over the awkwardness of it all.
If you decide that you and your date are comfortable with in person physical affection, ensure that you are communicating openly about each of your desires and boundaries. Share the risks that you have taken, ask about the other person’s risk, and discuss together your interest in getting intimate with one another.
The New Normal
The risks and restrictions in our current reality can make looking for love seem even more complicated than usual. However, it is possible to safely get to know someone and have fun while doing so. Dating during the pandemic is certainly new territory, and focusing on your values and building a connection with another can bring some ease into the experience.
If you’d like the guidance of a counselor in navigating dating and effective communication, Pure Health Center is here to support you!