Dating can be nerve-wracking under even the best of circumstances—but dating amidst the coronavirus pandemic seems counterintuitive.
Whether you’ve been with someone for a while but don’t live together, or are interested in meeting someone for the first time, there are certain precautions you need to take while dating during the coronavirus pandemic. Throw changing local regulations into the mix—and, of course, your own anxious feelings about coronavirus—and it can be seriously confusing whether it’s OK to put yourself out there.
How should you navigate a date when you’re not sure a kiss goodbye, let alone an in-person rendezvous, is on the table? Certain dating apps are trying to ease the process. Bumble now lets its users add a badge to their profiles that signify what kind of dates they’re comfortable with: virtual, socially distanced or socially distanced with a mask. And on Lex, which caters to the queer community, users often preface their personal ads with their Covid-19 or antibody test results, said Kell Rakowski, the app’s founder. Still, meeting up in person — and any physical contact, be it a touch on the arm or sex — requires some pretty candid conversations.
In the face of a virus that can spread when two people simply breathe the same air, dating amidst the coronavirus pandemic seems counterintuitive. While COVID-19 poses very real health hazards, its interpersonal consequences — namely, the need for quarantine and social-distancing — have left people around the world craving connection.
Humans are social creatures and our need for love, as well as sex, will always prevail. As bars, parties and other crowded social gatherings become red zones, singles formerly averse to online dating are turning to apps such as Bumble and Hinge for connection. In fact, Bumble saw a 16 percent global increase in messages sent during the last week of April, while Hinge reported a 30 percent surge in messages sent globally throughout March. In response to the pandemic, Hinge launched a video chat feature to help facilitate virtual dating, a safer alternative to in-person meet-ups. Use of Bumble’s video chat addition, which was introduced in 2019, rose 70 percent during the last week of March. “When physical connection is limited, humans will seek out other means to interact and engage,” a representative from Bumble notes.
If you’re looking to start a flirtation or turn a fling into something serious, doctors, love coaches, and dating app experts share tips on how to safely date during the pandemic — as well as insight into why now may be an ideal time to find love.
Remote meetings don’t have to be awkward
Video dating can be an effective way to learn about each other. Whether you prefer Zoom, FaceTime or Google Hangouts, video chat is the next best thing to physically meeting. Both Bumble and Hinge offer in-app video chat features, which have proven to be popular despite initial reticence to try them out. According to Logan Ury, Hinge’s director of relationship science, 70 percent of the app’s users were open to video dating yet very few had actually tried it as of the beginning of the pandemic. “They were afraid it would be awkward,” Ury explains.
Now, nearly half of all Hinge users have been on a video date (for the record, 81 percent found their virtual dates “not at all or only slightly” awkward). If this metric doesn’t ease your video dating anxiety, Van Doran has tips for making the experience more comfortable. The matchmaker suggests setting up a dedicated “dating spot” in your home, away from where you work. “Make sure that things are organized behind it, that the lighting is flattering on your face — almost like you are making a little movie set,” she recommends.
Set boundaries and for now, keep in-person dates outside
Now, more than ever, it’s crucial that partners get a feel for each other’s boundaries — and explicitly define what they are and aren’t comfortable with — before physically meeting. Say the virtual meetings have gone well and you’ve mutually decided that it’s time to meet in person. Before this meeting occurs, set some ground rules on how you will interact. It can be very problematic if you go into the first meeting with very different expectations. Offering a digital conversation starter on boundaries, Bumble rolled out Virtual Dating Badges allowing users to indicate what types of dates they’re comfortable with: virtual, socially distanced, or socially distanced with a mask. “Globally, we saw that nearly 1 million people on Bumble added the Virtual Dating Badge to their profiles,” a representative from the app said. “We’re thinking of our users and how we can provide them the safest, most comfortable options for connecting.”
If you’re considering going on an in-person date, take an honest measure of your risk level for both contracting and spreading the virus. In addition, those living with someone at a higher risk of developing a severe case of COVID-19 should stay at home.
If you’re not comfortable drinking or dining outside, try a date in the park, a scenic walk or even a bike ride.
Choose a place you can socially distance
When it comes to Covid-19 coronavirus risk, remember the key factors are the length of time that you are exposed to the virus and the amount of virus that’s present. Assume that the other person may be infected, and choose a venue that can reduce both the amount and time that you are exposed.
Outside is better than inside. Well-ventilated is better than not. Emptier is better than packed. Of course, this doesn’t mean choose an alleyway, a vacant lot, or a cargo ship to meet. Balance danger from the virus with danger from everything else. Be creative when choosing a venue. Sure, lunch, dinner, a movie, or a show are the traditional venues. But maybe a walk in the park will make it easier to maintain social distancing.
Practice safe sex
People won’t stop having sex because of the pandemic, so educating yourself and your partner on safer ways to get intimate is an important step to take before moving forward. Ideally, you’ve already been in a committed social bubble with the other person for a while. This will allow you to be more physically intimate.