Meeting a prospective romantic partner is complicated enough in the best of times but throw a pandemic into the mix and you've got yourself an even bigger dating dilemma. Or do you? If you're single and ready to mingle, read on for our guide to dating safely during COVID-19.
Is dating during COVID-19 safe?
Completely abstaining from dating may be challenging for many. As humans, we’re hard-wired to connect with other people. It’s in our nature. Plus, if you haven’t caught on yet, the COVID-19 pandemic is not a here today, gone tomorrow type of situation, so it may not be realistic for some to stop dating indefinitely. (Recent spikes in new subscribers on dating websites show just how true this really is.) Fortunately, there are a number of precautions you can take to date safely as we adapt to the new normal.
How can I stay safe while dating during the pandemic?
For starters, some dating apps have added features to do a lot of the safety-related work for you. Bumble, for example, allows users to add an indicator to their profiles to show the type of date they’re comfortable with: virtual, socially distanced or socially distanced with a mask.
While it may feel a little unusual at first, consider keeping your first date(s) virtual, either over the phone or video chat. This will not only allow you a risk-free interaction with someone who may or may not be taking COVID-19 precautions seriously, but you can also learn a lot about their personality and decide whether they’re worth investing more time in. Nothing wrong with being a little selective!
Worried about online awkwardness? Get creative with your virtual dates to keep the conversation going smoothly. Order takeout from the same restaurant and eat together via video chat, watch movies simultaneously in separate locations or play a game together online.
What about meeting in person?
When you’re ready to meet in person, talk about your views toward social distancing and mask-wearing to make sure you and the other person on the same page. Don't make assumptions about how they feel. After all, respecting your date’s attitudes toward safety is the best way to show them that you care.
Many standard date destinations are closed or very limited at the moment, but there are still plenty of alternative options that are safe and date-worthy – romantic even. Have a picnic in the park, enjoy a cup of coffee together at an outdoor café or explore a botanical garden. You might even plan a late afternoon bike ride. (Bonus points if you watch the sunset together!)
Just remember to meet outdoors, stay six feet apart and wear a face covering, even if you’re tempted to go mask-less to show off your killer smile. If you are able to stay distant at more than six feet apart while outdoors, it’s okay for you to remove your mask for up to fifteen minutes.
For more information, visit www.ochsner.org/vaccine or call the COVID-19 hotline at 1-844-888-2772 or 504-842-0201.
Let's talk about sex.
Eventually, you’ll probably want to hold hands, kiss or have sex. But before you do, it’s essential to have a candid conversation to make sure that you’re both ready for this next step, which is riskier than usual during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We get it. “I really want to bubble with you,” sounds a little unusual. But who knows – it could be one of the most romantic things that you say during this strange time. And for the record, we’re not talking about taking a bubble bath. Rather, “bubbling” means going into a social bubble together.
A social bubble is created when you agree to limit closer contact to just those within the bubble. This bubble should be small enough for this to be practical (no more than 10 people), and everyone in it has to agree to follow strict safety precautions when engaging with others in the outside world.
Once you’ve been in a committed social bubble with the other person for two weeks, you can safely become more physically intimate.
Alternatively, some couples self-isolate for two weeks before becoming intimate to make it less likely to pass the virus to each another. Others get tested for COVID-19 and feel comfortable being physical with someone who tested negative. It should be noted, though, that negative COVID-19 tests can provide a false sense of security, as they are not always accurate, so we don’t recommend basing your decision to get intimate on test results.
Whichever route you choose, remember that being open, honest and communicative is key. And, if things work out, what an interesting love story you’ll have to tell friends and future grandkids!