Leave it to humanity. An economy-crippling, death-causing, system-stressing, life-upending global pandemic and we still find time for romance. And that’s a good thing. We’re social creatures that like to mix and mingle. There’s no denying everyone needs a break from the big stresses (elections, jobs, sickness, to name just a few) to focus on the little stresses: does they/she/he like me, what should I wear for a zoom date, can I take my mask off to sip a drink, etc. etc.
A lot of ground has already been covered in the news about the resurgence in dating; numerous articles emerged, mostly in May and June, touting the proper way to distance date, whether that’s outdoors masked up or over Zoom.
But here’s the thing: all those articles loved to point out how the stakes and expectations are lower now with the pandemic for dating. Now just a few months, and a few scary spikes in cases, later we have to recognize that we’re most likely in this for the long haul. Unfortunate, but true.
All of which means the pandemic, as much as it’s still a valid excuse for a lot of issues, probably won’t cut it as the reason you showed up for your first social distancing date in flip flops and sweatpants with a hole in the crotch. Well, never fear, I’m here to provide an update on how to date during a pandemic.
At this point, you know as well as I how you’re meeting people: apps. There are the classics of course, like Tinder, Hinge, OKCupid, Match, and probably a dozen or so more. The list continues to grow and shift and undulate, not unlike a map of ongoing Covid-19 outbreaks (nailing those pandemic metaphors all day long).
What determines the best app for a certain age group is constantly changing. To paraphrase everyone’s favorite sorta bad-boy Ferris Bueller: the life of dating apps moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and swipe around once in a while, you could miss it.
So I’m going to hold off on making any specific app recommendations simply because there are so many possibilities out there and I don’t want to presume anyone’s sexual identity or preferences. Suffice to say the options are out there. And suffice to say the people you want to meet are out there too. You just need to start looking.
Ahhh, young love. Not sure about that yet? How about: ahhh, young uncertain affections. Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. But still it can be tough to know what the logical next step is in the pandemic dating game.
Really, it all depends on the level of risk you’re willing to take. If you, and your match, are comfortable hanging out unmasked in public or one-on-one without adequate testing then all I’ll say is best of luck, but really wear a mask!, and leave it at that.
Now, for those of you still reading and serious about your public health, let’s continue. While you can jump straight from dating app chat to Skype, FaceTime, or Zoom, I’m a big believer in face-to-face, or mask-to-mask in this case, contact. If you’re physically able and in a proximate location to your prospective mate I always think it’s a good idea to meet in-person. Why? Well, for a few reasons:
With the current restrictions and our own varying degrees of safety it’s hard to keep a relationship, especially a new one, alive and kicking. So now you’ve met someone a few times in person and like them, and it’s fairly clear they like you, or at least interested in continuing to see you, how do you keep things fresh knowing many activities are shut down or closed?
This Washington Post article makes an excellent suggestion: curate a music playlist together. Maybe you’re both avid music fans with wildly divergent taste, maybe you both like similar things, maybe you’re more a Section.80 type of person and they’re all about To Pimp a Butterfly. Whatever the differences and similarities, curating a shared playlist will spark conversation and serve as an excellent socially distanced activity.
Any wordsmiths among us? Take the vintage approach and send postcards or letters to your hopeful significant other. It’s fun, if you don’t mind a hand-cramp or two, and can slow the course of communication, which creates a juicy anticipation as you wait for each response. Plus added bonus: you support the USPS, which is always good.
So you’re apart and you’re tired of just sitting on FaceTime talking about the same old things over and over again. Why not make things a bit competitive with a virtual cooking competition?
Pick the same recipe or dish, or if you both believe you have the best lasagna recipe then go head-to-head that way. Stay on FaceTime throughout the whole process, chatting about this or that aspect of the cooking, or whatever you want, as you wait and chop.
Disclaimer: this is not an opportunity for you to best or defeat the person you like! The competition is just an excuse to do an activity together, but apart. Healthy competitiveness is cool, overzealous moaning about rules and flavors is not.
Besides, since you’re both in separate locations you can’t even taste-test whose recipe or dish came out better anyway. The purpose is to bond with one another over the stovetop. As much as I want to support the USPS, please don’t send your lasagna through the mail.
Bonus: If you cook most of your meals in the microwave and miss bars, try making cocktails over FaceTime with one another as well!
Dating is always tough, now more than ever. But the opportunities obviously still exist. You can be safe and have fun; you just need to be a bit more creative about your dates. Here at Coastline College, our Romance Research Division, a highly scientific, totally existing group, took a highly scientific social media poll that indicated that while people are going on dates, 100% (emphasis mine) have not found true romance during the pandemic, which is sort of sad.
Use this as a primer right after you’ve met someone new, someone who gets those romantic thoughts churning, or, for couples dating long distance throughout the pandemic, as a new set of activities to try together, but apart. Love is a fickle thing. But dating during the pandemic doesn’t have to be. Good luck, love bugs!