Romance During a Pandemic? It’s Happening And Here’s How

A virus is in the air…but so is love. The pandemic can’t kill our most romantic tendencies, but putting yourself out there is only half the equation, being safe matters too.

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.

Finger of woman pushing heart icon on screen in mobile smartphone application. Online dating app.
Source: Getty

A Very Brief Overview

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.

First date during a pandemic. They enjoy their love, applying all protection measures and wearing protective masks and gloves.
Source: Getty

So You Met Someone, Now What?

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:

  1. Body language. It’s tough to read body language through a computer screen, and, when so much of what we say to each other is actually unsaid communication, it’s worth tapping out your ratty sweatpants or yoga pants for a pair of “hard pants” and an actual gathering.
  2. More to talk about. Okay, picture this. You’re all excited for your first Zoom date; you’ve put a nice enough shirt on your top half (but still have those pesky sweatpants on bottom); you think, ‘this is awesome! I’ve already covered the small talk with this person I like in chat form. Now for the real conversations.’ But what is there really to say to one another? At least if you’re out and about, you can talk about the natural beauty of the surroundings or why that dog you passed was so cute.
Young man video-chatting a woman on a distance date.
Source: Getty

So You Met In-Person, Now What?

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?

Shot of a young woman using a laptop and headphones on the sofa at home listening to a playlist her significant other made.
Source: Getty

Curate a Playlist Together

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.

Posting a postcard in a old school red mailbox.
Source: Getty

Send Handwritten Letters

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.

Man seasoning food at home kitchen having fun, while video-chatting his date.
Source: Getty

Have a Virtual Cooking Competition

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!

Wrappin’ It Up

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.

A screenshot of a social media poll; 100% of participants did not find romance.

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!

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