It’s been a long few months, and for many singles, it’s been a lonely few months. People are getting antsy and eager to dip their toes back in the dating pool, and really, can you blame them?
Unfortunately, coronavirus is still a threat to our health, which makes “normal” dating out of the question. For the indefinite future, masks and social distancing are the new norm, and if you want to be safe (which you should) this will be the norm for dating too.
I know this is hard for 21st-century dating, when it’s common to kiss (and more) on the first date. But we all have a responsibility to protect ourselves and the people around us to stop the spread of this deadly virus.
Whether you’re going to the supermarket or going on a date, we have to follow these regulations if we want COVID-19 to stop ravaging the country. And remember, in some states or cities, it’s literally the law to wear a mask.
Singles aren’t going to just text and send selfies back and forth forever, however, and as more places are re-opening, people who’ve been flirting online have a chance to finally meet up in person. But remember, just because things might be reopening, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe to enjoy them.
Tips for Healthy Summer Social Distancing
Here are some tips for social distancing dates that will keep your romantic life spicy this summer:
With any form of online dating, COVID or not, it’s a good idea to Facetime first to see if this Romeo or Juliet really is who they say they are. Unfortunately, nothing (not even a pandemic) will stop people from catfishing. If the person refuses to Facetime or video chat on another platform: big red flag. Plus, talking out loud to each other and seeing each others’ body language will give you a better idea of if you want to actually go through with meeting this person in real life and taking a health risk, even a small one.
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Talk about exposure and risk
It’s only fair, and the right thing to do, to let the person know if you’ve been exposed to COVID. If you’ve been exposed and you know it — you shouldn’t be going on dates — even if you’re going to be wearing a mask and keeping your distance. Be open with the other person so you can both discuss the risks — because wearing masks and keeping a distance still doesn’t necessarily mean a date is risk-free. If you’ve been in a large crowd or been exposed to someone who has tested positive or become symptomatic, please get tested and self-quarantine. Plus, disregarding your potential partner, by going out in public, you risk exposure. The two of you should have an open conversation weighing the risks and benefits of meeting versus not.
It’s okay to acknowledge the awkwardness
Many people feel awkward with dating to begin with, and adding in a weird pandemic safety layer can make people feel even more awkward and nervous. Sometimes just acknowledging this fact at the beginning of the date, or even before the date, can help. You can say, “To be honest, I’m feeling a bit nervous now since I haven’t been on a date in months and this all feels so foreign, but I’m excited to get to know you!” or “Wow, never thought I’d have to wear a mask or carry around so much hand sanitizer on a first date!” Acknowledging the weirdness of the situation can help break the ice. One bright spot, discussing safety and boundaries early is good practice for other difficult conversations such as around safe sex and consent.
Ideas for Summer Distancing Dates
Now that you have some tips for dealing with dating during COVID-19, here are some summer socially distant date ideas:
1. Have a picnic
Wishing you could have a romantic dinner date? Head to a park on a nice evening and DIY it. You can get takeout and bring it along, or if you’re a good cook, now’s your time to shine! If the park doesn’t have restrictions on alcohol, you can even bring a bottle of wine, beer, or even champagne.
2. Do something active
Do you both have an active hobby you’ve been doing throughout quarantine? Well, maybe you can do it together. Biking, running, skateboarding, rollerblading, take your pick. Try to pick somewhere with bike paths that are wide enough so that you won’t be on top of each other (while that might be ideal for dates at other times, it’s not so right ideal now).
3. Go for a hike
If you’re both active nature lovers, choose a trail and go for a hike. Depending on the time commitment you can allocate (and your fitness level) you can choose a trail that’s perfectly suited for the date. Hiking is an active activity that will lend itself to conversation better than biking or skateboarding. Plus, you can pack some snacks and enjoy the gorgeous vistas during breaks at lookouts along the way.
4. Outdoor dining and bars
Some states may have indoor dining available, but if you want to be extra safe, stick to outdoor dining. This is a better way to enjoy the summer weather, anyway, right? You can also do this for outdoor bars. Many bars have new makeshift outdoor seating or take-away windows for drinks. You could even go to a rooftop bar. Cocktails on a roof at sunset? Super romantic — even during a pandemic.
5. The beach
Pack your beach chairs and blankets and head to your favorite beach. Find a remote patch to park yourselves and keep your chairs at a safe distance from one another at the beach, and then let the chilling begin. You can also swim, surf, or bodyboard to show off your skills to your new sweetie.
6. Drive-in movies or concerts
Since traditional movies and concerts are out of the question, try this alternative that seems to be popping up everywhere. We recommend going in two separate cars for obvious viral transmission reasons, but once you’re there, you can park right next to each other and roll your windows down, or bring some folding chairs to set up in front of your bumpers, tailgate style.
See? Your love life doesn’t have to be put on hold during coronavirus, it’ll just look a bit different. You can still have fun on dates, you‘ll just have to adapt to the new normal.
Keep doing your part in staying safe and continue being responsible. Always remember, it’s not just about you — it’s about everybody. The more we all follow the rules, the faster we can get back to “normal” life and “normal” dating. But in the meantime, get used to more eye contact and less mouth-to-mouth contact as you really get to know your new beau or belle.
Talkspace articles are written by experienced mental health-wellness contributors; they are grounded in scientific research and evidence-based practices. Articles are extensively reviewed by our team of clinical experts (therapists and psychiatrists of various specialties) to ensure content is accurate and on par with current industry standards.
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