Since March 2020, the coronavirus pandemic has upended people’s lives. More people are working from home, and interactions outside of work are limited. 

If even a simple trip to the grocery store is now a complicated exercise in strategic planning, what is going on a date during COVID like? 

Whether you’re planning a first date or are deep in a relationship, this guide will help you plan your next romantic adventure—safely.

COVID Dating Options

If you’re dating during COVID, you have three main options:

  • Phone dates
  • Virtual dates
  • In-person dates

When the country shut down in the early spring, the popularity of phones and virtual dates rose. As restrictions eased, people gradually ventured out. For some people, this meant a return to in-person dating—with modifications. Others, however, continued to feel more comfortable interacting at a greater physical distance.

Thus, the first question to ask yourself and your partner is “How comfortable are you with meeting in person?” If you are willing—or even prefer—to meet in person, are you comfortable with inside activities? Is your partner?

Answering these questions, in turn, requires you to consider the following:

  • Your own and your partner’s behavior
  • Your own and your partner’s risk factors
  • The possibility that you or your partner have been or will be exposed to COVID

If you or a partner is considered high-risk, your discussions and preferences might look different than if both of you are young and healthy. If a partner has recently been exposed to someone with COVID or if he has recently shown symptoms, an in-person date is ill-advised. You may also feel less than comfortable meeting in-person if a potential partner is more casual with precautions than you prefer to be.

Deciding How to Date: The Importance of Honest Communication

As you and your partner discuss these initial questions, it’s essential to be honest. If you take a short-term perspective, this can be difficult. In the short term, you want to make a good first impression, and you don’t want to offend a potential partner. Under typical dating rules, it can also feel awkward to share personal health information early in a relationship.

However, dating can be a long-term proposition. Without honest communication, a relationship is unlikely to last in the long term. In the era of COVID, moreover, dishonesty about risk factors, exposure, and personal behavior can have serious health consequences.

Thus, it’s important to reflect privately and honestly on your own priorities before discussing and agreeing to any arrangements with a partner.

The upshot to being forced into this kind of honest communication early in a relationship is that you and your partner have early opportunities to determine your compatibility.

For example, you and a potential partner may discover fundamental disagreements about the virus and masking. These disagreements, in turn, may underlie deeper philosophical, moral, or political disagreements. These disagreements need not be fatal to a relationship. However, the way you and your partner navigate them can reveal a great deal about your future.

If a partner can’t disagree with you respectfully on the subject of social distancing, for example, will he be able to respectfully disagree with you on other subjects? What do your partner’s beliefs say about his values and worldview? Are they compatible with yours?

Whether you date virtually or in-person, these are questions to consider as you begin a relationship. They are also questions to revisit as the relationship progresses.

Dating Virtually during COVID

If you and a new partner decide that a virtual date is the safest option, you’ll need to get creative as you get to know each other. Fostering intimacy and having fun in a virtual environment can be challenging, but it is possible.

Virtual first date activities might include chatting over dinner or drinks via Zoom or FaceTime. These quieter and more intimate settings are ideal for getting-to-know-you conversations. However, depending on your personality and your partner’s, they can also be awkward. 

If you find more active options more comfortable, you might consider attending a virtual class or trivia night with a partner.

Dating In-Person During COVID

Whether you’re dating virtually or in-person, your goals likely remain the same. Depending on your expectations for a relationship, they include building intimacy and having fun. Ideal dates strike the right balance between these goals by considering each partner’s personality.

If you’ve settled on in-person dating during the pandemic, your options still remain limited by social distancing requirements. Outdoor activities include walks, picnics, and patio dining.

In many regions of the country, indoor dining has resumed. Some smaller indoor establishments, like shops and art galleries, have also opened. Movie theaters and other large public venues remain limited.

Perhaps you feel comfortable indoors but only in smaller, private settings. If you already know a partner and feel comfortable, consider ordering takeout and meeting at one of your homes. In the absence of in-person productions, local and national arts organizations have expanded their virtual offerings. A live-streamed concert or theater performance can enhance a romantic night in.

If you and a partner opt for a public indoor venue, check and obey local regulations, and in any setting, obey CDC recommendations.

Also remember to advocate for yourself. If you feel more comfortable with a mask and prefer that your partner dons one as well, speak up. If you don’t feel comfortable dating in groups or with another couple, say so. Respect your boundaries, and expect your partner to do the same.

Keep in mind, moreover, that in-person dating revives the question of physical intimacy. Here again, you’ll need to have an honest conversation with your partner. Consider the following questions:

  • How soon do you each hope to be physically intimate?
  • What kinds of physical intimacy do you feel comfortable engaging in?
  • What precautions—against COVID or against more common concerns of STDs and unintended pregnancy—will you take?
  • Would you be more comfortable being physically intimate if you and your partner had a COVID test or a COVID antibody test? Are these feasible options for you?

These questions can help you and your partner plan a date that is intimate and fun while remaining comfortable and safe.

Final Considerations for Going on a Date During COVID

No one can predict the future, but many relationships begin with a future in mind. Giving some thought to the future is, thus, wise, especially when dating during COVID.

The global pandemic has undoubtedly changed the way people live their lives. Negative consequences include increased personal, professional, and economic stress. People, including potential partners, may not be their “best selves” during this pandemic.

The pandemic has also caused many people to reevaluate their lives and their values. These changes can be positive, but they involve uncertainty and can add stress to a relationship.

Finally, for good or bad, many people currently have more leisure time. Eventually, though, life will resume some semblance of normalcy. When it does, this leisure time will face renewed demands. Discussing how your relationship will navigate these changes can help you and your partner plan for a future together. 

And Then We Masked: Dating During COVID

Going on a date during COVID involves a host of new concerns from masks to limited activity options. Navigating these concerns can be stressful. However, it is possible to find love amid a global pandemic.

Having an honest discussion of the above question is the first step to COVID dating.

As your relationship develops, count on Kiss & Tell Magazine for advice. Subscribe to stay in the know.