How to Date Safely During COVID-19
It’s been over a year since the pandemic began, and still “the new normal” that everyone’s talking about feels anything but. At Coffee Meets Bagel we don’t have all the answers — even when it comes to dating. But we do know that, normal or not, the CMB Community is finding safe ways to date. (And by date, we mean *actual* dates, not that dead-end texting stuff.)
If you’re ready to meet but still unsure where to start, well hey, that’s normal too. Let’s figure out what works for you.
What dates are safe in your area?
Keep in mind that COVID-19 spreads more effectively than your average cold or flu, making you vulnerable even if your potential date isn’t coughing or sneezing. Simply sharing the same space puts you at risk, especially if you’re not keeping at least 6 feet apart.
To determine whether you should give distanced dates a try or stick to virtual, start by asking yourself these questions:
- What are my local regulations concerning COVID-19? (E.g. County risk level and rules on group gatherings)
- What do my personal boundaries look like? Do I have or anyone I come in close contact with have any preexisting conditions or health risks to consider?
- Am I ready to give something new like virtual dates a try, or do I feel more comfortable waiting to date socially distanced?
Once you’ve settled on what’s safe for you in your area, check out the tips below to make the most of your dates.
If you’re giving virtual dates a try…
One thing we’ve learned from the pandemic? You don’t have to leave your house (or change out of your comfy pants) to have a great first date. Here are some ways you can successfully date from home.
1. Set your boundaries
If you don’t feel safe meeting up for socially distanced dates, that’s totally OK! Just be upfront about your comfort level with your matches, and ask where they’re at in return. If they’re OK to move forward strictly virtual, then you’re golden — suggest a phone call, Facetime, or Zoom meetup.
But if they’re not super into it, don’t feel pressured to change your plans. Let them know you’re just not ready to move beyond virtual dating, and that you understand if they’d prefer moving forward with someone who is.
2. Get creative with date ideas
So, it’s time for your first virtual date. Feel free to keep it casual with a phone call or a Facetime, and just see where the conversation takes you. Or, you can think outside of the box with some next-level virtual date ideas.
Take a virtual stroll through The Met and do your best art critic impersonations. If you’re a Mario Kart fiend, challenge them to a game night. Bottom line, you can explore your interests together from your own homes.
3. Set yourself up for success
In theory, a virtual date is kind of awkward. In practice? Honestly, not so much — or at least not any more awkward than what comes with your typical first date. And we’re all practically Zoom experts at this point, so that’s a big plus.
Keep your virtual rendezvous as smooth as possible with these tricks:
- Natural light is a gamechanger, so find a spot by a window. A clip-on ring light also works in a pinch!
- Keep a drink handy, whether it’s water, coffee, or wine — it gives you something to do with your hands.
- If you have housemates, let them know what time you’re meeting to avoid distracting background interruptions.
If you’re giving distanced dates a try…
Going on in-person dates doesn’t mean you have to compromise your safety. Let’s talk about ways you can get to know your match out in the real world during COVID-19.
1. Make sure your match is on the same page
Even if you’re OK with in-person meet-ups in your area, your match might feel differently. So it’s best to ask instead of assuming when it comes to in-person dates.
If you’re both ready to meet in real life, set some boundaries first. For example, are they on board with wearing a mask for your date? Have they been practicing social distancing in other areas of their lives?
If your match isn’t comfortable with in-person dating or they have different views on boundaries, be honest about how you feel. That way, you can move on to potential partners who better fit your needs.
2. Get some fresh air
So, you’re ready to meet your match out in the real world! Our suggestion: head to a local coffee shop, grab your drinks to-go, and wander around the block. Bonus points if there’s a park nearby.
If you’re in the mood for something more traditional, like dinner, that’s still on the table. WHO recommends you avoid the three Cs: spaces that are closed, crowded, and involve close contact, so look for a restaurant that offers outdoor seating. For extra peace of mind, call ahead to ask about their capacity limits, and whether you and your date will be distanced from others.
3. Take the right precautions
We’re sure you have a dazzling smile, but embrace the face mask for your socially distanced dates. Even if you plan on keeping six feet apart, WHO suggests you keep your masks up when you can.
What about physical contact? We don’t recommend it — but if you’ve hit it off with a match and you’re considering it, you should have a serious conversation with them first. Getting tested for COVID-19 is a good next step as well, but don’t let negative test results give you a false sense of security. You could have unknowingly been exposed a few days before the test, but not enough time has passed for it to show up yet.
Alternatively, you can begin to build emotional intimacy while social distancing. Here are some ways to bond from 6 feet apart:
- Try a question card deck so you can ask deeper questions and skip some of the superficial banter.
- Loan them that comfort book you always turn to (Talk about trust, right?)
- Swap Spotify playlists for different moods, like Monday Morning Vibes or That First Date Feel.
While COVID-19 has presented daters everywhere with some new challenges and what’s “normal” still isn’t quite-so-normal, it’s nice to know that some things are still the same: Honest communication and the willingness to put yourself out there go a long way.
Those practices plus these tips on how to safely navigate dating during a pandemic mean you can still find your person — whether you’re safe at home or safe on a socially distanced date.