If you’re dating during the pandemic, it’s important to consider your physical safety as well as your emotional health.
The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the way we date. To avoid infection and comply with lockdown restrictions, many people put dating on hold or turned to online dating at the beginning of the pandemic.
Although many feel safe enough to resume in-person dating, others prefer to stick to virtual dating due to ongoing safety concerns.
The pandemic is not yet over, and it’s important to consider your physical health as well as your emotional needs while dating.
Before you begin dating, consider what level of contact you’re comfortable with.
Would you prefer virtual dates only? Would you only meet up if masked and outdoors? If you meet someone you like, would you consider making them a part of your pandemic bubble?
Your level of contact might be determined by your own health status (for example, whether you’re considered high risk). It can also depend on what you feel ready for.
Or, some folks may prefer to date only based on their vaccination status exclusively and that’s OK! If so, you may want to mention your status at the start of your dating adventures.
If you’re anxious about the idea of meeting new people in person, be gentle with yourself.
The pandemic has been traumatic for many of us. As a result, dating during COVID-19 can bring up some anxiety.
Rather than filling up your schedule with romantic prospects, you can ease into it and reassess your safety and anxiety levels every so often.
Q: How do I start with online dating during COVID-19?
A: According to COVID-19 pandemic research, a huge number of people joined dating apps during the stay-at-home orders. Online dating is a great way to meet new people, whether you’re comfortable with in-person meetups or not.
Write an honest, comprehensive profile that encapsulates your personality. Be upfront about what you’re looking for: A long-term relationship? Virtual dating? Casual meetups?
Communicate your boundaries concerning COVID-19. If you’re not keen to meet up in person, or if you’re only comfortable meeting with a vaccinated person, say that upfront.
If you’re ready to try a virtual date there are plenty of creative and novel ideas to choose from.
Pre-pandemic safety rules still apply! If you’re meeting up with someone you met online, it’s best to tell a friend where you’re going (you could share your GPS location) and who you’re meeting.
Q: Where to go on a fun (and physically distant) in-person date during COVID-19?
A: Outdoor dates are great, provided the area is safe enough and the weather is conducive to the activity you have planned.
This could include:
- a walk in the park or on the beach
- an outdoor picnic
- a hike or swim
- a self-guided tour of your town or city
If you’re going on an indoor date, you might want to check the facility’s COVID-19 protocols first. Some art galleries and museums might be great for this.
If you’re not in one another’s “pandemic bubble,” consider whether you’re comfortable being maskless on the date and discuss it in advance. This will help you plan a date that you’re both comfortable with.
Q: How safe is intimacy with a partner during the COVID-19 pandemic?
A: Research from 2021 suggests that COVID-19 has impacted the sex lives of many people — and a 2020 study even suggests that it could be for the better, by broadening sexual experiences beyond in-person rendezvous.
Spending time with anyone in person does introduce the risk of a COVID-19 infection, especially if you’re maskless and indoors.
However, there are ways to reduce the likelihood of infecting your partner or being infected. For example, vaccinations lower your chance of infection, as does avoiding large crowds and people who may have been exposed.
Here’s a guide to maintaining sexual intimacy — in all its forms — during a pandemic.
Q: What if you’re ghosted (virtually)?
A: Research suggests that
There are many reasons why people ghost others. Sure, they might be discourteous. It could also be that they feel overwhelmed, or that they’re afraid to hurt you.
Bear in mind, too, that many of us have gone through a lot during the pandemic: we’ve faced economic anxiety, grief, fear, and political uncertainty. The person who ghosted you might find it difficult to cope with the idea of dating again.
While ghosting isn’t a great way to end a relationship, try to remember that it isn’t a reflection of your worth or desirability.
Q: What if I developed FOGO (fear of going out) during coronavirus?
A: If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the idea of leaving the house, you’re not alone.
The American Psychological Association’s Stress in America poll showed that around half of respondents feel uneasy socializing in person. This, plus general dating anxiety, can make romance difficult.
Try to be patient and gentle with yourself. You can go out for short periods at a time and slowly build up confidence.
During the pandemic, some people have developed agoraphobia, an anxiety disorder characterized by an intense fear of being in public or crowded spaces. Fortunately, agoraphobia is treatable.
Whether you have agoraphobia or some low level anxieties about going out, you might benefit from seeing a therapist. Take a look at our guide to finding a therapist.
As the pandemic continues, it’s important to consider how socializing safely looks for you. This includes dating. Although dating during the pandemic might be anxiety-inducing, it can still be safe, comfortable, and fun.
Remember to adhere to COVID-19 safety protocols and discuss your boundaries with your date in advance (COVID-19-related and otherwise).