Life as we knew it paused when the pandemic appeared, and that may have included your attempts at mashing lips, falling in love and everything else that lands under the broad umbrella of dating. After a few months of quarantine, you might be feeling especially alone, antsy and ready to get back out there. But of course, the pandemic is still at large, and seeing others, let alone kissing them on the mouth, should be treated accordingly. So follow along — from at least six feet away, please — as we guide you through the new world of dating during a pandemic.
For starters, Jagdish Khubchandani, associate chair and professor of health science at Ball State University, says you should limit who you date to known acquaintances and colleagues, rather than randoms on dating apps. “One needs to understand this person’s behavior and history during the pandemic to ascertain if they’ve had a lot of exposure to people or had many sexual encounters,” he emphasizes. “That communication needs to be a smart and tricky investigation. One has to weigh the benefits and risks all the time. There’s no safe space or place for dating.”
In fact, Khubchandani suggests avoiding exposure to the general public altogether, adding that “open spaces are better than cluttered corners.” He also suggests using technology to connect with others, rather than seeing them in person, if possible. “Finally,” he says, “people need to use multiple methods of physical and mental exercise to avoid COVID-related psychological health problems and isolation.”
All of which is to say, from an infectious disease perspective, dating remains a highly volatile activity — one that you should continue to avoid if you can. But as Khubchandani says, “I also acknowledge that, for individuals, it’s a basic drive and a need that warrants attention.”
Therefore, if you know the person and their quarantine history well, and if you can maintain space from others while you date, you can maybe make it work. For some advice on the sorts of dates that might fit the bill, I reached out to celebrity matchmaker Alessandra Conti. Here are her suggestions:
Visit a Farmer’s Market
Conti says hitting up a farmer’s market, then taking your spoils to the park, could make a good date that still follows social distancing guidelines. “Farmer’s markets are open,” she notes. “Pick out a few of your favorite foods, and bring a blanket so you can enjoy them together in a nearby park.”
Be a Tourist in Your City
“There are so many artsy neighborhoods in all major cities, so now is a wonderful time to finally check yours out,” Conti says. “Make sure your phone is at full charge so you can Google every little art piece and minor landmark to make the art tour come alive.”
Strap on Some Rollerblades
“If you live near a beach, this is a really fun date activity to do while social distancing,” Conti says. “You can rent rollerblades at any bike (or rollerblade) shop, and enjoy. Make sure to bring sanitizer and wipes so you can wipe everything down, but then you can enjoy the outdoors and some fun with your partner.” Just try not to fall.
Hit up the Drive-In
“Drive-in movie theaters are back in vogue,” says Conti. “Bring some homemade popcorn, and curl up under the stars with your date.”
If all of that sounds kinda lame, well, you could always just invite them to chill on the couch in the safety of your own apartment. Just make sure you allow some fresh air in there so they don’t walk in on three months of quarantine stank.