During this pandemic, we have all been putting our lives on hold in one way or another. What started out feeling like a two-week inconvenience, now feels never-ending. It has been inconvenient and frustrating for most of us and, for some, downright devastating. As the pandemic wore on over the summer, some people decided there were no real dating options and were too discouraged to even try. The social isolation and subsequent depressive symptoms and anxiety have worn them down. It’s been even worse for those living alone and working from home. Most humans need social interaction for their mental health. Ten months into this pandemic, most of us have exhausted all our emotional reserves and energy. We are running on empty. There is hope with vaccines, but it will be many months before it is over. We have learned from our clients and dating sites that people are indeed connecting and finding safe and unique ways to do so.
So how do we date safely during a pandemic? It may be more realistic than you realize. Dating sites can absolutely be a COVID-safe way to start meeting people. Many dating sites and apps are suggesting different ways to date safely, and some have options to share your boundaries with respect to meeting in-person. It is important to stick within your comfort zone both with COVID and intimacy boundaries. You’re allowed to start dating with the understanding you are not comfortable meeting in-person yet or you want masks and social distancing. Establishing your in-person comfort zone early allows you to learn about one another in a more carefree way. Many clients, men and women, have described relief at not having to maneuver the intimacy dance of first kisses, etc. and to be able to focus on what they enjoy and have in common.
The silver lining for dating in a pandemic has been the opportunity to get to know someone slowly, over time, in a way we might consider almost old-fashioned. We’ve been led to believe the average person has three dates before sexual intimacy: that’s right, three. Nothing wrong with that and everyone has their own guidelines, but it means we often accelerate or skip past the ‘getting to know you’ phase. This discovery period is often the most exciting phase, a period of depth and vulnerability that creates the foundation of human connection. With a potential partner, we only get that opportunity once.
Some of the dating tips we have learned from clients for those first dates have been fantastic. In addition to the typical texting, telephone calls and Zoom meetings, they have been successful at:
- Board games – each moving the pieces their date made on their own board
- Watching a movie together – Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and other services allow for a simultaneous watch party.
- Baking – sharing the same recipe to make the same dish
- Zoom dinners – placing the computer where the other person would sit and dining ‘together’
- Sexting – self-explanatory
- Walks – with masks and social distancing. Facing forward while walking and talking without direct eye contact can make some people more comfortable with intimate discussions
- Picnics – each bring your own blanket and food, and chat away 6 feet apart
- There is a huge increase in blogs and articles about creative dating that will bring a smile and new ideas
The key is to find out early what your potential date’s boundaries are and see if your comfort zones align. If they don’t align, no harm no foul, just good practice for the next potential date. Once you find a like-minded partner, the sky is the limit. Stay true to your boundaries and HAVE FUN!
Photo by Gabriella Clare Marino on Unsplash