During this difficult period, many people are struggling with a lack of socialization. When will you be able to get out of the house again? When will you be able to meet people, date, or have a relationship? Once you do start getting out again, you may have trouble deciding how to handle common interactions. It's incredibly difficult to date while remaining six feet apart!
Luckily, there are several strategies that you can use to continue dating even in the midst of difficult times. Consider some of these strategies to keep yourself and your partners safe in the midst of a crisis. While the current circumstances around the world may permanently change the face of dating, it may also have some unexpected advantages.
Take Advantage of the Shift in Dating App Usage
Dating app usage has certainly gone up in this age of social distancing and shelter in place orders. In fact, Tinder and Bumble, among other platforms, have noted an increase in both the number of people using the app and the length of time users spend messaging one another.
Dating apps make it easy to connect with people you might not otherwise have met, especially in an age when you cannot just get outside or visit a bar to meet someone. If you have suddenly found yourself with more time than usual on your hands, you can take the time to genuinely get to know someone through those messages. In many cases, you can build a genuine connection long before you take your conversation off the platform.
Slowdowns and shutdowns may have made it more difficult to connect with people in person, but they have also given you time. When you use a dating app, you don't have to rush to make a match or meet in person. Instead, you have time to genuinely connect and build that relationship before you decide what you want to do next. For many people, that means a better chance of finding love.
That increased time also makes it possible to better flesh out your profile and give a better idea of who you really are. While many people aim to put their best foot forward on dating sites, it's also easy to rush through creating your profile: choose a couple of great pictures, slap together a description, and move on. Now, you have time to fill in the details and share what makes you special. As a result, you may be better positioned to connect with potential matches than ever before.
Go On Virtual Dates
You've matched. You've chatted via an app. Maybe you've even exchanged phone numbers. Now what? Early in a relationship, virtual dates are a great way to get to know someone without needing to leave the comfort and safety of your home.
OkCupid has seen a 180% increase in FaceTime, Skype, and Zoom mentions on the platform. Many popular dating apps are also adding the ability to filter out people who aren't interested in virtual dates. What happens on a virtual date, exactly?
You get a chance to connect. Virtual dates often have fewer distractions. Instead, you can simply sit and chat, get to know one another's faces, and decide whether you're interested in one another based on compatibility. Sure, you can rule out adrenaline-filled first dates and other opportunities to increase that romantic spark between you, but you'll also find that you can talk without distraction, a great way to build a relationship and get to know one another.
You can enjoy many activities virtually. There are plenty of options for engaging in activities even from a distance. Date nights in a box can often be modified to allow you to enjoy a fun, getting-to-know-you activity even from a distance. You can choose to stream a movie together using a platform like Netflix Party, Metastream, or Watch2Gether. Get creative! You may be surprised by how deeply you can connect—and just how many things you can enjoy—even when you're unable to connect with people in person.
Deepen your connection as you grow closer. If you choose to continue video dates, rather than getting together in person, you can enhance those video dates. Discuss what you like and don't like in bed, explore together, and learn more about one another. You may be surprised by how those simple activities raise the physical interest between you and make it even more enjoyable once you're able to connect in person.
According to OkCupid users, 31% prefer to have some type of activity in mind: playing a game together virtually, for example. Another 29% like the idea of virtual dinner and drinks: each of you can eat your favorite food, and you can connect together over that meal. You can even get in the kitchen and cook together, just from your separate locations. 25% of OkCupid users would rather start with a simple video chat: that chance to connect and get a feel for compatibility. These video chat dates may remain highly popular even after social distancing measures end. Video dates, especially first dates, can take a lot of the pressure off of couples. You can learn quickly whether you're compatible, and you have an easy way out if the evening doesn't go according to plan.
Consider Progressing to In-Person Dates
Around the world, many regions are starting to open back up. Some people are able to start connecting with potential partners in person as well as from a distance.
What's safe? Can you kiss your partner? What about sex?
As you consider leaving the virtual world behind and connecting with a partner in person, take it slow. Think things through before you jump into that first date. Consider:
What is your comfort level? If you're relatively low-risk, have already had coronavirus and recovered, or have no close friends or family members who are high-risk, you may be more comfortable doing more things than someone who is high-risk or who lives in a household with people who are high risk. Before you start discussing potential date ideas, especially with a new partner, assess your personal comfort level.
Consider your partner's comfort level and lifestyle. Your partner may be more comfortable diving into in-person dates than you are. On the other hand, you may connect with a partner who is more concerned about staying healthy than you are. Talk to your partner about their comfort level before you start making plans. Also, consider your partner's lifestyle and whether it fits with your risk level. If you've connected with a medical professional working in a high-risk area, you may be less comfortable getting together in person than you are if you connect with someone who has worked from home since the crisis began.
Remember to make that first meeting in a public location. It's relatively easy to conceal personality flaws or potential warning signs over a virtual connection. Don't just jump into bringing your partner home with you, even if you feel as though you've had weeks or even months to connect through virtual dates! Instead, try some of these date ideas that will allow you to continue practicing social distancing from the general population even while connecting with one another.
- Visit a local park or the beach. You can go for a walk and be near other people — many of them eager to get outside again after weeks of sheltering indoors — while still having time and space to connect.
- Go out to a restaurant. As they reopen, many restaurants are offering indoor or outdoor seating options that will help you keep a distance from people other than your date. Conversely, head out for a picnic. You can pick out takeout from a great local restaurant or pack a picnic of your own and enjoy a meal without having to be in close proximity to other people.
- Consider what's still open in your area. Can you go ax throwing? Visit a pool as the weather warms up? Take a look at what's open in your area and how those businesses are practicing social distancing.
- Go for a hike or a bike ride. Head outside and see the sights in your local city--or, if you're in different cities, learn about your date's city.
Visit a local zoo. These large outdoor areas often make social distancing a relatively simple proposition, especially if you're just passively enjoying the animals, but it will give you something new to talk about and an adventure to go on together.
Keep talking about how you want to progress. Be honest with each other about your comfort levels and how much risk you're willing to take. If you and your partner are on the same page and are honest with each other about potential risks and contacts, you can continue to advance your relationship — eventually including kissing and even sex — without placing each other in undue danger.
Dating was difficult enough in the past. Maintaining social distancing and dealing with the other challenges of the current situation has made it even more difficult for many people to navigate. We can't help you find the perfect date, but we can help you connect with a new partner.