Photo Credit Prostock-studio.

COVID-19 has enhanced our need for social connection while making it more difficult to do so. But even in lockdown, people are still looking for love. Many single Americans have been more intentional about whom they date, are having deeper conversations, and are spending more quality time with new partners.

“We are hard wired to connect with other people. It is in our DNA to connect. Research has shown that the single most important factor for people who live the longest was connections to other people. families, friends, and community,” said Jennifer Berman, MD, MS, a specialist in female sexual medicine.

Even with the vaccine, the pandemic and subsequent safety measures aren’t going away anytime soon. That’s why Berman encourages people to figure out how to safely date.

Here are 6 tips to date during the Coronavirus crisis.

1. Have the “COVID talk”

When you first start dating someone new, you usually consider their hobbies, common interests and politics to figure out if you’re a good match. Now, there’s a new level of compatibility added in: the approach to COVID-19 safety. Ask questions from jump. Are they around a lot of people? What are the restrictions at their job? Do they go to restaurants, clubs (gasp) and other public spaces? Basically, you’re trying to assess your risk of getting sick if you start a relationship

2. Connect virtually

As tempting as it may be to immediately hook up in person, during a pandemic, it’s best to connect virtually first. Plan date nights, cook together, watch movies together, or just have long conversations over a coffee or cocktails. Berman says taking it slow is actually leading to more intentional and deeper conversations with potential partners because they are putting in effort.

3. Set expectations about meeting up

Once the virtual meetings have gone well and you’ve mutually decided that it’s time to meet in person, set some ground rules on how you will interact first. It can be very problematic if you go into the first meeting with very different expectations. After all, if you are thinking “stay at least six feet apart at all times” and the other person is thinking “have wild unbridled sex,” things may be quite awkward when you finally do meet. It is possible to still meet up with your quarantine boo. If you’re brave enough to venture out, instead of crowded bars, consider outside dates, picnics in the park. If you do head to dinner, opt for places that have outdoor seating.

Photo Credit Prostock-studio.

4. Choose a date location where you can socially distance.

When it comes to Covid-19 coronavirus risk, remember the key factors are the length of time that you are exposed to the virus and the amount of virus that’s present. Assume that the other person may be infected, and choose a venue that can reduce both the amount and time that you are exposed. Outside is better than inside. Well-ventilated is better than not. Emptier is better than packed. Of course, this doesn’t mean choose an alleyway, a vacant lot, or a cargo ship to meet. Balance danger from the virus with danger from everything else. Be creative when choosing a venue. Sure, lunch, dinner, a movie, or a show are the traditional venues. But maybe a walk in the park will make it easier to maintain social distancing.

5. Plan for sex.

Planning for sex doesn’t mean sending an Outlook or Google calendar invitation that says “Sex 7 pm EST to 7:05 pm EST” and asks the respondent to click “Yes, No, or Maybe.” Instead, it means that you should decide how much trust should be earned before taking that next step.

6. Avoid the ex

For some people, the pandemic has presented an additional layer of emotional confusion. Since it’s so difficult to meet new people, several people are opting for the ex, thinking it’s better to navigate pandemic safety with someone you already trust? Berman says it’s not a good idea to reignite a relationship that previously ended. Restarting things with an ex could potentially lead to mixed expectations about the relationship this time around or could negatively affect the progress you’ve both made since the breakup.


ONLINE DATING

Online dating apps were popular before the pandemic but they’ve exploded during the pandemic.

15% increase in new subscribers over the second quarter of 2020. 

Apps like Hinge and Bumble also added in-app video chats to help with socially distant dating and they’ve noticed a new trend. Others offer in-app virtual events and some have done away with their distance filters. 


PANDEMIC DATING LINGO

People dating during the pandemic have been forced to adjust to a new normal, that includes getting up-to-date on a whole new lingo. We’ve pulled together some of the most popular.

Zombie-ing – a cold form of ghosting

Zumping – getting dumped over a Zoom call

Corona-zoned –  when a physical relationship with someone is put off because one or both people don’t want to catch or spread the virus, with the couple opting to keep the relationship socially distanced

Lockblocking – cancelling or rescheduling a date if lockdown rules and restrictions ruin plans for a date

On-nomi – drinking together online

FODA – fear of dating again, usually used by people who have been ‘out of the game’ since the pandemic began

Quarantine bae – dating exclusively during the pandemic

Quarantionship – a relationship that started during lockdown and developed virtually.

Smugsolation – flaunting a flourishing relationship all over social media during this difficult time

“Language evolves as cultural shifts emerge and people seek new words to communicate their environment, feelings and behavior. Dating culture was already taking place online, but the pandemic pushed singletons everywhere towards apps, video dating and socially distanced courtship.”

Linguistics Specialist, Jennifer Dorman