Covid Dating: How to Date During Covid-19 Pandemic in 2021?
How to date during the pandemic? Photo: KPBS

Spring is supposed to be romantic — enjoying long dinners on the patio at your corner cafe, introducing your new beau to friends at an outdoor concert, holding hands on an evening stroll ... except coronavirus. So, none of that is happening. And yet, people are still seeking love and connection.

In fact, dating apps like Tinder and Bumble have seen the length of user conversations and the number of messages increases since shelter-in-place orders went into effect.

But finding love right now feels kind of like the Wild West. The old rules don't really apply — if you have a good Zoom date, what's next? And if you're already in a relationship, great! But how do you hole up with someone 24/7 without going bananas?

It's Been a Minute host Sam Sanders got some timely advice all about managing love right now. Lane Moore, host of the comedy show Tinder Live and author of the memoir How to Be Alone, shares some tips for virtual dating in the age of social distancing.

(And for those maintaining a relationship during the pandemic, scroll down! We have a few tips on getting through this without biting your partner's head off.)

1. Be more selective and choose based on qualities that really matter

These days the personal qualities that will allow you to get closer to someone have to be more stringent than “looks like a movie star”, “has a nice car or clothing or both”, “isn’t carrying an ax” , “appears to be human” or “said ‘hello’ back to me.” That’s because, as Berman said, the stakes are much higher. Before the pandemic, your pre-date preparation may have included questions like “is my hair out of place”, “what clothes should I wear”, or “how many knock-knock jokes is too many?” Nowadays, as Berman urged, you have to add, “am I going to die?” Such a question may have been part of your standard pre-date questions before the pandemic. If so, then you probably were not being selective enough with your date choices, according to Forbes.

Of course, being selective doesn’t mean being too picky in the wrong way. It means knowing what is important to you and then checking to see if the other person meets those criteria. For example, why are you ruling people in and out based mainly on appearance when you keep saying that you want a smart and kind person?

Covid Dating: How to Date During Covid-19 Pandemic in 2021?
Photo: PBS

The challenge is you may either not know what you really want or be very poor at adhering to your real criteria. Great personality and kind heart may be really high on your list but then suddenly those biceps, that chest, or those legs keep getting in the way. Or maybe the guy or gal reminds you of that person whom you couldn’t have in high school, who is the opposite of your parents, or who is that movie star.

In many ways, the pandemic and social distancing may be doing you a favor and forcing you to sit quietly and think about what you want, what you really, really want, in the words of the Spice Girls.

“Immediate emotions can be a distortion of reality,” Berman explained. “Perception can get lost in the bar with alcohol.” Because alcohol is so helpful with decision-making, right?

“With the extra time this day, people may be taking more care to find what they really want,” Berman added. “Maybe this is a path towards higher success in marriages.” When the divorce rate is no better than the odds of getting tails on a coin flip, how much worse could it really get?

How to Find Love, Top Online Dating App during Covid 19 Pandemic in 2021
How to Find Love, Top Online Dating App during Covid 19 Pandemic in 2021
How to Find Love, Top Online Dating App during Covid 19 Pandemic in 2021

2. Make it clear what you want

Of course, it helps to tell other people what you really want. It’s not a great idea to walk into Costco and say, “give me what I want.” That may bring you a broom, 20 rolls of duct tape, a seven-pound tub of Nutella, a four-foot-tall wine glass, or anything that happens to be on sale or on the “get rid of this” list. Or the sales folks may answer, “well, tell us what you want,” and “please, put on your face mask while doing so.”

Similarly, expressing to others what you are looking for can help spare wasted dating effort. If you are worried about how that may make you look, forget about it. Remember people have been fighting over toilet paper, attending work meetings without wearing pants, and not getting haircuts for months. This is not the time to be bashful, indirect, or a bit fishy. In this case, fishy means either being coy or getting catfished (i.e., lured in by someone pretending to be someone else), because the stakes and investment required are now higher.

Chaouli suggested, “Give other people standards to meet. For example, on a dating profile, you can say please send me an engaging note. Standards are like a filter system.”

She added, “Be a space for others to step into. Ask questions. Genuinely express some interest. Give direction.” After all, if Pop Tarts need to have instructions such as remove pastry from packaging, a lot of people could benefit from more direction when it comes to dating.

Top 13 of the Best Online Dating Apps

to Find Relationships

1. Match.

2. OurTime.

3. Bumble.

4. Plenty of Fish.

5. Hinge.

6. OKCupid.

7. Zoosk.

8. Tinder.

9. SingleParentMeet.

10. eHarmony.

11. Coffee Meets Bagel.

12. Hily.

13. Happn.

3. Have enough remote meetings first

If you are the “jump into bed first, ask questions later” type of person, this is not your time. Instead, take the time and effort to really get to know the other person before getting physical. Berman thinks that this is actually a good thing in the long run: “it offers more emotional protection. If people become intimate and have sex too quickly, that distorts things.”

Video dating can be an effective way to learn about each other. Nowadays, if you meet someone online, it’s tough for that person to avoid meeting via video. Be suspicious if someone says, “oh, Tuesday through Saturday won’t work because I’ll be on the toilet those days.” Or, “I can’t meet because I’m having a bad hair day.” Heck, many of us are having a bad hair year.

At first glance, Zoom, Skype, or FaceTime may not seem like the most romantic of venues. “Hey, you are on mute”, “”I can just see the top of your head”, or “you are fading in and out” may not be on your Top 10 list of most alluring things to say. Well, perhaps, “hey, you are on mute, but what you are saying must be magical,” could work. Regardless, stripping an interaction down to its basics could actually be quite informative and beneficial. Can both of you maintain a conversation without the cover of distractions like alcohol or Meghan Trainor’s “All About the Bass” in the background?

Covid Dating: How to Date During Covid-19 Pandemic in 2021?
Photo: Boston Magazine

4. Ask key questions early

Don’t wait until you have already invested too much effort before asking important questions. If something is important to you, inquire about it early. It’s always better to know who someone really is as soon as you can. Before meeting in person, don’t be afraid to ask questions such as:

Do you want to have children? What do you think about children? Do you believe the children are our future? Should you teach them well and let them lead the way? Will you show them all the beauty they possess inside?

How long was your longest relationship? Why did it end? What exactly do you mean by “restraining order”?

Do you ever want to get married? Have you ever been engaged or married? Are you married right now? Is that your spouse in the other Zoom window? Why is your spouse Zoom-bombing our conversation? How do I find the “Leave Meeting” button?

What do you think about other races, ethnicities, genders, and other lifestyles? Where do you stand on important social issues? What is that hood that’s on the shelf in your background?

What are your thoughts about money? Where does it rank on your priorities? Do you think money can buy happiness? Does pouring it on to your bed and rolling in it really give you that much joy?

What do you want in life? Why is unlimited Nutella and hot dogs your goal? What is your dream job? What is the one thing that you want to accomplish in your life? Do you really think that Nutella should be part of your answer?

What are you most proud of (besides getting a virtual date with me)? What are you afraid of, besides me and spiders?

Describe your personality? Why do you think liking macaroni and cheese qualifies as a personality? Why do you keep saying YOLO?

Do you smoke? Do you drink alcohol? How much? Do you have any non-avocado-based addictions?

What do you think about science? What conspiracy theories do you believe in and why?

What do you think about the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic? Have you been infected? What do you think about social distancing, mask use, and other measures? Have you ever tried injecting disinfectants into yourself?

What is your dating and sexual history? How many partners have you had? Why are you asking me to clarify whether I am referring to partners in one night versus partners over your lifetime? Actually, could you answer both questions and do so very slowly? What do you mean by more than one? Why do you think 526 is not a large number?

Get a sense of the other person’s risk levels and the precautions that he or she is taking. If the person believes that the pandemic is a hoax or is otherwise not taking precautions very seriously, you may want to put a halt to things unless you want to expose yourself to the virus.

If you think that such questions may make the Zoom or phone date too much like an interview, weave the questions into your conversation or make them more flirty. Throw in words like “hunky”, “hot”, and “avocado.” For example, say “tell me about your hunky, hunky, hot personality.” Or “yum avocados, are they ripe enough? How long have they been sitting there? Longer than your longest relationship?” With some creativity, you can turn anything into foreplay.

“In some ways, this is like going back to the days of love letters,” said Berman. “All of the foreplay is done virtually. It gives you more information and more time before the meeting.”

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5. If you decide to meet in person, establish a ‘contract’ beforehand

Covid Dating: How to Date During Covid-19 Pandemic in 2021?
Photo: Philadelphia Inquirer

Say the virtual meetings have gone well and you’ve mutually decided that it’s time to meet in person. Before this meeting occurs, set some ground rules on how you will interact. 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.

Berman called setting these ground rules establishing a “contract with the other person.” Now this doesn’t mean a signed formal agreement or specification of compensation if the date doesn’t work out as planned (e.g., 14 tubs of macaroni-and-cheese will be delivered if the in-person meeting does not lead anywhere). Rather, it’s establishing mutual boundaries before any closer engagement occurs, such as agreeing upon:

A safe meeting place, one with appropriate space to maintain social distancing, ventilation, cleaning procedures, and access to soap and sinks.

Maintaining social distancing throughout the meeting and ways to do this.

When and what kind of face coverings to wear.

Ensuring each other that you are symptom-free.

Whether, when, and how to get tested for the Covid-19 coronavirus

Quarantining or at least remaining in a safe bubble for two weeks before meeting

Sure, establishing agreements before meeting may not seem like rom-com material. But then again how realistic are rom-coms? Holding up a boom box over your head outside a person’s house could get you arrested. Billionaire corporate raiders probably don’t sweep prostitutes off their feet every day. If you and your potential date can’t get on the same page about basic precautions then maybe you two aren’t right for each other.

6. 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.

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