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If your goal is to continue to go on dates during the pandemic, but you’re feeling anxious about your safety, know you can take action to get on the same page with your date and stay as safe as possible.
While it may be a change to the way you date, the coronavirus pandemic is motivating people to share information, ask questions, and discuss topics that are not normally on the table in early stages of dating. Before COVID, there may have been stress about choosing the perfect bar or restaurant or which day of the week to meet up. But safety concerns were not at the forefront of the conversation or a part of decision-making.
Now the dating landscape looks and feels completely different. Singles are having to make changes to the types of dates and date locations, as well as the method of communication prior to meeting and throughout dating.
Here are six tips to guide you in getting on the same page as your date about COVID-19 safety protocols:
Understanding what you need to date safely and comfortably during the pandemic is important. This involves examining your comfort level regarding mask-wearing and social distancing (while keeping the CDC recommendations and any restrictions in mind). You and your date should come up with suggestions for ideal date locations, among other things, and ask questions you need answered prior to meeting in person.
Consider the risks and benefits of each dating scenario while understanding that it is essential that you both feel comfortable and prioritize your safety. Convincing yourself to take dangerous or uncomfortable risks is not the answer. It is not smart for your mental or physical health, especially with COVID-19 rapidly spreading.
Plus, if your anxiety is high, you aren’t setting yourself up to make the best possible first impression. After reflecting on what dating during the pandemic would look like, you will be better able to articulate your thoughts and needs to potential dates.
If you are asking someone out or someone asks you out, start with a virtual or phone date prior to meeting in person. This is the absolute safest way to start the dating process with someone new.
You can make it fun or creative through a variety of virtual date ideas. You can use your virtual or phone date to discuss what an in-person date would look like during the pandemic (more on this below), and it gives you an out if you can’t get on the same page.
If you aren’t sure how to bring up a virtual date, say “I’m really interested in getting to know you, but I’m most comfortable only dating virtually at this point. How about a Zoom meeting this weekend?”
You can always meet in person later if phone or virtual dating goes well.
Discuss COVID-19 boundaries on a phone or video date prior to finalizing an in-person date, so there is no potential awkwardness, tension, or misunderstanding.
Setting up guidelines for meeting in person will help ensure your date doesn’t take it personally when you aren’t eager to hug or attempt a goodbye kiss.
You could say something like, “It’s been great hanging out over video and I’d love to meet up in person, but I’d like us both to wear masks at all times and hold off on physical contact,” “Grabbing some food sounds great as long as it’s outside at a restaurant that is enforcing distancing between tables,” or “Let’s take a walk together and keep some distance while we are still getting to know each other.”
The point is to be specific about your needs and expectations, so there are no surprises. The date is not going to go well if these things are not addressed beforehand.
It’s natural to want to make a good first impression by coming off positive and relaxed. You obviously want to avoid grilling your date about their whereabouts and personal life. But now more than ever it’s OK to ask some basic COVID-19-related questions prior to spending time with someone.
You have the right to know what kind of contact your date has had with others and whether your date follows mask-wearing and distancing rules. Politely ask who your date lives with and whether he or she has been exposed and/or tested, etc. You should supply your date with similar information about yourself. Safety has to come above all.
Don’t be shy about sharing what you are comfortable with. It may feel vulnerable to express your needs and opinions to someone you are interested in and barely know, but it’s worth it to make sure you are on the same page prior to investing time in each other.
Be willing to move on if someone isn’t a good fit.
Don’t ignore these red flags. If someone won’t disclose any COVID-19-related information or isn’t taking the pandemic seriously, politely walk away. I know it can be disappointing, but trust your gut and move on.
Be direct when articulating your boundaries and remind yourself that there is no need to feel guilt or obligation to meet someone with whom you don’t see eye to eye. There is no point in pushing your anxiety to the max to meet someone who isn’t respecting you or themselves.
Stand up for yourself and remember that there are plenty of amazing potential matches out there for you. Starting off a relationship out of pressure, obligation, or discomfort saying “no” is not healthy. It sets you up for feeling emotionally disconnected and puts your physical safety and health in jeopardy.
Your goal is to look for a compatible partner who respects your views, needs, and boundaries during this ongoing pandemic.
It may feel like a lot of effort and potential awkwardness to get aligned with your date. You may feel like avoiding dating altogether. Taking a break from dating during the pandemic is absolutely fine and reasonable. But, if you want to keep dating, know that virtual dates, mask-wearing dates, distanced dates, and outdoor dates are all options that can be very successful.
Once you get the hang of it, you will find you can still be flirty and seductive without physical touch, and you can still establish a connection virtually. You are not alone in feeling anxious. Avoid rushing into meeting, spending time indoors, or becoming sexually intimate with someone new. Stay committed to your dating goals (it’s OK to take breaks) and let your personality shine — even from behind your mask!
Like most people, you are probably still learning how to navigate the new dating scene and negotiate safe and comfortable dates. Discussions over whether to wear a mask or assessing the appropriate level of physical contact are naturally breeding anxiety. But even as the pandemic is creating many challenges, you can do a lot to get on the same page as your date and start a new relationship.
And, as always, if it doesn’t feel right or something is off, move on and make sure you are only dating people who are respectful, trustworthy, and care about the well-being and safety of others.