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There’s no denying that COVID-19 has changed dating in numerous ways. More specifically, where singles meet, the locations of dates, and the types of dates people go on, have been majorly impacted by the pandemic. Many standard dates, such as drinks at a bar or dinner at an indoor restaurant, no longer feel safe, easy, or accessible.
Spending time indoors or in close proximity to someone who doesn’t live in your household poses a huge safety risk as COVID-19 spreads very easily and is currently surging across the country.
The CDC has advised people to stay at least 6 feet away from others when possible and wear a mask over your nose and mouth. It is also recommended to socialize outside as much as possible to avoid potentially poorly ventilated spaces that present a higher risk of exposure.
It is understandable that these guidelines may make dating feel very challenging. As we approach the colder months, you may feel at a loss for how to date safely, especially if you’d like to go on outdoor dates.
You may also feel pressure to connect with someone new before it gets too cold for consistent outdoor dates. You may feel anxious if your pre-pandemic ideal date took place in the bar scene and wonder what a pandemic-friendly date consists of. If you are already in an established relationship, you may feel bored spending so much time in your home and not being able to go out together as much as you’d like.
Know all of these reactions, concerns, and worries are natural as you navigate the new territory of dating (or keeping a relationship exciting) during COVID-19.
So, how can you go on fun dates while staying safe? Here are eight date ideas for fall and winter:
You’re not alone if you feel virtual dating is awkward, anxiety-provoking, or uncomfortable. However, it’s important to be open to it and build your confidence with practice.
Virtual dating is by far the safest way to assess initial compatibility with someone. It’s a helpful way to determine if you have enough in common to arrange an in-person date. Plus, most people are feeling higher levels of anxiety because of COVID and aren’t ready to rush into meeting.
Therefore, I recommend starting with a Zoom or FaceTime date prior to an in-person date. Consider setting up a virtual drink or coffee date.
Be sure you are making a positive first impression with your appearance and home environment (your background and lighting are very important). Check out online dating expert Julie Spira’s virtual dating tips here.
Regardless of if you are just meeting for the first time or live with your partner, you may be itching to get outside. As a culture, we are spending more time in our homes than we are used to, so simply having a meal or drink outside with someone interesting can feel like a breath of fresh air (literally!).
You can up the romance with a bottle of wine and cheese plate or sip on some hot chocolate. Check out this article for inspiration on cheese plates. Even though this date is simple, putting in effort with a delicious treat will impress your date.
Also, if your date would rather not take masks off for eating or drinking, don’t be offended or take it personally. Remember that dating during a pandemic is hard on everyone.
The simple act of taking a walk with someone can be a relaxing and easy date idea. In fact, enjoying nature or beautiful scenery together can actually be quite romantic. Plus, showing off your active and adventurous side can be very attractive.
Go hiking on a local trail or through a national/state park. If an ideal hiking location isn’t close by, look for an outdoor sculpture garden, body of water, historical walking area, or park.
If you haven’t heard, outdoor heaters and fire pits are being called the new toilet paper because they are in such high demand and hard to get.
If you managed to buy a fire pit or have access to one, you are in luck! Set up chairs or blankets near a fire pit or heater for a cute day date connecting over deep conversation or night date watching the stars.
To plan a star-gazing date, be sure to check the weather for nighttime visibility, bring warm blankets, and put together a playlist to set the mood.
Bonus: Gather the ingredients to make s’mores, and you are bound to enjoy a delicious snack together.
The CDC warns that outdoor dining is still a risk and recommends “food service limited to drive-through, delivery, takeout, and curb-side pickup.”
As well as offering carry-out options, many restaurants are getting creative with touchless/contactless ordering (through your phone and without menus), socially distanced seating arrangements, and propane heaters or tents to keep you warm.
Depending on your comfort level (and your date’s), you have numerous ways to dine together and enjoy food from one of your favorite restaurants.
If you aren’t comfortable eating out, make a plan to order in food from the same restaurant and enjoy a virtual meal together. If you live together, plan a date night at home with takeout, and don’t forget to get out of your PJs and light some candles.
Despite the pandemic, there is still Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa spirit in the air, and the holidays are approaching. Holiday gatherings and celebrations are not going to be the same this year, but you can still add a festive feel to your dating life.
Take a walk with the purpose of enjoying Christmas lights and decorations, stroll around an outdoor holiday market, or help each other online shop for friends and family.
To give you some other ideas, here’s a list of some of Oprah’s most magical Christmas towns and villages, which could be perfect outdoor date locations if you happen to live nearby.
If you are an established couple and celebrate Christmas, go Christmas tree shopping together and put on some holiday tunes as you decorate your tree.
Many states are opening outdoor ice skating rinks at lower capacity and mask mandates in place.
Ice skating is a classic winter date idea that feels romantic and silly (depending on your skill level!). It can be a fun activity date that involves lots of flirting while getting to know each other or spicing up your relationship.
Do a google search to see what interests you and your date/partner, and then plan to watch together from your home(s). For example, the YouTube Channel “The Shows Must Go On!” releases new shows each week, and many concert halls, dance ensembles, and comedy clubs are also giving virtual shows.
Virtual activities and classes, such as cooking, weightlifting, or yoga, are other options. You can also keep each other company (even if it’s not in person) by watching a TV show together.
Bonding over a shared experience, such as a new interesting show, is a valuable way to start or deepen conversation.
It may not feel sexy to put your safety first, but it’s important to be aware of the risks and make smart choices.
Remember that building a connection, being open, evaluating compatibility, and having fun are still at the forefront of successful dating.
By taking advantage of outdoor and virtual dates during the fall and winter seasons, you can keep up with your dating goals while staying as safe as possible.