How has COVID has changed dating?

By Editor on 20th Aug 2020

Dating is complicated in the best of times. Add in mask-wearing directives, social distancing, and fear of a highly contagious virus for which there is no cure, and it makes for a wonderfully confusing situation. But technology has meant the dating process has not stopped.

Online dating apps have not only seen a spike in usage, but conversations increased by an average of 25% they say as users try to find their comfort zones when talking and potentially meeting with strangers. Once upon a time, ‘courtship’ was patient, lengthy process — letters through the mail, chaperoned visits on front porches, then kisses after many dates. Some are suggesting we may be moving back to this more curious gentle approach to meeting the opposite sex and establishing relationships.

But unlike 100 years ago, we now have the technology to help us speed things along, and while the Pandemic has slowed the breakneck pace at which you can start dating, it still has an important safety role to play. One step up from the ‘old fashioned’ online dating is now video dating which is often proving a convenient starting point and a good way to lay down some ground rules and asking questions such as:
“Do you wear a mask when you go out?”
“What does social distancing mean to you?”

Along with questions such as these you can get a much better feel for how people are reacting to COVID, their opinions on safety procedures, even where they feel the Pandemic has come from. If you are speaking to a COVID denier, video dating is the time to find out.

Again the use of video dating and conversations can take some of the uncertainty out of a first date as you will have seen your partner and have a better idea of who they are. You can often learn a lot about prospective dates virtually— a glimpse into their apartments on video chat is a glimpse into their daily lives.

Others go even further and are requesting for proof of Covid-19 or antibody test results, or suggesting both parties get tested before a meet-up, especially if they live in an area where testing is free (or there is a high level of COVID cases-think Nashville). Though testing for COVID-19 can only get you so far, given that you can take a test and be infected while you’re waiting for your results.

For a first live date keep it outside, where the risk of coronavirus transmission is lower. Walking, riding bikes, picnics, dog walks are all safe(r) ways to meet. Even restaurants with outdoor seating can be reassuring, but keep apart and wear those masks. Most experts agree that first dates as part of a group gathering are not a good idea.

This all makes meeting a new potential partner a different kind of challenge than pre-COVID, but for how long will this continue, and could it change the dating process forever? Some of those searching online for their long-term partners are optimistic that COVID-19 might fundamentally change people’s behavior for the better.

Will we see, even after social distancing rules are lifted, couples continue to use video chats, distance dating as a step in the process, a way to screen people before they meet in person. Others suggest it would take months or even years before they are comfortable shaking hands with a stranger or hugging them on a first date.

According to the Huffington Post here are five questions you should ask someone before meeting them for a date:

1. What does a typical day look like for you during the pandemic?
This will give you a good idea of what the person’s risk factors are — are they working at home? Or are they going to a space that puts them at risk for getting infected?. Dating a health worker may be riskier than someone who works from home.
2. Have you had any COVID-19 symptoms in the last few weeks?
3. Have you been in close contact with anyone who has COVID-19?
You can also ask if they’ve been in any situations recently that may have elevated their risk, such as traveling, or protesting…
4. Who do you live with?
You’d want to know if your date lives with parents or grandparents, who could be in a high-risk group because of their age or underlying health conditions. Or perhaps they have a roommate who’s an essential worker, which could also increase your date’s exposure to the virus.
5. Have you been dating, hooking up, or spending time with people other than those in your household lately?
And if so, this is a good opportunity to ask what precautions they’ve been taking when socializing with others.

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