When we entered lockdown and I was still a single Pringle, I knew the next couple of months were going to be rough: constant family walks, movie nights, and virtual zoom happy hours with my friends across the country and down the street to keep busy. My family took the quarantine very seriously; I wasn’t seeing anyone for the foreseeable future. I was dreading it. My mom, on the other hand, could not have been more excited for me. She believes that our generation is too casual about sex, and lockdown would give Millennials and Gen Z’ers the opportunity to form more than just a physical connection. She even sent me a text saying, and I quote, “at least now you have to talk before you can get into each other's pants.” Ouch.
Despite the countless nags from friends, I never downloaded a dating app. Being in my hometown and being able to see all of my high school peers profiles would be too much for me. Well, weeks later and my friends all reported that they were all bored and had stopped talking to their new “friends” from the apps. Although my mother feels that COVID-19 was a blessing in disguise, the physical aspect of a relationship is extremely important. Not being able to meet in person or be within six feet of one another prevents you from forming an intimate relationship. All of my friends' new relationships stopped after about three weeks, unless they were willing to take the risk of getting sick. So now what?
How to meet someone new in a time where it is literally #nonewfriends may seem impossible, but I promise it's not. If you are on a college campus this may be easier for you to accomplish. Instead of going out to bars to meet new people, rely on friendships and connections. Now is the time to ask your friend to set you up with their lab partner, roommate, boyfriend's best friend, or any person you have secretly been crushing on. Go for it! Getting set up with this new person isn’t really “expanding your web” since one of your friends has already interacted with them and brought them into their net. When you are first set up with this secret crush, make sure to ask them questions so that when you do first initially meet you feel safe.
If you feel safe enough to meet in person, offer up a few first date ideas: a walk around campus (with masks on), stargazing (with masks on), a picnic (socially distant). If you are feeling more bold, order takeout, then sit outside and have a bonfire. If you are feeling really confident, sit outside at a restaurant and do the same. Now is the time to be creative with date ideas. You may feel weird offering up stargazing or a walk as a first date, things aren’t normal. It’s okay to go on untraditional first dates.
It is important to establish a common set of ground rules between you two as well. How long until you can take off the masks and be within six feet of one another? Will you both get tested before? What are you both avoiding in order to safely see one another? It might seem like this is a lot to establish and talk about on a first or second date, however, think of it as setting your relationship up for a strong honeymoon phase. Giving up gatherings so that you two can see one another is cute, not intense. Don’t think that you are getting too serious too fast, think of it like you are creating a bubble for you and your love interest. If after a few COVID-19-friendly safe dates you don't want to continue pursuing this, no harm no foul. You both were completely safe so there is no fear of contracting COVID-19.
Explore the relationship. Make sure to be vocal with your roommates as well. If they aren’t taking COVID-19 seriously, ask them to be a little bit more mindful. Explain what precautions you are taking to stay healthy, and maybe they’ll be open to following them too -- especially during this new age of dating. You just outsmarted a pandemic. I know I am spitting wisdom to y’all, but in all honesty, I have yet to ask one of my friends to set me up. So really, what do I know?