Dating can be fun, exciting, and uncomplicated. You might be meeting someone new, testing if there’s a spark, or growing a relationship you currently have. It’s a time to talk, to get to know each other and to have some enjoyable moments. But, as with most social interactions, there can be challenges. The last thing you need to stress about is how COVID-19 is going to impact — or already has impacted — your dating life.
In fact, even the experts agree. Jason Lee, a dating coach and communications expert with Best Online Dating, says, “Just because the world is on hold doesn’t mean you have to put your search for love on hold too.”
So, whether you’re going on the nerve-wracking first date or trying to find ways to connect with your partner during these strange times, there are so many things you can do to spend time together and get to know each other. You just have to be a little creative and remember to wear a mask in public.
- Set up a video call and eat the same meal together
You may be tired of hearing about video calls and virtual meetings, but even if you aren’t having a remote office meeting, Zoom and FaceTime still have many uses. If you’re unable to leave the house, you can totally schedule a virtual date with your significant other or that new person you’re seeing.
This is probably the simplest solution to the first date problem during COVID-19, and may seem basic and boring, but it doesn’t have to be. Many people are turning to video calls to get to know others, and it can be just as fun as dating in person.
Sara*, a 24-year-old student at Elon University, actually scheduled a Zoom call with a guy for their first date.
“There is no time limit for Zoom calls with one other person,” Sara says. “So, we talked for almost three hours. It was nice to not feel constrained.” She adds that she also felt more comfortable being in her own home, even though it was weird to not be in person with him.
If just sitting and chatting isn’t your thing, you can also make your virtual date feel even more like a date by cooking or ordering the same meal and eating it together.
You can also watch movies on these virtual dates, too. If you both have Netflix, you can have a Netflix Party with the Google Chrome extension, or watch a movie together on a different streaming site. Just don’t forget the headphones!
- Go see a drive-in movie or have an outdoor movie night
As the world begins to adjust to pandemic restrictions, people are getting creative with their dates, including the revival of an old trend: drive-in movies. You can either go to the movie in the same car or stay distanced yourself and drive separately while video chatting during the movie to still “see it together.”
James Anderson, a relationship expert and dating coach for BeyondAges.com, says, “Many drive-in movie theaters have been seeing a resurgence lately, and it’s not just movies.” He says that many of these theaters have been having comedy shows and concerts as well.
And if drive-in movies aren’t your thing, you can also have an outdoor movie night together. Put up a sheet in your backyard (if you have one, of course) with a projector. Or you can grab your laptop, set out two blankets that are safely distanced, and enjoy your movie that way.
- Go grocery shopping together
If you’re ready to know even more about your partner or date, try doing something utterly mundane. It means stepping out of the “normal” dates and trying something a little strange. Try this: plan your errands around each other.
“Coordinate your grocery runs and spend time getting to know each other’s favorites and preferences,” Girish Duut Shukla, a computer engineer and freelance digital marketer, suggests. “All the while reducing the dullness of a solo shopping trip.”
It’s a different way to spend time together, but it can definitely tell you a lot about the person you’re dating. By food shopping together, you quickly learn their food preferences, how they handle even the most basic, but necessary, tasks and how they interact with customer service employees in a less impressive environment (meaning, not in a fancy restaurant).
It’s one thing to know how a person interacts with you individually and in a romantic setting, but how they act around others and in public can be a total turn-off. You don’t want to date a jerk, do you?
- Have an outdoor picnic
This one is self-explanatory, but you and your date could have an outdoor picnic together. Pack up your favorite foods and enjoy your own, all while getting to know each other without severe risk.
If you’re creative and artsy — or even if you’re not — make things even more fun and interesting by bringing some paint and canvases, or a couple of sketchbooks and markers. You can spend time drawing each other and then laughing about how terrible they are (or complimenting each other because of how incredibly talented you are).
Sometimes the only time that works for a date is at night, and you can have an outdoor picnic then, too!
“Pack up some snacks and head out into the country where light pollution won’t interfere with your view,” Anderson proposes. “This can be a very peaceful and romantic way to get to know each other without the distractions of most date spots.”
With COVID-19 still making the rounds, outdoor dates where you can be more intentional about keeping yourself distanced are probably more practical and fun.
- Find a farm to explore or plant your own garden
If you love nature and plants, this date is probably for you! Put away your phone and other technology, put on a mask, and get ready to get your hands a little dirty. Though it won’t work for every climate and city, going to a farm or planting your own garden can be a fun date that helps you get to know the person you’re dating.
“Go to a local nursery and pick out some new flowers to plant,” says Kaitlyn Short, who manages an online dating blog for BestCompany.com. “This is a great opportunity to try something new and get to know your date.” But never fear if you’re in an apartment and have no yard space to do this; you can build a small garden for your apartment instead. Find some plants that don’t need too much sun, and you’re set.
- Take a virtual tour together
If you and your partner are quarantined together or are just staying home as often as possible, you can take the time to experience some culture together. Study up on art and artists while getting to know your date by taking virtual tours.
Sacha Nasan, co-founder of blind dating app Blindlee, says, “Take a virtual culture trip together on Zoom or Skype call. Google Arts & Culture, a free platform with over 2,000 museums and projects that you can explore virtually, some even in 360-degree video.”
It can be a fun way to continue learning, all while seeing places you may not ever get to otherwise. Plus, you’ll be getting to know the person who could become a lifelong partner for you (no pressure, though).
- Have a campfire and s’mores
If you live in the country, or just in an area with a lot of open space and a fire pit, you can have a campfire with some yummy s’mores. If you really want to test the skills of your date, you can even pre-make meals in tin foil to heat up on the fire.
Not only does this get you both out of the house to get some fresh air, but you can stay safely distanced by staying on opposite sides of the fire. You can have a nice conversation and really get to know each other by the romantic glow of a fire.
There are countless date ideas for people who need to stay home. And even if you don’t have to stay home and decide to venture out, you can find plenty of ways to stay socially distanced in public. No matter how you decide to keep your dating game going strong, just remember to be communicative and upfront with your potential or current partner. If you’re meeting in person, make sure your date knows that you want to keep a distance. Want to wear masks? Tell them. And, if they tell you, make sure to respect it!
Dating during COVID-19 is definitely possible — you just have to be willing to step outside the box.
*Names have been changed.