Here's When You Can Safely Date Again
Read what experts say about in-person dates and what dating will look like after coronavirus.
As the effects of quarantining without companionship begin to set in, many people are eager to get back into the swing of going on dates in person. Over the past few months, as the times have changed, so have the dating trends: Dating apps and video chatting platforms rose in popularity when they became the only safe forms of dating available. But while some people have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know potential romantic partners through these mediums before taking their relationship a step further, many are eager to return to in-person dinner and drinks, not to mention the option of intimacy. We talked with an epidemiologist and some dating experts to get the scoop on when they think it will be safe to date again and what dating after coronavirus might look like.
Robert Gomez, epidemiologist and COVID-19 expert at Parenting Pod, says there are a few factors that play into deciding when dating can be done safely again. For example, you want to pay attention to your local social distancing guidelines and the number of new COVID-19 cases in your area. "If the number of new COVID-19 cases is increasing daily, then the likelihood of bumping into someone who has it is higher," in which case you'll want to stick to the apps for a little while longer. Additionally, if your local government is still enforcing social distancing, you should adhere to that ruling.
Gomez emphasizes the importance of considering your own risk, which is "based on your age, gender, and the number of conditions that could put you at a higher risk of having a severe reaction to the disease if you contract COVID-19." If, after assessing these factors, you conclude that you can safely begin dating again, Gomez suggests dating be done in stages.
"Dating will need to be done in phases based on factors that show it is safe to proceed to the next phase," says Gomez. He suggests doing "virtual dates for at least 14 days, where there are no symptoms or concerns about exposure to a confirmed COVID-19 case." If you have access to coronavirus testing, Gomez suggests getting tested before embarking on a date. According to Gomez, if both parties are able to procure tests and can be sure that they have not knowingly been exposed to anyone who may have the disease, then dates can be done in person, if you feel that your date is worth the risk.
Relationship expert and author Julieanne O'Connor believes that dating after coronavirus will require a more holistic approach. "Much like making a well-informed decision about protected sex, dating now needs to be your choice, carrying with it an inherent risk and potential benefit," says O'Connor.
The timeline for diving back into dating will vary on an individual basis, depending on each person's comfort level. "Some people are already out, going on dates as the lockdowns begin to ease and lift," says Jason Lee of Best Online Dating. "Others, especially those in higher-risk categories, may be a little slower to get back out there." If you're feeling anxious, a date can wait. Take some more time to get to know the person you are meeting and let yourself grow more comfortable with the idea.
Abby Lev, PsyD, is optimistic that the time in quarantine will have a lasting positive effect on dating culture. "Our dating and everyday lives will not go back to 'normal' after this pandemic. A new paradigm shift will be created," she says. This shift would be a result of daters taking the time to get to know each other through video calls or messages before getting intimate in person. Lev hopes "the new normal for relationships will be one that is more empathic, kind, and humanizing than the way online dating has been prior to this pandemic."
And for tips on how to successfully date amid the pandemic, A Relationship Expert Explains How to Date While Social Distancing.