Pandemic Dating is a Thing - Here's How to Do It Safely

Missy Crystal

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My friend recently connected with a wonderful man. He’s ambitious, attractive, and intelligent. He has zero kids, two dogs, and no major baggage.

They work in a similar field. He gives her the respect and kindness she deserves after leaving a toxic marriage. She wakes up to “Good morning, beautiful” texts each day. He’s just what she needs, and I’m so happy they’ve clicked.

But they’ve never met.

They found each other online, just like nearly 40% of other Americans. Online dating is common during this decade, and many people eventually transition from virtual flirting to offline relationships.

That’s not an option now, though. COVID-19 is ruining plans across the nation, but you don’t have to let this life-threatening virus kill your social life. You can honor social distancing guidelines without destroying your relationship.

We need human interaction, even during a pandemic. Loneliness is as deadly as smoking 15 cigarettes per day, and it increases your risk of developing dementia by 40%. Social isolation protects you from the coronavirus, but it doesn’t benefit your emotional health.

That’s why you should keep dating during the COVID-19 pandemic. You just have to be careful.

Don’t let your relationship suffer while the coronavirus makes its rounds. Try these 25 ideas to keep romance — and yourself — alive.

1. Host virtual dates

Plan a fun date night, then grab your webcam, tablet, or smartphone. The goal is to feel like you’re together even though you obviously aren’t.

You can do whatever the two of you enjoy. Create similar paintings, feast on two candlelit meals, watch a show together, make crafts, or sing karaoke until your quarantined neighbors go insane.

2. Join Netflix watch parties

Miss cuddling with your sweetheart at the theater? You can’t hold hands through the TV, but you can still connect via Netflix watch parties.

Download the Netflix Party extension through Chrome, pop some popcorn, and live stream your favorite flick together. View Netflix’s list of trending picks first if you need help deciding what to watch.

3. Play virtual games

Love chess? Can’t get enough of Words with Friends? Determined to prove your smarts during trivia?

There are virtual options for all of these games and many more. Unleash your competitive nature and challenge your partner to beat your high score on Mario Kart Tour or think of words that start with Q on Scrabble Go. You can even play Monopoly through your smartphone or tablet.

4. Stream live podcasts

Listen intently as celebs or everyday folks share their opinions on everything from parenting to politics. After the podcast ends, call each other and discuss your own thoughts.

5. Watch a webinar

I hate to be a downer, but some of us might not have jobs after the COVID-19 pandemic ends. If you fear your employment is in jeopardy, learn new skills during a webinar. Watch an online course, meeting, or training session with your significant other and grow together.

6. Embark on a pretend vacation

Now is not the time to explore the world as COVID-19 continues to spread. However, you can unleash your creativity and enjoy a make-believe trip together.

Google images of beaches, restaurants, and tourist attractions from the destination of your choice. Find YouTube videos or audio clips of the waves hitting the sand. Send each other Thai food or a Mexican feast via DoorDash or Grubhub if it fits the theme for your pretend vacation. Experiment with photo editing software and transform your background into a tropical location.

7. Have a dinner date in your cars

There’s a meme floating around social media about how people should meet up in drive-thru parking lots like police, and it’s not a bad idea. Pack a lunch or order one through the drive-thru window, then park beside each other and eat. Wave and smile throughout your meal, or connect via video chat and watch each other devour burgers and fries.

8. Tour museums from your laptop

You can’t visit most museums in person until the COVID-19 scare dies down, but you can take virtual tours. Explore popular museums such as the British Museum in London, the Musée d’Orsay, or the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Take notes on your favorite exhibits and compare your top picks, then make plans to see them in person when the pandemic ends.

9. Visit virtual zoos

As the weather grows warmer, many of us miss visiting lovable animals at the zoo. Fortunately, you and your sweetheart can enjoy virtual tours of many popular zoos, including the Houston Zoo, Cape May County Zoo, and the Virginia Zoo.

10. Explore national landmarks and other attractions without leaving home

Enjoy a humidity-free tour of the rainforest at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, discover the vibrant red rocks of the Grand Canyon, or imagine the chill of the Alaskan Glaciers through your digital device. If you’re a thrill seeker, participate in a virtual rollercoaster ride at Disney or wander the parks via Google Street View.

11. Check out virtual aquariums

Relaxing on the beach isn’t always possible during a pandemic, but you can view ocean life during a virtual aquarium tour. Check out the National Aquarium in Baltimore, the Georgia Aquarium, or the Loggerhead Marinelife Center. The Monterey Bay Aquarium has a live cam that brings the crashing waves of the beach to your screen.

12. Have a scavenger hunt

Create a list of easy-to-find items from your houses and yards, then hunt for them — separately, of course — and take pics of your progress. Whoever wins gets a contact-free pizza or DoorDash delivery.

13. Complete a project together

Feeling creative? Make separate pages for a scrapbook until you can combine your memories in person. Plant flowers in each other’s yards. Buy the same puzzle and do it separately.

14. Try new recipes from a distance

Improve your cooking skills and make the most of the canned goods in your pantry by trying new recipes together. Create a shared board on Pinterest or tag each other in yummy recipes you find on Facebook, then make the same meal at each of your home’s. Swap pics and share feedback so you can decide which recipes are keepers.

15. Video chat

Gaze lovingly through your screen as you and your sweetheart chat the day away via Skype, FaceTime, Zoom, or whatever video app you prefer. When you get tired of talking, switch to Snapchat or text each other photos.

16. Call each other

Poor WiFi connections or short attention spans make video chats impractical for some couples. If your Internet lags like the line at Walmart on Black Friday or you hate staring at a screen, try making a traditional phone call instead. You can even wear earbuds while you pace around the living room.

17. Write each other letters

The written language isn’t dead, even if you suck at spelling or have the handwriting skills of a 5 year old. It’s nice to get handwritten words of affection in our digital era, so draft a romantic letter for your loved one and drop it in the mail. Be careful if you send a card, though: the coronavirus can survive up to 24 hours on cardboard.

18. Create a love jar

Create a love jar at each of your homes and fill it with whatever you deem fit. This might be tidbits about your day, reasons why you miss your beau, or exciting activities you’d like to do together when COVID-19 stops forcing folks into quarantine.

19. Text pictures of everyday life

Fancy dates and luxurious trips are nice, but there are magical moments in everyday life. Text each other pics of simple things that you once did together, like drinking coffee as sunlight streams through the window or gazing at the stars from your back porch. Enjoy life’s beauty together, even when you’re apart.

Send snaps before you roll out of bed, unbrushed hair and all. Share pics of yourself sweeping, washing dishes, or cleaning the garage. Upload images of yourself smiling, frowning, and scowling.

20. Talk through your window

A Minnesota man made headlines after continuing his daily visits with his elderly father in a unique way. Each day, Charlie Johnson pulls up a chair outside of his father’s senior living community and looks at him through the window as they chat over the phone.

You can do the same thing with your loved one. Schedule a convenient time, grab your chair, and enjoy some quality time together while practicing social distancing.

21. Read the same book

Many libraries are closed during the pandemic, but you can check out digital books from the DPLA. There are also plenty of digital books available on Amazon.com if you prefer to purchase your reading material and can’t get a hard copy shipped quickly.

22. Go hiking

Many national parks are still open as COVID-19 spreads across communities. If your city isn’t on lockdown and you feel confident you can hike at least 6 feet apart per social distancing guidelines, you can try wandering the woods within each other’s eyesight.

23. Write a story together

Create a shared Google Doc and log in whenever you each have time. Add a few words, a whole page, or whatever your creativity inspires you to do. Find relevant images on Pixabay or similar sites if you’re better with pictures than words.

24. Have an unboxing night

Send each other sweet care packages and then open them together, either via video chat or over the phone. Many post offices ship USPS boxes and envelopes to your porch at no charge. Contact-free pickups and dropoffs are also possible in most areas, so you can safely send mail to your honey.

25. Plan for your future

Think about all the things you enjoyed doing before the pandemic and all the things you wish you had done together. Make a list of all the fun activities you can enjoy when social distancing ends, whether you want to grab dinner at your favorite restaurant or travel to Bermuda.

Your relationship can survive the COVID-19 pandemic as long as you put in the effort.

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Full-time mom, student, and writer. I cover everything from parenting and personal finance to relationships and health.

O Fallon, MO
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