Pandemic-Friendly Valentine’s Day
Yes, it’s almost Valentine’s Day and we are still in the middle of the pandemic. Although there is a light at the end of the tunnel with the hope of vaccinations, for the present time we are still stuck in our quarantine bubbles. The pandemic looks different for everyone. Some of us haven’t left our houses in almost a year while others have had to maintain a sense of normalcy.
In the past year, we have moved remote for work, social interactions and even dating. Online dating has taken on a new meaning and assisted us in starting new chapters in our current relationships while allowing us to build new ones. The use of dating apps has skyrocketed and new features have made communication more accessible. As we approach the season of love you have to prioritize the safety of you and your loved one whether that’s remaining online or moving communications in-person.
Here are some tips for pandemic-friendly dating this Valentine’s Day...
- Dating during a pandemic adds another layer of apprehension. The health of you and your loved ones are potentially at risk. Now is the time to buckle down and figure out what you want. It’s important to define if you are looking for a committed relationship or going a more casual route. Be vocal about what you want, time is precious you don’t want to waste yours or somebody else’s.
- Make your health a priority by asking difficult questions. Similar to if you are going to a doctor’s appointment be sure to obtain the necessary information. Remember to ask questions but also respect your date’s right to privacy. We are in challenging times and some of these questions may be hard for some to answer. Be prepared to provide answers to the questions yourself.
- How have you been socially distancing?
- Have you been in contact with anyone who has been exposed to COVID in the last month?
- When was the last time you were tested for COVID?
- ...or even the dreaded question… have you ever tested positive for COVID-19?
- If you aren’t comfortable meeting in-person, then you have the power to say, "no thanks, I'm not ready to meet in person yet." Make sure to set clear boundaries. Prioritize what makes you feel safe and comfortable while keeping in mind the boundaries that make your date share your level of comfort. When setting your parameters consider if you want to meet in-person and what you want that to look like. Are you wearing a mask? Is your partner doing the same?
- Ensure you're symptom-free before you go out. People are most infectious with COVID in the first five days after symptom onset, according to a study published in The Lancet on Jan. 1, 2021. There are ways to check if you are symptomatic without getting tested. Before your date, check your temperature to ensure you do not have a fever. Make sure you have none of the following symptoms including shortness of breath or trouble breathing, cough (new or worsening), loss of smell or taste, sore throat, chest pains or any other known side effect of COVID. Have any concerns? Visit a free testing location before your date. As always, if you’ve been exposed to anyone who has tested positive stay home.
- Know the rules and follow them. Every place is different right now. Know the laws in your city and whether a mask is mandated or not. Besides the regulations set by the government, also consider that each establishment has set clear health guidelines in place. This may include wearing a mask, social distancing or lower capacity. Respect and follow the rules set before you by remembering that everyone is just trying to stay safe. Don’t forget to wash your hands and sanitize often!
- When it comes to meeting in person, it’s important to communicate. Be sure to check in on one another. Your safety should be your priority, but also make sure your date is feeling protected. Keep in mind that it’s okay for you, or your date, to change your mind. Meeting in-person once does not have to constitute another meeting. It is also valuable if you and your date are honest about one another about where you’ve been and who you have been with to help to track COVID exposures.
This Valentine’s Day will, unfortunately, be unlike any other. However, there are still ways to make it a night worth remembering. In this dating dark age, there are still opportunities to keep partners occupied while remaining safe and socially distanced.
- When in doubt, go remote! Virtual dating is the safest way to hang out with someone during this challenging time. Although, we are all exhausted from the constant video calls, starting with a Zoom or Facetime session can be an excellent way to see if you have enough in common to arrange an in-person date. If you choose to do this, be sure to set up a good first impression. Skip the pajamas (at least from the waist up) and ensure the lighting brings out all your best qualities. Don’t forget to clean up your background, no one wants to see your messy room. Plus, unlike work meetings, your pets are encouraged.
- A simple video chat is not the only online option for you and a date to consider. You can always host a virtual watch party. Online platforms like Teleparty, formerly known as Netflix Party, allows individuals a new way to watch their favorite television shows and movies. Teleparty synchronizes video playback and adds a group chat to fan-favorite streaming services including Netflix, Disney+, Hulu and HBO. With this free browser extension, you can enjoy the benefits of a movie date right from your own home.
- The pandemic is not the only time couples have been separated. Before the age of technology distanced duos would find comfort in writing letters to one another. Call us old-fashioned but letters are a good physical reminder of one’s interest in you. This mostly outdated practice is a good way to pause electronic communications while allowing you to explore your feelings differently.
- Although this time of year runs on the colder side, go outside! This allows couples to get some mask-free fresh air while staying six feet apart if needed. The snowy season opens up several outdoor date ideas including snowball fights, going for a crisp winter walk, ice fishing, ice skating, going to the dog park and sledding. Just be sure to bundle up in a warm winter coat and finish the date with some hot chocolate.
- It’s still an option to go out to eat. Many states have opened indoor dining at a lower capacity with mask mandates in place. This allows you to set outside of your quarantine staples (i.e. boxed macaroni and cheese,) and explore the fine dining experience we’ve all been missing. Remember, if you do choose to dine-in make sure you leave plenty of time to make a reservation with fewer tables available, a spot can be hard to come by!
- However, why dine-in when you can take-out. There is nothing better than a warm meal being delivered right to your front door. Odds are, if you have been dating someone during COVID, you have been exposed to the same surroundings for some time now. With that in mind, staying inside and ordering in can still be made into a nice occasion. Light some candles, set the mood and dress-up as if it were an in-person gathering.
Valentine’s Day may be just around the corner, however, dating will continue as the pandemic runs its course. If you opt for the pandemic-friendly route of making connections online visit Smart Gen Society’s Digital Dating Guide for more information about virtual dating.