Dating During Coronavirus Outbreak Makes Finding Love Harder Than Ever Before
With the coronavirus outbreak dominating the news, causing widespread cancellations and postponements, it’s pretty hard to avoid hearing about it.
In these uncertain times, it makes sense that people are looking for distractions. Unsurprisingly, one of the most popular ways to kill time for single people in 2020 is using dating apps.
But while you swipe away, it’s worth asking yourself: Will COVID-19 affect your love life? Should it? And if so, in what ways is it important to alter your typical dating behaviors in order to keep you (and your matches) safe?
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In order to get a better idea of what love in the time of corona looks like, here’s some basic research on what health authorities are saying, as well as a medical doctor’s take on dating during COVID-19.
How to Date Safely in the Time of COVID-19
The first thing you should know? Regardless of whether you’re single or dating, if you haven’t already started changing the way you act in order to lower your chances of being infected by the coronavirus, you should start now.
Based on what’s been discovered thus far, the virus is highly contagious and much more deadly — particularly for the elderly and other people with immune system issues — than the flu, to which it’s been compared.
And while you may shrug this off if you’re not in either of those groups, the reality is that you could easily infect those more prone to infection by being careless, catching the infection and passing it on before your symptoms have appeared.
Luckily, as with other forms of illness, the spread of this form of coronavirus can be contained. Your best bets are lots of handwashing and staying indoors whenever possible. Here’s a handy tutorial in case you could use a refresher on the best techniques.
But let’s address what you’re probably curious about: How does that specifically affect your dating life?
“My advice for anyone who has multiple partners is to be careful,” says One Medical’s Michael Richardson, MD. “The COVID-19 situation in the US is in constant flux at the moment, and it will be hard to know if your partner just returned from a high-risk area or may have been exposed to someone with the disease. It may be a good idea to take a break from the dating scene until we learn more on what the spread of the virus looks like in the U.S.”
In other words, meeting up with strangers in order to spend time in close proximity with them isn’t the safest approach when it comes to the coronavirus.
Date Ideas That Lower Your Risk of Testing Positive for COVID-19
If you do end up going on a date with someone — and, again, you probably shouldn’t for the time being — Richardson suggests going the low-key route.
“Netflix and chill is looking like the safest date option given the current situation, but if you are going to go out, picking a less populated space would be best,” he says. “A location where you can be at least 6 feet apart from other guests would be ideal. Any date plans that involve cramped spaces, shared food or don’t allow you to wash your hands easily increase your risk of picking up a virus.”
Instead of heading to a trendy bar, opt for something simple like walk in a spacious park that still allows for conversation without super close contact. And while hand sanitizer isn’t as useful as plain old soap in combating the virus, it’s better than nothing, so it wouldn’t hurt to bring along a little squirt bottle for said walk.
Is Virtual Dating Safer Than IRL Dating?
As companies, organizations and educational institutions struggle to combat the spread of the virus, lots of things are moving online — classes, meetings, conferences and so forth. Livestreaming is the new norm instead of IRL, meaning potentially infected participants or audience members won’t be able to pass the virus on to others.
And yes, this applies to dating, too, but as Richardson points out, going with a FaceTime or Skype date rather than meeting up in person isn’t necessarily going to be the difference-maker in catching COVID-19.
“Delaying in-person meetups would likely lower your risk of transmitting something between you and your partner, but unless you are actively isolating yourself, you are still at risk of picking up the virus in the community or traveling abroad,” he says. “I wouldn’t recommend going on a date to a crowded concert or a romantic getaway in Italy right now, but it’s likely OK to meet up with your partner for something more low key.”
While Richardson notes that thus far most of the confirmed cases in the U.S. appear to be from traveler spread, it’s possible that that changes in the near future will allow the virus to become something you could pick up from someone in your community.
Regardless, suggesting a disease-free video chat date could be a fun way to break the ice that acknowledges the weirdness of living through a global pandemic.
If you’re trying to secure that virtual date during these troubled times, here are some options to help you cast that virus-free net:
Can Coronavirus Be Transmitted Sexually?
Another important thing you should know? If you do meet up, being physically intimate with someone who’s been infected by the coronavirus means there’s an incredibly high chance you’ll catch it, too.
If you’re cool with going on a first date that doesn’t involve any physical contact, go for it, but if the idea of ending the date with an elbow bump instead of a kiss feels depressing, now may not be the best time to ask people out.
And with COVID-19 being a respiratory illness, you can’t catch it from sexual penetration or transmission of semen or vaginal fluids. That said, you can easily catch it from kissing, meaning any typical physical intimacy could lead to transmission.
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“COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets (sneezing, coughing, kissing, etc.) and your risk increases with prolonged close contact (less than 6 feet apart),” says Richardson. “If your partner is not feeling well, probably best to hold off on being intimate with them for the time being and instead show your love by letting them get some rest.”
While it might not be the most fun, if the NBA can postpone their season, you can postpone your dating life for a little bit.
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