How TF Can You Date While Social Distancing?

Hey, remember last July when we were actually able to enjoy life go out and meet new people at beach bars during the day, then local bars at night? Same. Now, thanks (but no thanks) to COVID-19, the chances of meeting anyone this year are super low, especially if you’re trying to score a summer fling. So how are you supposed to ~find love~ while social distancing in summer 2020? Don’t be discouraged. Dating is still a thing, but just a bit different.

“In the face of the current pandemic, an emphasis should be placed on ‘physical distancing’ rather than ‘social distancing,’” says Dr. Tali Elfassy, PhD, epidemiologist and public health expert of The Meet Group’s Safer Dating Advisory Board. “In fact, during this time, we may all require more (not less) social support, and that, of course, includes love.” Preach. Now go try these five tips to find a boo this summer that are definitely safer than dating IRL, effective, and worth a shot until we can date normally again.

1. Use Dating Apps

To literally nobody’s surprise (I hope), dating apps are the best way to find a relationship this summer. “Dating apps, especially those that offer live video capabilities, are the safest way to make new connections this summer while physically distancing,” confirms Dr. Elfassy. “I highly recommend using them as a way to vet potential partners and therefore reduce the number of potentially unnecessary in-person encounters.” So yeah, apps like Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, and Ship are gonna be where you’ll actually “meet” anyone right now. Then once you’ve met that person you’re maybe into, you can take it from there with the next few steps.

2. Video Chat

“We can’t beat around the bush and pretend that having dates via [FaceTime or] Zoom is ideal, but this is a new normal, and we need to accept that,” says Gigi Engle, certified sex coach and author of All The F*cking Mistakes: A Guide to Sex, Love, and Life. Hitting us with the hard truth right out the gate… harsh, but fair. To make the most out of a potentially awkward scenario, she suggests fully leaning into the experience by lighting some candles and throwing on a relaxing playlist. “Make an effort to turn your home into a romantic destination, because that’s what we need right now,” she adds. If you want to keep things more casual, head to my favorite room in your home instead: the place with the food. Engle recommends planning a cooking date together via Zoom. “Make the same dish and get to know each other from your kitchens. It’s cute and fun.”

3. Go On Physically Distanced Dates

Sick of video chats? We have good news. As certain states are entering late phases of re-opening, you can actually grab drinks with your date… as long as you stay six feet apart and respect each other’s boundaries. “In these uncertain times, it’s crucial for both you and your potential partner to value your health and safety,” says Dr. Elfassy. She explains that this means asking each other questions like whether or not you’ve recently experienced COVID-19 symptoms or been in contact with someone who has, checking state and local regulations, and all that other fun stuff. 

“If both parties are comfortable meeting in person, I recommend keeping first dates outside and in public where COVID-19 is less transmittable,” she adds. “Have a physically distanced picnic in a park or take a walk. If you must go inside or cannot properly physically distance, be sure to wear a mask or other face covering.” If you’re gonna do it, be safe about it, OK? Remember we’re still in a damn pandemic. Don’t risk anyone’s lives just because you’re thirsty.

4. Prioritize Open Communication

Let’s face it. 2020 has been wild for all of us, and if you disagree, you’re lying. Being honest and upfront with potential partners about how we’re feeling, what we want, and what we need can go a long way, especially when it comes to building a solid foundation for your relationship. “[The pandemic] has slowed things down and given us a unique opportunity to embrace getting to know one another emotionally and on a more connected level,” says Engle. “Be really clear about your intentions and what you’re looking for. We have better opportunities to really look for people we can connect with, if that’s what [you want]. There are really no rules on how to make love work right now. We all just have to go with the flow.”

And if you’re feeling weird about the whole ~virtual dating~ thing, join the club. “This is a strange time for everyone, and we’re all just looking for intimacy and closeness,” reminds Engle. So just say how you feel because if you don’t, ignoring the discomfort can potentially make things worse. “This is a great time to embrace the real you and all your awkwardness. What’s the worst that could happen? They don’t video call you again? You’ll be fine. If you can’t be yourself with someone, what’s the point?”

Open communication extends to the actual dates, too. Jordana Abraham, Betches co-founder and co-host of the U Up? podcast, says, “as things open up and people start to go on dates IRL, it’s important to be super clear about what you’re comfortable with (wearing a mask the whole date, eating inside vs. outside at restaurants, not doing anything physical) so that the person is on the same page as you from the start. Everyone has different standards for what they consider ‘safe’ dating so I’d casually bring up what you’re okay with before actually going on the date.”

5. Love Yourself First

This may be the last tip on the list, and it may sound cheesy AF, but it’s actually really great advice, so listen up. The most guaranteed way to find love this summer is by loving your damn self. I mean, it’s easier said than done which is why I’m in therapy, but still. “Embracing self-love can take many different forms,” says Engle. “It doesn’t need to be a quick ‘lay the vibrator on the clit for a one-and-done’ situation. Take luxurious baths, eat French chocolates, and read erotic literature to get [yourself] in the mood.” But it definitely can be a vibrator type situation (if you want it to be). Masturbating rules for self-care and so many other reasons. “When you know what brings you pleasure, you begin to cultivate the tools you need to relay those desires to a partner,” Engle adds. You owe it to yourself and your future partner(s) to practice loving yourself during this wild time. 

So, there we have it. Finding love IS still possible this summer despite the world being an actual dumpster fire. And if all else fails, at least we have trusty option #5.

Images: Toa Heftiba / Unsplash, GIPHY (5)