Author: Scott Johnson

Dating is one of those fundamental human activities – and one, that for some parts of the population, I fear we are losing. Last year, for a different project, I spent quite a bit of time on habit formation and my fundamental take away was that the creation of new habits takes 60 days. And, by any measure, we are at least 120 days into the pandemic (I go from March 10 or so; others go longer). So if you are taking the pandemic seriously, you are likely starting to build a "anti-dating" habit.

Part 1: How Do You Date Safely?

If you are going to date in the age of COVID-19 then, for me, the fundamental thing you need to first do is assess your risk. This starts with your own health and the health of people in your immediate household and the degree to which you feel that COVID is dangerous for yourself and your household.

Let me give an example. I know a woman and her children who have been on extreme lock down since the start of this (not going out; groceries delivered; no guests; meet people at the door for porch drops and talk through a screen door). And while she doesn't feel she's at risk of getting badly sick if she gets COVID, she does have her mother living with her during all this and her mother is seriously immunocompromised. So for her, the danger of possibly getting COVID entirely outweighs the value of dating during this period.

All my male friends are going to want to slug me but here's the secret to dating safely:

  • Communicate
  • Communicate
  • Communicate

(Cue obligatory Hank Hill joke here "There are some things that Hank Hill just will not do!")

But let's say that, for you, the risk of COVID doesn't outweigh the benefit of dating, well, that brings us to communication. I'm not going to touch the issue of masking; that is your choice. What I am going to suggest is that if you want to date safely then you likely want anyone you date to have an alignment with your personal practices for protection. And this, dear reader, is very similar to safe sex practices. If you believe in condoms then you only want to date someone who also believes in condoms.

Here are some of the questions that I'd want to ask someone before I dated them:

  • Are you masking when you go out?
  • Are the other people in your household masking?
  • Are you social distancing?
  • Are the other people in your household social distancing?
  • Are you going to any type of large gathering place (example - restaurants, bars, churches)?
  • A parallel question about the other people in your household
  • Are you constraining your non house bound activities?
  • A parallel question about the other people in your household

If I was to date then I would be looking for alignment on most of these issues.

Part 2: What Does Dating in the Age of COVID Look Like?

Although it might be boring, I would argue that the traditional date structure looks something like one of these:

  • Dinner in a Restaurant
  • Drinks in a Bar
  • Attending a Concert or Other Mass Gathering
  • Going to a movie

All of those options are effectively off the table in the age of COVID. Even with restaurants limiting seating, I personally no longer feel comfortable eating in any restaurant that doesn't have widely spaced outdoor seating. So that brings up the question of what dates can you have? Here are some ideas:

Lower Risk Dating Ideas

  • Having a class of wine, outside, more than 6 feet apart
  • A 1:1 Zoom Chat or Google Meet or Facebook Video Chat
  • Getting take out and going to a park
  • Making food and having a picnic
  • Hiking
  • Going to the beach
  • Video Gaming
  • Canoeing or other outdoor activities like zip lining
  • Meeting in a parking lot and talking through car windows parked side by side (yep this would be an awkward 1st date; welcome to 2020!)

Higher Risk Dating Ideas

  • Cooking food together at home
  • Eating at a restaurant with outdoor dining
  • Going to a drive in movie
  • Board Games
  • Using a laptop or Tablet to download a movie, placing it on the dash and watching it together in a secluded parking lot for a "drive in experience"
  • Camping (yes this would be a more serious date analogous to a weekend getaway)