Dating and partnerships during the pandemic

This is an excerpt from the Center for Student Wellness’ blog. Read the full version here.

Dating can be frightening right now, especially when the scene has moved mostly online. According to Stastica.com, more than half of people on dating apps say they’ve been spending more time looking for prospective partners than they did before the pandemic.

More isolated than ever, we need clever ways to connect and find romance. Personally, I’ve tried pandemic dating and want to share some lessons I’ve learned, along with tips from friends and other U students.

1. Communicate openly to keep you, your lover and your respective circles safe

Now more than ever, boundaries are essential. If your lover is seeing others in person and you aren’t comfortable with that… bye, bye. Early communication about boundaries is an investment toward a positive relationship (and sex life too).

2. Go with the flow

Plans can change quickly. It may be days, weeks, or more between dates because of case spikes and COVID-19 scares. Consider the kind of energy you’re putting into dating. How does it make you feel? Are you falling into the all-too enticing pattern of apocalypse dating, treating every relationship like it’s your last? Almost 1 in 3 zoomers admit to the trend since the pandemic began.

3. Get creative

Yeah, it would be nice to meet at a bar or restaurant, but that’s not in the cards right now. Here are some alternate ideas instead:

  • Stargazing. Bundle up, throw blankets, pillows, and snacks into separate cars. Check out the Full Moon Calendar or the American Meteor Society to plan the best views.
  • “3-2-1” Virtual Movie Night. Screen-share or press play at the same time to catch your partner’s reactions in real-time.
  • Take a masked stroll. Go rollerblading, loop around Liberty Park, or explore the neighborhood.
  • Victorian courting, baby. Send ephemera-filled letters. Write poems. Support USPS. Make and share songs that make you feel giddy.
  • Sunset BYOPicnic. Space out blankets and bring your favorite treats.

4. Quarantine before getting down

Most health advisories take a strict approach to sex during the pandemic. As a sex educator, I’ve learned that abstinence-only approaches aren’t always realistic, but harm reduction is. Health experts suggest that before jumping into bed, isolate for at least one week to avoid unintentionally transmitting COVID.

5. Got a long-term partner? Spice it up

Even the healthiest relationships need growth. Try something new together. Birding, backpacking, tarot, roller skating and more.

6. It’s OK to end a relationship

Honor the level of commitment you can give a relationship right now. If things aren’t working out or it’s bad timing, you are well within your bounds to call it quits. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. Getting dumped sucks. Check out these tunes to help you through. There’s love out there for you, even if this isn’t the right time.

Dating during a pandemic is hard and creativity is key. If you’d like to explore more around this topic, consider requesting a healthy relationships workshop from ACES.