How to Date More Successfully During the Pandemic

People outdoors wearing mask during pandemic virus outbreak

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While the pandemic has upended our dating lives, there are ways to date virtually and in person safely. It’s still possible to find love, so don’t give up.

Here’s more information to help you navigate the dating world during the COVID-19 pandemic.

How Dating Has Changed During COVID

Dating on apps was never trouble-free, but it seems to be more difficult during the pandemic. Finally getting to meet someone now might take weeks or months. Postponement and delays have affected people’s quest to find love.

During a year of unparalleled problems due to a global pandemic, terrible natural disasters and a contentious U.S. election, the effect on singles has been noteworthy.

Singles Are Dating With More Caution

The Match Group, which owns dozens of dating apps including Tinder, OkCupid and Hinge, recently did a comprehensive and scientific study of singles across the US. It showed a markedly different way singles are dating.

Data showed people are being more selective and intentional in choosing who to contact and going more slowly in the dating process. Singles are more upfront in openly addressing serious topics as well.

According to Dr. Helen Fisher, biological anthropologist and Chief Scientific Advisor to Match, people are seeking greater transparency on dates and meaningful relationships instead of casual dating. This shift is largely due to many of the recent turbulent events in the news.

Positive Side of Dating Now

This new approach to dating is good for all. Although it seems like the virus constrains us from all the usual ways we date, it’s important to look at these positives. Due to the pandemic, we have a fresh new way to engage that’s more authentic.

Alexandra Stockwell, MD, relationship and intimacy expert and host of The Marriage Podcast reminds us, “ Prior to Covid, most dating began as superficial, appearance-oriented interactions. It was easy to sidestep meaningful communication and the cultivation of emotional intimacy as fun activities and sensual experiences provided distraction from doing so."

Now, there's an understanding and expectation that we want to get to know someone in a deeper way.

What About Sex?

If you believe people are having fewer sexual relationships these days, you’re right. The Match report shows 71% of singles said they didn't have sex with anyone during the pandemic.

Tina B. Tessina, PhD, psychotherapist and author (also known as Dr. Romance) sees the silver lining in dating now, especially as it relates to sex.

Tessina says, “In my opinion, anything that delays couples from having sex is probably beneficial. It slows down the excitement factor, and gives couples a chance to develop what I call the “infrastructure” of their relationship: the pathways to communicating about their hopes and desires; how to make plans together, and how to solve problems together.

Tessina reminds singles to think about which dates are prioritizing your health. Following guidelines reflects emotional maturity and indicates a person who will be considerate toward you in other ways down the road.

Cultivating Curiosity

Limited by the pandemic, we’ve turned to dating primarily via Zoom calls and texts—and that gets stale quickly.

Answering the same questions on a first date about where you grew up, if you like your work or what you do for fun becomes tiresome. Especially when many of us are dealing with COVID anxiety and are more stressed during these times.

So, how else can you get to know your potential romantic partner? Stockwell suggests “focusing on listening attentively and sharing more vulnerably. One of the best ways to do this is to cultivate curiosity—ask open-ended questions which don’t have a right or wrong answer."

Some examples of questions to ask might be:

  • If you could have dinner with a famous person, past or present, who would it be and why?
  • If you had all the money in the world, what would you do with it?
  • What is your proudest accomplishment?
  • What is your biggest dream?
  • What are you most thankful for?

Stockwell suggests, "When you hear the answers, you will either become fascinated and ask more questions, or become clear that this person doesn’t interest you. Be sure to share about yourself in this way, even if not asked, so you are also revealing who you really are.”

This way of dating, especially at the beginning, also generates interest. Soon after, you can go more deeply about beliefs, values and issues—those serious topics that play a bigger role now in dating.

Get Creative With Your Dates

After a few talk-intensive Zoom or FaceTime calls, you may be fatigued by communicating digitally for work meetings as well as for dates. You’re ready for something fresh. Knowing that you still have to date virtually, but with the desire to get to know each other better, opt for outside-the-box dating activities.

If you come up with fun dates and create novel experiences to share together, you will actually keep the spark going.

Virtual Date Ideas

  1. Watch the same Netflix movie from each of your homes. Enjoy popcorn and make comments during or after the movie.
  2. Read out loud to one another. Either share a poem or novel you love. Or both of you choose a book that you want to read together.
  3. Have a dance party. Get dressed up and learn a TikTok dance together.
  4. Check out the animals on a live webcam. From penguins at the aquarium to African elephants, get into nature without getting outdoors.
  5. Play a video game together or go old-fashioned with cards.
  6. Explore museums or heritage sites together through virtual reality tours.
  7. Volunteer together. Set up a food drive or help tutor children online who are struggling in home school. This kind of date reveals a lot about the other person.
  8. Bake together. Pick a decadent dessert and both bake it at the same time. Top that off with Irish coffee.
  9. Take relationship quizzes together. You can learn about the 5 Love Languages and take the test together.
  10. Do arts and crafts together. Paint, draw or make a collage. 
  11. Attend virtual shows. Get tickets for a live comedy show online. Laugh it up!
  12. Plan for the future. Create a bucket list of fun places to visit and explore together in the future.

Ready to Meet

Let's say you like this new special person and want to meet in real life. The vaccine rollout is making things safer, but you still want to protect loved ones and yourself. The CDC recommends that outdoor activities are the safest choices.

Here are ways to ensure you both have an enjoyable time while getting to know each other. You have many options even if the weather is cold and snowy.

In-Person Date Ideas

  1. Go for a walk or participate in a walking tour of an historic neighborhood.
  2. Set up a stargazing night.
  3. Find a drive-in movie nearby and pack snacks (pajamas are optional).
  4. Wind your way through an outdoor sculpture garden.
  5. If the weather is warm, go cycling or mountain biking.
  6. For colder weather, rock climb or ski.
  7. Meet at an outdoor café.
  8. Roast marshmallows over a fire pit.
  9. Go on a photography trek and take photos of lovely buildings, churches or lakes in your area.
  10. Roller-skate or ice-skate.

Note: If you do meet in person, just be sure to follow COVID guidelines and limit the date’s duration.

A Word From Verywell

While dating has been negatively affected by the pandemic, it has also changed in positive ways. For example, daters have become more discriminating and are getting around to the serious stuff much sooner than before.

Despite the hardship of COVID, there are ways to meet new people online and later in person while still remaining cautious and following protocols.

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Article Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. The Match Group. Singles in America. 2021

  2. PR Newswire. Match Releases 10th Annual Singles in America Survey, Revealing How 2020 Has Transformed Dating. Published October 6, 2020.

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Participate in Outdoor and Indoor Activities. Updated Jan. 14, 2021.