How to Date More Successfully During the Pandemic

Dating during the pandemic

Verywell / Nez Riaz

While the pandemic has upended our dating lives, there are ways to date virtually and to meet in person safely. It’s still possible to find love, so don’t give up. Here’s what you need to know 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 became much more difficult during the pandemic. Finally getting to meet someone often took 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 was noteworthy.

Dating With More Caution

The Match Group, which owns dozens of dating apps including Tinder, OkCupid, and Hinge, did a comprehensive study of singles across the US. It showed that the way people were dating was markedly different than in the past.

Data showed people were being more selective and intentional about choosing who to contact and going more slowly in the dating process. The study also found that singles were more upfront in openly addressing serious topics as well.

According to Helen Fisher, PhD, 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 changes resulting from the pandemic altered the usual ways that people date, it’s important to look at the positives. Due to the pandemic, many people now have a fresh way to engage that’s more authentic.

Alexandra Stockwell, MD, relationship and intimacy expert and host of The Marriage Podcast, suggests, “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 people 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. Those who follow safety guidelines show emotional maturity, indicating a person who will be considerate toward you in other ways down the road.

Cultivating Curiosity

Limited by the pandemic, many people turned to dating primarily via Zoom calls and texts. What many people found, however, is that this 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 grows tiresome. This is especially when many still cope with COVID anxiety and increased stress in general.

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 [it will] 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 into 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. While you might still be dating 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 with virtual 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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends outdoor activities as the safest choices. 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, be sure to follow COVID safety guidelines and limit the date’s duration.

A Word From Verywell

While the pandemic had a negative effect on dating in many regards, it also led to some positive changes. For example, daters have become more discriminating and are getting around to the serious stuff much sooner than before.

Despite hardships, there are ways to meet and get to know new people online—and later, in person—while still remaining cautious and following protocols.

3 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.

  2. PR Newswire. Match releases 10th annual Singles in America Survey, revealing how 2020 has transformed dating.

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Participate in outdoor and indoor activities.

By Barbara Field
Barbara is a writer and speaker who is passionate about mental health, overall wellness, and women's issues.