How to Date Remotely During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Lady waving at a computer on a video call

 Getty Images

Key Takeaways

  • Quarantine and social distancing guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic have significantly impacted people's social and dating lives.
  • While traditional face-to-face dates may not be on the table, virtual dating provides an opportunity to connect.
  • If you do decide to meet a date in person, follow all local rules about social gatherings and social distance and/or wear a mask.

While concern over the COVID-19 slowly trickled in at the start of 2020, it was business as usual for most of the globe. Then, in March, everyone's world suddenly came to a screeching halt. Social gatherings and travel plans were canceled, and everyday grocery trips have morphed into potential hazards.

Now, the more intricate parts of our lives have started to be impacted, too, including our interpersonal relationships. For instance, those who have just started dating someone new are now experiencing a particularly tricky scenario.

We're excited enough to pursue the relationship—or eager to maintain what we've already built—but are still in that budding phase where you either don’t live together or aren’t intimate enough just yet to warrant routine overnights.

Fostering Romantic Connection

Dating during the COVID-19 pandemic is perfectly OK (there are even some benefits), but the inability to see each other face-to-face comes with inherent challenges. Unless you’ve chosen to take the plunge and quarantine together, you’re effectively dating long distance even if you live in the same city.

While tricky, dating remotely at this time is certainly feasible. Below we’ve outlined specific, actionable ways you can stay better connected and continue fostering your budding relationship.

Avoid Distractions While Chatting

The most important piece of advice when it comes to staying close and connected with your partner is giving them your undivided attention when you’re together (even if you’re physically apart). Giving your undivided attention allows for genuine connection and signals that you're invested in them as a person and partner.

Sanam Hafeez, PsyD

When you’re on the phone together, avoid doing other things that may distract you from what the other person is saying. For example, it’s really easy to have one tab open with your video chat and another scrolling through Facebook. Your significant other can tell when they’re only half-heard, and your eyes say it all.

— Sanam Hafeez, PsyD

Focus on Your Emotional Connection

Social distancing doesn’t have to translate into emotional distancing. Whether your relationship is brand-new or you’ve been dating a few months, consider this an opportune time to get emotionally closer to your partner. Simply communicating regularly and continuing to feel out your connection is a great place to start.

If you’re really committed, Venus Nicolino, PhD, a clinical psychologist and author, recommends starting a shared personal journal on an open Google document.

“Have one person write in the morning and one person write in the evening. The different time gives each partner something to look forward to,” she says. “That diary can consist of your day-to-day thoughts about what you’re feeling and how you're feeling towards each other. It’s something you’re both creating together while simultaneously documenting the life of your relationship through this difficult time.”

Do Something Together Even Though You’re Apart

Shared experiences bring us together and give us something to talk about. For example, while social distancing, you could both choose a book to read at the same time and then set times to discuss it. Not only will it personally relieve stress for each of you and serve as a break from the news cycle, but it’ll promote a deeper connection.

“For one, it gets you talking about interesting stuff. Secondly, research shows that sharing new thoughts and ideas through reading together helps couples maintain intimacy. Thirdly, you’ll learn something about your partner as book choices are incredibly revealing,” says Dr. Nicolino.

Other ideas might include crafting individually and showing off your results or having a cook- or bake-off. The idea is that you’re doing something similar that will allow you to bond even though you’re physically apart. 

Plan Virtual Dates Regularly—and Play the Part 

One of the best parts of dating someone new is exploring and seeing new things together. In a non-social distancing world, that might look like visiting a local museum, going to the movies, or attending a live concert. These are more fun to do in real life, of course, but with the internet on your side, you can have the next best thing: virtual dates.

Museum Tours

“Plenty of museums are offering free virtual tours, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Louvre, and the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. Pick a day and time that works for both of you and get on FaceTime for the virtual tour,” says Dr. Hafeez. “This helps change the pace for you and your partner, keeping things alive and not boring.”

Live Streaming Concerts

Some other ideas include “attending” the same Facebook or Instagram Live concert, virtually exploring a destination in the world, or even making the same meal together and eating it via FaceTime. Dr. Hafeez also recommends going the extra mile by dressing the part!

Sanam Hafeez, PsyD

If you dress nicely and fix your appearance for normal dates, why stop now? Maintaining effort in any relationship is always important. Do your hair, freshen up, and set the mood for you and your partner. Keeping things playful and exciting will make all the difference while you spend time apart.

— Sanam Hafeez, PsyD

Lean Into Sexual Intimacy If It Feels Natural

If you both share a desire to become sexually intimate (or maintain this intimacy), then lean into it. What sets romantic relationships apart from any other relationship is a sexual bond. In the context of social distancing, this might look like steamy text conversations, phone sex, or even FaceTime sex. 

Make Plans for the Future

Looking toward the future is a great way to keep spirits high and remind each other that there’s an end to this temporary upheaval. It also signals that you see promise in your connection and desire to continue your relationship and/or eventually take it to the next level.

“[One idea is to] plan a trip with your significant other for when everything has settled down. Not only does it give you both something to look forward to, but planning an adventure is also a really fun activity for both of you to do. It will help take your minds off the current situation and remind you that this is not temporary,” says Dr. Hafeez.

What This Means For You

You can make a list of things you can’t wait to do together once you’re able to be together physically, whether it’s as small as cooking a meal together, making out, strolling through the park, or planning an adventurous date outdoors. 

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.

By Wendy Rose Gould
Wendy Rose Gould is a lifestyle reporter with over a decade of experience covering health and wellness topics.