The idea of finally seeing your dating app match in the flesh can be both exhilarating and terrifying in 2020. Chances are, those FaceTime dates have gone really well, and you’d like to meet IRL. But along with standard dating concerns, like whether your digital chemistry will translate offline, it’s important to think about how to hang with your quarantine crush without catching or spreading COVID-19. If you’ve been agonizing over how to talk to dates about coronavirus safety, know that your concerns are 100% valid.
The thought of spending face time (not FaceTime) with someone new during a global pandemic can be stressful. The best way to handle the situation is to have an honest, straightforward conversation about your health, the precautions you’re both taking, and what your life looks like these days. But when you’re getting to know someone new, interrupting their Netflix recs or your hot takes on Instagram Reels to ask personal questions about symptoms, masks, and social distancing can feel, well… awkward. Nevertheless, it’s the responsible thing to do.
Below, doctors and dating experts weigh in on how to navigate safety and communicate your needs to your crush without ruining the vibe.
Talk To Your Date About Exposure
Dr. Gwen Murphy, the director of epidemiology and clinical studies at Let’s Get Checked, says your first priority should be to assess the risk of coronavirus in your city and state. "If rates are high in your area, you should stay home," Murphy tells Elite Daily. "If rates are lower and public health guidelines allow it, then you can meet someone."
Once you’ve determined that it’s actually OK to have an IRL date, ask your crush about their COVID-19 exposure. Sure, you two have probably talked about the virus — that’s why your first, second, and third dates were via Zoom or involved Netflix Party. But even though you may generally know your crush’s feelings on the pandemic, you’ve got to be more explicit if you’re going to meet up.
Murphy suggests asking:
- "What is your day-to-day exposure like?"
- "Are you at particularly high risk of infection through your work?"
- "Do you have a roommate who might have a high risk of exposure to coronavirus?"
- "Do you live with someone who might be particularly vulnerable to infection?"
You should also volunteer your own answers to these questions. "How do you feel? If you have any symptoms at all, you should stay home," Murphy says.
Make Your Health A Priority
Consider getting tested for COVID-19 the same way you would for sexually transmitted infections. As Murphy says, "Testing is essential to managing this pandemic. We can’t manage what we can’t see." Nevertheless, she adds, "You can test negative for coronavirus one day and become infected the next day. Testing just gives us a snapshot of infection, at one moment in time."
While it’s not foolproof, it is something. If you and your date are eager to see each other, look up testing centers in your area with quick turnaround times. Dr. Robert Quigley, a regional medical director for health security firm International SOS, told Bustle that some coronavirus test facilities have labs on-site and can deliver results in 30 minutes.
Most places, however, need to send your sample off to a different facility, so you might be in for a wait. What’s more is that some states are experiencing laboratory backlogs. The New York Times also reported in July 2020 that New York City, Phoenix, Austin, New Orleans, and other major cities across the U.S. are experiencing COVID-19 test shortages.
While getting tested might be time-consuming and can’t always guarantee up-to-the-minute accuracy, it can give you both some peace of mind.
Set Your Meet-Up Boundaries
Especially if you’re a woman or non-binary person, you may feel pressure to be "chill" while dating. But remember: Caring about health and safety doesn’t make you uptight — it means you’re responsible. If your date makes you feel like you’re "overreacting," they’re probably not a suitable match for you, anyway.
You should discuss your boundaries ASAP, according to Murphy and Clara Artschwager, a dating and relationship coach. Artschwager recommends saying something like, "Meeting up in person sounds fun. I have to admit, though, this period has been stressful for me and I’ve kept my circle pretty small. I’d love to make something work, so would you be OK hanging out outdoors?" Then, suggest a fun socially-distant date like coffee and a walk. That way, you can convey what you’re comfortable with and why, while also expressing enthusiasm.
"I think being playful and bringing as much humor to the situation as possible, date or not, will serve us all right now," Artschwager tells Elite Daily. For example, add some levity to the situation by offering your date a big, ostentatious air hug when you see them. Or say something tongue-in-cheek like, "I hope you’re not offended if I whip out my hand sanitizer."
Be Mindful Of Close-Contact Risks
The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) do not have explicit guidance on how to get frisky safely during the pandemic, but the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC Health) published a comprehensive guide to COVID-19 and sex in May 2020. This handbook has served many a horny individual across the U.S.
According to NYC Health, COVID-19 spreads through saliva, mucus particles, and droplets from the breath of people with the virus. These are all substances that can be exchanged while making out. "Understand that sex places both partners in very close proximity, and therefore can lead to the exchange of respiratory secretions," Dr. Vincent R. Racaniello, professor of microbiology and immunology at Columbia University, previously told Elite Daily.
As for whether COVID-19 can be spread through anal or vaginal sex, scientists don’t know for certain yet. But past coronaviruses have proven difficult to transmit through intercourse, and according to NYC Health, COVID-19 has been found in the semen and feces of people with the virus.
Because of this, the department recommends against kissing and rimming during hookup sessions with new partners. Along with condoms and dental dams, NYC Health also endorses wearing a mask during sex with partners you haven’t quarantined with — even if you just end up masturbating together.
As you begin your very 2020 hang-out prep, keep in mind that your date expressing contempt for your coronavirus boundaries is a red flag, according to Artschwager. It bears repeating: You’re not overreacting by making sure you’re safe and protected. Anyone who makes you feel like you’re "extra" or "doing the most" isn’t worth your time.
And who knows? Your date may be relieved you suggested COVID-19 testing first, and could be super enthusiastic about bookmarking Tasty recipes for your socially-distant picnic. They might even supply fresh face masks and condoms for when you two finally do the deed.
Talking about these things can be a strange, slightly uncomfortable process. But the discomfort is worth it if in the end you feel safe, relaxed, and genuinely hype when meeting up with your quarantine crush.
Dr. Gwen Murphy, director of epidemiology and clinical studies at Let’s Get Checked
Dr. Robert Quigley, regional medical director for health security firm International SOS
Clara Artschwager, a dating and relationship coach
Dr. Vincent R. Racaniello, professor of microbiology and immunology at Columbia University
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