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Love in the time of Covid

Andria
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KEEPING IT SIMPLE

KEEPING IT SIMPLE Quarantine dating means casual, outdoor meet-ups. (illustration: behance.net/runamokstudios)

The quarantine has raised lots of questions: Can we see our families? How close is too close? Should we be going to stores, restaurants, hair salons?

For people who are single, it’s raised another question: How is anyone supposed to date when even riding in cars together is risky? A group of friends in their 20s laughed and said, “What do you mean, ‘How do you date during Covid?’ You don’t.”

But others say that while quarantine dating is different, it’s not as hard as it sounds.

A recently divorced, outgoing mother of three says that pandemic dating is actually simpler than dating under normal circumstances. She used the dating app Bumble and has met five men since mid-April. Her last date was the first of many more with the same person.

“Here’s how you date in the time of Covid,” she tells us. “At some point, [the date will] say, ‘How is the pandemic treating you?’ and ‘Have you been out?’ and ‘Are you comfortable going out?’ The next question will be, ‘Do you want to go out?’ and the great thing is you get to pick wherever you want to go.

“For the first date, literally, it was either walk in the neighborhood or walk in Memorial Park. I’d wear a baseball hat, shorts and a tank top. No makeup. We’d leash our dogs up and just walk and talk. And we’d be sweating, and I’d be like, ‘This is me!’”

She also likes that the dates have a natural end when the walk is over. “You get in your car and he gets in his, and either you meet again or you don’t.”

After meeting four men, the fifth one stood out. “I thought his smile was really cute, and his profile was really funny. On our second date, we sat outside at Hungry’s because it was about the time we all were dying to go out to dinner. We talked all night until they said they were closing and we had to go. We’ve been inseparable since Memorial Day.”

A down-to-earth, levelheaded, financial advisor who has been single for 11 years said he didn’t date at all in the beginning of the quarantine. “March, April, dating for me was pretty much on standby,” he says. “Everything was closed for six weeks anyway.

“But what do you do? As time goes by, you realize this may go on forever, and I’m not just going to stay at home. You’ve got to live your life.”

The man says he feels safe meeting dates to play tennis, or to order drinks on an outdoor patio. “I’m not going to a lot of restaurants or things like that. I guess there has to be some faith that the person you’re with doesn’t feel like she has symptoms.

“It’s not hard to meet people online. What is hard is being patient and focusing on one.”

Others are nervous to meet too many people. “It’s interesting, the discussion that comes up quickly about monogamy,” says a nonprofit executive and mother of two teenagers. “I’m not talking about intimacy. You can’t be dating a ton of people when just sitting next to someone on a couch watching a movie is significant. Even if you’re being safe, if he’s seeing two people, well, who does she see? Your exposure changes dramatically.”

Still, she says, “The desire to date is greater because the pandemic and isolation make it ever more obvious how truly alone you are, and that is not something I want. I want a partner.”

The woman adds, “You’re restricted to online opportunities like dating apps because being social or participating in areas of interest like a running club or going to the gym is impossible.” She has gone on several pandemic dates outside, socially distanced, and she has tried virtual dates: “They’re exactly as they sound, like Zoom calls,” she says. “A first video date can help you know if you’re fairly certain it’s not going to be a connection. But the second video date provides very little. At some point, you need to meet in person.”

Trying to understand each other, she says, is key. “I think some people think it’s strange to date during the pandemic. There’s a lack of understanding from married couples. Just like there’s a lack of understanding from single people what it’s like to be quarantined with your spouse.”

Dating, married or on hold, it’s a new world.

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