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Keep it distant

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The creeping loneliness of life under a pandemic comes from both directions. You, if you’re taking care of your health, must choose to be substantially less social than in normal life, and in the times that you do want to see other people and can be completely safe about it, it’s harder to arrange since they are probably choosing the same. Things are relaxed enough that you can get away with hanging out with your friends from time to time without much issue, but dating, especially new people, is a more daunting task than ever.

If you are looking to meet new people, there is a good chance you’ve moved things online already, as have many others. Bars have a higher than usual chance of murdering your internal organs these days. But while finding matches might be a little easier, the actual dating process is not. Having to suss out how comfortable the other person is being in public has by this point been fully integrated into the already awkward ritual of messaging them on whatever app until you’ve completed the requisite amount of small talk to feel confident in agreeing to meet up, and there is a good chance they will understandably say “not at all.” You wouldn’t be too paranoid in not being comfortable meeting a relative stranger in-person either. You don’t know where they’ve been, or whether they are the type of person to not cover their nose with their mask for some inexplicable reason. If you’re in a relationship, the pandemic probably isn’t as big of a problem, though you still may find yourselves pretty distant if circumstances dictate you don’t isolate together.

Even if both of you are comfortable going out, you’ll probably find there is a lack of things to do. Sure, restaurants are open, but it really doesn’t seem like a good idea to dine out that often since just about every province and state that has re-opened restaurants and retail spaces has seen a spike in infections shortly after, and in my own experience, maintaining proper social distancing is near impossible in practice, regardless of how careful the particular establishment is. With winter looming, outdoor dates are going to be essentially out of the picture as well.

All of the extra barriers might convince you to cease all efforts. It’s hard enough to navigate the pandemic on your own.

However, an increasingly popular but still understated trick is that you can have a perfectly fine date over a video call. Many will hesitate because it seems impersonal to the point of defeating the purpose or just because it seems a little awkward to talk into a box for an entire evening, and this might even be true, at first. However, not only does it solve all of your infectious disease-related prob lems, once you get used to it, it can actually be nice to get to know a person in the most low-pressure environment on earth: physically alone in your own home.

There are a ton of articles already on the web suggesting what to actually do on a video date. Honestly, a lot of them are forced, and some are pretty corny — you can go on a virtual tour of a museum, attend a streamed concert, or cook the same recipe and have dinner together. If the two of you have some strongly shared interest from the start, then some of these might be fun, but the truth is, it doesn’t much matter what you do. For new dates, it’s all about getting to know the other person anyways, and in the early days, a lot of that can easily be done over video. Just hang out and talk if you want to. Who cares? You could just show them how cool your apartment is, now without any of the implications of inviting them over.

If you do feel you want to meet in-person after a while, all you have to do is casually slip in questions like “how many times a day do you wash your hands?” or “have you been experiencing any of the following: fever or chills, coughing, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, or headaches?” into the conversation. But you don’t have to worry about all that yet. For the time being, just take what is essentially a night off and get to know each other from the comfort and isolation of your respective living rooms.

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