If you’re one of the millions of single Aussies stuck at home with no Kath to your Kel, fear not – you’re not alone. “How to date” was the most searched phrase on Google in Washington DC last week, proving that rolling solo is a global problem right now. But dating during COVID doesn’t have to be as hard as it is.
We get it. Being single can have its setbacks at the best of times. Add prolonged isolation and you have a thirsty, but socially degenerate, population of singles across the globe. It’s hard to seem interesting when you’ve done nothing of note for weeks and your conversational skills are receding faster than your hairline.
Here are five tips on how to date in a persistent pandemic, when anxiety is high and you’ve forgotten how to communicate.
COVID Dating – A Complete Guide 
1. Dating apps are great, you just need to slow down
Get around the dating apps. They are the best (and perhaps only) way to connect right now. Though you should probably forget about your pre-pandemic hit rate – it’s now a completely different ball game.
Converting quickly from an app to an IRL catchup used to be essential. But our swiping habits have since shifted to a ‘slow dating’ format and people are chatting on the apps for much longer.
Bumble has reported over two-thirds of their users are taking more time to get to know their match, before meeting in real life; partially due to health safety, partially due to us collectively reprioritising what is most important. Meeting up with friends and family, after all, beats meeting a stranger we’ve only exchanged GIFs with.
If your usual queue of matches is now dust in the wind, don’t be disappointed. Consider the upside: the quality of the chat is probably much higher, and the rate of flakiness is probably much lower. Most people have had enough solitude to sort out their shit out and stop wasting other people’s time.
2. Avoid doomsday chat
Treat the apps like an escape. You’re there to vibe, flirt, and have fun. Leave the bloke who obsessively checks daily case numbers out of the chat.
If your match asks how your day is going, never respond enraged, linking an article about people breaking stay-at-home orders (true story). If you can’t avoid the elephant in the room, offer a lighthearted and positive spin on things. Definitely stay clear of conspiracy theories and don’t even think about touching the pandora’s box of vaccines. Seriously.
Instead, share the skills you’ve nailed in your downtime, like perfecting your plating up with Providoor, or the number of ways you’ve injured yourself since you started lockdown running. Coming up short? Here are 101 things you can pretend you’ve done.
3. The half-way meet-up… a video date
It takes 21 days to create a habit. So you’ll need to progress from the chat eventually, or else you run the risk of premature escalation: too much pre-date chat that spells disaster when you meet.
You’re probably going to tap out at the thought of video chat, given how much of your work life is spent on Zoom. For what it’s worth, video chat dates aren’t as horrendously awkward as they sound. In fact, it can be a massive time-saver, lockdown or no lockdown. You’ll quickly weed out the timewasters – just be sure to have a stiff Negroni in hand.
It can become strangely normal quite quickly. And you get past the gatekeeper right away. See into their bedroom on the first date. Simply treat it as an introduction and vibe check. Then, if it goes down well, take the next step.
4. Know your limits, meeting IRL
It’s time to find a happy medium for meeting up because there is simply no substitute for face to face (or mask to mask) dating.
However, some people genuinely have fears around meeting up, due to immunocompromised mates or family members. You never know someone else’s situation, so don’t apply pressure and overstep the mark. Some apps have filters and badges to help you identify peoples level of comfort with meeting up, and their vaccination status.
Throw out a few options and see what sticks. Depending on the restrictions in the areas you love, ask if they’re cool with meeting up for a takeaway coffee, or even better, a joint that serves takeaway cocktails.
If you’re not getting a straight answer, ask instead what they are comfortable doing. Don’t go in harder or faster. Persistence won’t win here. And please don’t throw shade on her dismissing an invitation to your place. For women, meeting in public is simply safer. It has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the idiots who have come before you. Don’t take it personally.
5. Remember jeans? Show up.
Did you think dating would magically become less superficial after all the COVID related obstacles we’ve gone through together this past year? Cute… but no. Don’t rock up in your actual ISO outfit, or you will end up getting roasted in the girl’s group chat.
Nailing your first impression is still key. If rules mandate wearing masks, try rocking up a few minutes early so you can avoid being late and flustered with fogged glasses. It’s a terrible look, so sort yourself out.
If it has been a while since you’ve been around other humans, remember the basics of body language. Generally, we give pretty open body language when we’re having a good time: eye contact, a smile, uncrossed arms, open gestures… If you sense she’s edging backwards when you edge closer, take a step back.
Approaching in the wild
Stay-at-home orders or not, you still have the opportunity to meet your Kath in the wild (read: essential retail locations). If isolation has given you the impetus to live in the moment and ask out strangers in the grocery aisle, remember to…
- Start slow
If you’ve been starved of human interaction, absolutely do not just leap on the first chick you see. Start upping your casual smalltalk game with your barista or neighbours to regain confidence.
- Have low expectations
Some people find being approached by strangers completely obnoxious and intrusive. If you get an undesired reaction, don’t overthink it and definitely don’t apologise. Just move on. Once again, don’t take it personally.
- Find common ground
If you notice something (anything) you have in common, even the same coffee order, latch on to it and use it as leverage for a chat.
- Have your follow-up, ready
If you’re making genuine progress with someone you see regularly at your local cafe, drop in, “Same time tomorrow?” If not, having your phone at the ready and asking for their number will appear far smoother than rummaging around your pockets for it.
It’s in your own best interest to improvise, adapt, and overcome the complexities of dating during COVID. Why? Because you’ll be in the top percentile of blokes to reap the rewards at the end of this shitshow, finding whatever you’re looking for in love. Enjoy a Hot Vax Summer, if you will.
Depending on how successful dating during COVID proves for you, check out this guide on how to take a seriously good dick pic (according to a woman)