It goes without saying at this point but we’ll say it anyway: a lot has changed since the COVID-19 outbreak. Music festivals and concerts are gone, team sports are all on hold and even going to the grocery store feels like navigating a minefield. Plus, any single person can tell you that dating has changed. Dramatically.
Dating during a quarantine isn’t impossible, it’s just, well, different. Going out for drinks isn’t just frowned upon, it’s downright impossible in most states. But just because you can’t go to your usual first date spot, that doesn’t mean you can’t still date. In fact, from where we’re sitting, this isn’t such a bad thing for single people at all.
But why take our word for it? Well, instead of just spewing rhetoric from the comfort of our own couches, we did some digging. We asked a handful of singles in Los Angeles how they were dating during the pandemic. And overwhelmingly, the response was positive.
“I like it a lot more. And coming out of COVID I would do a FaceTime date first,” says Kazia O when asked how the quarantine has changed her usual dating habits.
And Tommy from LA? Well, he had a bit more to say: “As a writer, this actually works for me, because I’m really good at expressing myself over text and messages. It’s much less awkward than having to find a conversation starter face-to-face, and you can think about what you want to say or share without being put on the spot.”
Remember awkward conversations in loud and crowded bars? That’s all gone. Remember the cost of first or second dates? An Uber, plus a round of drinks or dinner, was always more expensive than you wanted it to be. And if those dates came to nothing more than a fading texting relationship, it often felt like a waste.
But now you don’t have to stress or worry about any of that. Yes, it does suck you can’t see people as freely as before — and, obviously, hook-up culture is on pause at the moment — but don’t hang up that bow just yet, cupid. There are plenty of ways to spark some love from home. All you need is a bit of patience, some creativity and some Tinder (well, actually Bumble and Hinge might work better, but more on that later).
Below, we’ll walk you through how to date during quarantine, from picking the right dating apps to dressing the part. We’ll even share some clever virtual date ideas to keep things interesting as we wait out this whole social distancing thing.
Why Dating During a Quarantine Isn’t So Bad
Right. Let’s add up the tallies in the “Pro” column.
Dating during a quarantine has plenty of benefits. For starters, you can forget about the cost of endless first dates. You can also quit worrying about (most) of your outfit. Until Social Distancing is no more, you only need to be presentable from the waist up. Handsome up top, basketball shorts and Yeezy slides down below.
Next, no need for excuses. If a FaceTime date isn’t going well, it’s much easier to get out quickly. We’re not saying you should just cut the line, but something as simple as, “Oh shoot, my mom is calling me. I should jump but it was nice chatting with you!” can work. And if you’re at all nervous about awkwardly chatting with a stranger’s face on your phone, there are ways to limit the awkwardness.
“You can set a time limit, like: ’30 minutes and then I have virtual plans’,” says Kazia. No more needing to find hours of conversation floating around a bar.
Finally, you can actually get to know somebody before seeing them in person, blowing right past that first date uncertainty. Okay, fine, we’ll admit it, first dates are often kind of weird. It’s easy to put too much pressure on yourself and totally blow it, even if things were going well. Starting slow with texting and phone calls lets you, like Tommy mentioned, build up a connection. And, really, there’s no rush. Neither of you is going anywhere for the time being.
Finally, many single people have found that with sex off the table during these early conversations, a lot of the pressure is off. Sure, the lack of physical connection is definitely a huge “con” in this equation, but that’s the silver lining.
How to Find a Date During Quarantine
Awesome. Dating is now easier and can be done from home. Cool, cool. But how does one find a date in the first place?
Same as before, pal: setups and the internet. Odds are you’re well aware of both of these matchmaking options. However, don’t think just because you can’t physically meet people that these tried and true options are now obsolete. Setups still totally work and apps are the exact same as always. There are plenty of bored singles in your area looking to meet someone. So pluck up your courage and get out there (virtually speaking, of course).
Here are our top two apps when it comes to dating.
Hinge is a great app because it doesn’t include swiping. Yes, you read that right, swiping sort of sucks. The issue with swiping is that it always made it too easy to view the app, and therefore your dating life, like a game. Hinge changes the formula by forcing you to fill out a more robust profile (with question prompts and pictures). Then, when it comes to liking somebody, you simply like a prompt or pic on their profile and write a note. This makes it a bit more personal and gives you something to talk about right away. Nothing wrong with a built-in conversation starter.
Bumble is like Tinder but for people who actually want to date instead of just arranging questionable hookups. It has a similar swiping mechanic, but the big difference is that girls get to make the first move. Which, honestly, we’re not mad about from a guy’s perspective. Opening lines can be tricky at best, so this takes the pressure off of us while vastly improving the experience for women. The free version gives unlimited swipes (which can be dangerous with nothing to do during a pandemic), but it’s a great way to meet other single people.
Looking for something else? Yes, we left off Tinder. No hate for the app that arguably started the social dating world, but for us, Tinder was always more about hookups than quality connections. Now that times have changed a bit, that’s not necessarily the case, but still, if you’re looking to actually date (you dog, you), we’d recommend Hinge and Bumble over Tinder any day.
What to Wear and How to Prep For a FaceTime Date
Now that you’ve got your date set, you should think about the prep work. Before we dive in, don’t overthink this part. Yes, you want to tidy up a bit (at the very least make the parts they’ll see on camera look nice), but you don’t have to go crazy. Also, test your lighting and camera angles before the date starts. You want to put your best digital face forward, and you can’t do that with dim lighting and unflattering angles.
As Spencer from LA put it: “I cleaned up the space behind me, made sure I was FaceTiming from a good angle with some conversational/interesting things in the background…but generally kept it casual. I didn’t want to upstage the guy or make him feel like he should’ve gone out of his way to be fancy.” Video dates give an unprecedented view into someone else’s home. But, we are in the middle of a pandemic. You’re forgiven for having a slightly messy apartment. That being said, remember that your home says a lot about you, so think carefully about the image you’re presenting to your potential paramour.
But what to wear? Again, keep it simple and casual. You don’t need to wear a tie and a blazer. Go with a simple T-shirt if it’s casual, or a button-down or sweater if it’s a fancier date (think cooking date or drinks). This shows effort but doesn’t make you look overzealous.
Below we grabbed a couple great options we would reach for back in the pre-COVID world which still work great today.
Everlane The Linen Band Collar Shirt
We love this black collarless shirt from Everlane. Black is incredibly easy to match, which makes this one an easy pick up. You can pair with black pants or chinos (if you decide to ditch the basketball shorts) and leave it open over a white T-shirt. You can even dress up this shirt by wearing it under a sweater if you get to date three or four and want to class it up a bit. Also, thanks to the linen fabric, this is a breathable option that won’t make you overheat now that we’re getting on to the warmer months.
Naadam Cashmere Crew Neck Sweater
Another great option for a more formal date is this cashmere crew neck from Naadam. It’s simple, easy to pair with jeans or chinos, and comes in a fair selection of color options. We personally dig the olive as it’s a bit unique. Plus, just look at that cashmere. She’ll be able to tell how soft it is through the screen.
J.Crew Washed Jersey Tee
If the date is a very casual one, even too casual for the options above, go with a classic like this washed jersey tee from J.Crew. The crew neck cotton tee features a timeless and comfortable design that will never go out of style, plus it’s available in three different fits — classic, tall and slim. Not to mention, it’s available in a variety of color options regardless of the cut you choose.
Social Distancing Date Ideas
So you’ve got a special someone you’ve been chatting with back and forth over text. You’ve also got a slew of great clothing options for dating in quarantine. Now what? The easiest step is to ask them out on a video chat date. And our advice? Make it either a coffee date or a drinks date, and keep it brief. If you aren’t a big drinker, aim for a mid-morning chat over the weekend (or week, work permitting). You can both pour a cup of coffee and tea and chat away!
If you both are cool with drinks, you can likewise opt for a date over drinks, wherein you both sit and chat casually while sipping your drink of choice. This gives you a bit more flexibility, as you could plan to meet during the week or weekend.
Either way, set the precedent ahead of time that it’ll be brief. Allude to a video call with your family in 45 minutes from the beginning of the date. This takes off the pressure if it’s awkward and gives both of you an automatic out. And hey, if that 45 goes by in a flash, more reason to shoot for a second date.
Now, let’s say your first (and maybe second?!) date went well. What’s next? Yes, you can FaceTime into infinity, but you can also be much more creative, especially with our help.
Take a look at our list of dating ideas below (inspired by our single friends Kazia, Tommy and Spencer):
Virtual Dinner Date
Whether you’re good cooks or not doesn’t matter, try cooking together anyway. No, not physically, but virtually. To do this, pick an easy recipe that both of you would enjoy. Then, go ahead and order all the required ingredients (bonus points if you offer to pay for your date’s ingredients), and get cooking. Not only will this give you something to talk about, but it also gives you something to do outside of just starring at your phone or computer screen.
Word of advice: don’t take it too seriously. If your date whips up a picture-perfect dish and your version looks horrific, it’s all the more fun. Just have a good sense of humor about it and you’ll do just fine.
Looking for a conversation topic? How ’bout 36 of them. The New York Times came up with 36 questions to ask on a date, and this website offers a fantastic structure for an early date. Simply scroll through the questions, alternating who asks who, and answering them honestly. If any of them feel weird or too invasive, just skip them. But regardless of how many you ask, you’ll undoubtedly find a great rhythm and plenty to chat about.
If you’re both comfortable with this (and you live close enough), try going for a walk to a local park. There are a lot of factors these days that make getting physically close to somebody difficult. So don’t be pushy. That said, walking at a socially acceptable distance is a very nice way to spend an afternoon. Also, if you want to be extra safe, you can always chat on the phone on opposite sides of the street. Is it absurd? Of course. But so is living indoors like mole people, and well, here we are. Don’t knock it until you try it. But again, if your date isn’t quite comfortable “hanging out” with people yet, don’t be pushy.
A Final Word for Everyone in a Relationship
In a lot of ways, the virus has forced us to go back to the old school ways of dating. That means if you have a significant other, or things are starting to get serious with your quarantine date, don’t overlook some old school classics. Send flowers, write letters or even send a care package with a few of their favorite things. There are plenty of brands out there that still deliver. Don’t underestimate the power of an unexpected gift.