The List: How to navigate dating in a pandemic

Earlier this year, I had a virtual movie date on Teleparty (formerly Netflix Party). My date created an invitation and sent it to me via WhatsApp. I’d never heard of Teleparty so he went on to help me install it and that night we watched About Time. It was the most romantic thing a guy had ever done for me. After days of virtual meetings, I really appreciated the time and effort. 

We are hardwired to connect with other people. It is in our DNA to connect. But dating can be difficult. It meant dealing with a lot of awkward situations. Then the pandemic arrived and created even further challenges. So how have people adapted to dating in a global pandemic? Here are some tips. 

First things first: Make sure you’re ready.

Be honest with yourself. Reflect on whether you are dealing with general dating anxiety. It might be anxiety caused by feeling unsafe about dating right now. If it’s the latter, remember it’s okay to wait until you feel comfortable. There’s no rush. Preparing to date may be the only step you need to take right now.

Make it clear what you want.

If you are ready to date, expressing to others what you are looking for can help spare wasted dating effort. Don’t wait until you have already invested too much effort before asking important questions. If something is important to you, enquire about it early. It’s always better to know who someone really is as soon as you can. Before meeting in person, don’t be afraid to ask questions such as: Are you married? Do you ever want to get married? Have you ever been engaged or married? How long was your longest relationship? Why did it end? Do you want to have children? What do you think about children?


Have virtual dates first.

If nothing else, the pandemic has caused a slowing down of the process. If you are the “jump into bed first, ask questions later” type of person, this is the time to take it slow. Virtual dates give you the time to really get to know the other person on a more intimate and emotional level. It allows you to observe the other person from a distance while you decide if you want to meet in person. (when it’s safe to do so, of course) 

Planning ahead can help make a virtual date feel less awkward. Here are some tips.

Prep your space. Set the stage as you would for an in person date. A tidy background, for example, can communicate a strong first impression. This may mean making the bed or clearing that sink full of dishes. 

Treat it as much as possible as a normal date

Minimise distractions. If you’re constantly checking your phone, you might give them the impression you’re not into the date. Switching your phone to silent and putting it out of sight can help reduce any temptation to check it. Try as much as possible to make sure your space is quiet and distraction-free.

Date ideas

Decide on a theme for the date ahead of time. Dates always have a theme because they’re built around a shared activity. For example, you could order the same type of food or try cooking together. Decide on a recipe together, order the ingredients, then make it virtually at the same time.

Virtual movie night. 

Teleparty is a new way to watch TV with your friends online. Teleparty synchronises video playback and adds group chat to Netflix, Disney, Hulu and HBO. 

If you decide to meet in person, choose a location where you can maintain distance.

Be sure to follow the Covid-19 coronavirus guidelines. Wear a mask over your nose and mouth and use a hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol. Be sure to meet in a safe place for Covid adherence but also to ensure your own safety and lessen date-anxiety. 

Date ideas

Have a picnic. Bring your own picnic and blanket, and choose a public park that isn’t overcrowded. Go for a walk or hike. This is an activity that can easily be done one or two metres apart, in masks or face shields, without feeling awkward.

Featured image via Pixabay