What’s good pandemic dating etiquette?

How to start dating in these unprecedented times

The dating pool can be a murky place to wade in, even when we’re not in a pandemic. We’re used to dealing with butterflies in our stomachs or wondering “Should I have sex on the first date?”, but dating in the coronavirus era means wrestling with different complex questions. Now you’re not just swiping right on someone who loves the same music or TikToks as you do—you’re looking for someone who matches your pandemic risk tolerance. COVID changed the game, but we’re here to help you find a winner.

Whether you’re in the market for a hookup or a long-term hottie, it’s important to check in with yourself and confirm your comfort level before linking up with others. You can’t establish your boundaries if you don’t know what they are. Things to consider: how do you feel about COVID prevention strategies such as the COVID vaccine, social distancing, masking, avoiding crowds, testing, and quarantining? Now you’re ready to spread some good dating etiquette (and not germs)!

Are you a vaxxed snack?

Good pandemic dating etiquette can change depending on your or someone else’s risk tolerance. But it’s always helpful to give a potential bae some warm-up time before asking the hard questions on a first meetup or text convo. Maybe don’t lead with “Are you vaccinated?” before you even know their last name! But if you’re skittish about asking in general, start by talking about your own experience and leave the door open for them to share theirs.

Mask or nah?

The CDC recommends masking in indoor public spaces outside your home, but that might not be a local requirement, and many people feel comfortable not wearing a mask. If you and your date are headed somewhere indoors and cozy, it’s okay to check if a mask is needed. Asking “Do we need masks there?” is a polite way to gauge both your date’s intention to wear a mask and the policy at your destination. If you feel uncomfortable without a mask, wear yours anyway. If you’d prefer your date also wear a mask, simply explain that you’re being very careful and ask if they’d mind also wearing one. Similarly, if your date prefers to mask up in indoor, public spaces and you don’t, it’s good etiquette to put on a mask around them.

To test or not to test?

So, you’re trying to get some action, but what if you or your partner are worried about COVID exposure? Although COVID is not sexually transmitted, it can be contracted during sex through close contact with an infected person. It may be awkward AF, but discussing STI tests with a partner before you have sex can give you an opening to talk about rapid COVID testing. Good etiquette also means taking a raincheck on hooking up if either of you feel sick.

What’s your dealbreaker?

Dating during coronavirus can be tricky because you’re not just dealing with a pandemic—you’re also handling your potential date’s risk tolerance. And let’s face it, you’re not going to agree with everyone. So be honest with dates about your boundaries. If they want to go to a crowded place that makes you squirmy, suggest somewhere else you would feel at ease. However, if their POV on COVID itself is a dealbreaker, don’t pretend everything is okay just to be nice.

It’s not just good etiquette: being upfront about your limitations frees your time up so you can swipe right on someone who’s a better match. Happy swiping!

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