Well, that was quick. The way of life we knew and took for granted vanished in a matter of weeks. If you’re already on the dating market or just looking to connect with people, you needn’t wait until the world reopens to get to know others.
Social distancing changed the way dating works almost overnight. Everybody has to be 2 metres apart. How would it even work?
Well, it does. The number of conversations on Tinder has risen by 20% and on OKCupid by 30%. The devil really does make work for idle thumbs. However, according to OkCupid, 20% fewer people are after random encounters. There has also been a 5% bump in people looking for long-term love.
No longer would the goal be to hook up and move on. You have to talk, at length, without any sign that you’ll have physical contact in the coming weeks. That is going to be an excellent thing for relationships worldwide.
I’ve seen several couples go long-distance and stay the course. Sure, many of started with a fast-paced holiday romance or fling. But maintaining the connection over many months without seeing each other took time, patience, and genuine curiosity.
It’s a time of physical restrictions on movement and genuine hardship all around. However, it’s also a moment where people are pausing to connect.
Dating is by no means exempt from this, and I wholeheartedly encourage you to continue meeting people and building rapport.
The removal of physical contact from the equation may afford more opportunities for people who might not yet have developed the confidence to avoid put sex on a pedestal.
Likewise, women may feel safer and more comfortable accepting advances from strangers if they get to engage from at least 2m away.
Here are some great ideas for getting to know people a little better without contact.
1. Tour a museum or zoo
Many museums and galleries are running virtual tours and YouTube walkthrough experiences. And although you can’t exactly smell the 200-year-old dust on the exhibits, you can share the knowledge and chat with each other while the tour progresses.
London Zoo is running live webcams of many enclosures during the lockdown, and the two of you can take a walk on the wild side without having to leave your home.
Interesting stuff is still interesting stuff, whether you’re in the room with it or not.
2. Play games together.
Even the basic games on Facebook Messenger would be enough, but any activity you can do together will generate rapport, friendly competition, and banter.
However, what an amazing gesture it would be to buy her the same console as you so that you can play together. Many games on Steam are multiplayer, and anything from Animal Crossing to Rocket League to Mortal Kombat 11 might tickle their fancy, depending on taste.
Maybe it’s not something you’d usually suggest for a date, but it’s a fun, unique way to connect with someone on a romantic level. (Definitely let them win, though.)
3. Have a civilised drink (or a less civilised one, if you fancy).
You can strip away all the lights and serving staff and distractions and crack open a bottle of Merlot each on webcam.
More than anything else, this quarantine is bringing out the importance of asking open conversations and being genuinely curious about the lives of other people. Having a drink and a chat is a beautiful, chilled way to spend an evening.
Maybe you can play some online drinking games like “Never Have I Ever” or “Truth or Dare” to learn more about your date.
4. Do a quiz together.
Once you’re a few dates in, form a quiz team.
Nothing brings people together like team games. Forming a united front against a common enemy is how humans have always bonded. Social distancing will take something like laser tag, bowling, or arcade gaming out of the equation for a while.
However, joining a Zoom quiz (there are thousands – I bet you have a friend that’s running one) can be a great way to team up from miles away. It’s also a way for them to meet other people in your social circle, although group video chats can become cluttered.
Plus, you’ll get a picture of how brainy your date is.
5. Create an art project.
Creating together is beautiful, even if you can’t do it in person.
Having a fun drawing session where you set each other challenges can be just the window into your date’s soul that you needed.
You can also make pictures for each other and send them over. And all you need are pencils, coloring gear, and paper.
During a time like this, getting in touch with your outgoing, childlike side will nourish you and your date. Draw each other into that excitement (pun intended) wherever you are.
6. Meet up for a socially distanced picnic.
The rules are regularly changing depending on the situation with the virus, but, for now, you can meet another person in an outdoor space, so long as you stay socially distanced.
We’re heading into summer. It’s a lovely time to sit outside and chat. There’ll also be the relief of being allowed to do that in the first place, which will make any outdoor date feel as daring as showing an ankle was to Victorians.
I have a feeling we’re going to value our outdoor time over these next few months. Why not enjoy it with another person? Cycle rides or long walks are also recipes for romance without contact.
7. Watch a concert or show.
All musicians are now resorting to streaming through Facebook or Twitch, given that concert venues are closed.
You will find some of your favourite artists and DJs streaming at almost every minute of the weekend.
The National Theatre is also live-streaming a free play every Thursday on YouTube. Get dressed up to the nines and head down to your living room.
8. Netflix and chill: Stay at home edition
The Google Chrome browser has a “Netflix Party” option if you and your date want to watch something together and chat on the side.
It’s highly unlikely your date won’t have Netflix. If they don’t, add them to your account for the session.
This is more for couples who were already going steady and now have to spend time apart. If you’re getting to know one another, you should prioritise socially distanced dates that facilitate conversation a little better than watching TV.
However, there’s plenty of live stand-up shows on there to give you both a chuckle and bring you together.
9. Get sexy.
If there’s a sexual spark between you, the pot might boil over before the lockdown is over. Maybe you want to start cranking up the heat before you see each other in person.
Playing a strip edition of online chess or poker is one way to get undressed with a fun, interactive vibe. Or you can get descriptive, talking about what you’d like to do to each other once this is all over and diving deep on your sexual fantasies.
It’s certainly a way of adding fire to that first encounter when you do eventually meet.
10. Just talk.
These are unusual times. Sometimes, all the online tools, games, and widgets in the world are no replacement for full-hearted, open interaction.
A few icebreaker dates can be hugely effective but call for a chat if you’re a few dates in. Ask how their day was and how they’re feeling.
Strong connections and even serious budding relationships might form during this time, but it’s essential to avoid getting too heavy, angry, or political when you’re having these chats. You are an exciting, escapist prospect from a highly repetitive routine. It’s best to avoid bringing the mood down.
However, listen and empathise if they’re having a terrible day, or ask if they’d prefer to talk when they have more energy. These are unusual times, and moods can be hard to predict.
Be prepared to give your date time and space to heal, and do your best to take their mind into a more positive place when you talk.
Now more than ever, you have the chance to self-amuse on dating apps and open conversations for the hell of it. The world is switched off at the moment, so now is your chance to play the numbers game when it comes to online dating.
There are myriad ways to connect with another person through games, entertainment, or simple activities while hanging out. Technology makes romance without contact much more accessible.
The important part is becoming a distracting, enjoyable presence in their day and deepening your emotional bond.
Be prepared to take the conversation offline very quickly once restrictions on our way of life loosen.
Learn how to master dating on and offline through my virtual Impactful Connection workshops.