Hookup. Date. Love. The COVID-19 dating rules

Spring is the season of blooming love but 2020 has been a notorious rebel. This pandemic spring we saw – closed restaurants and bars, a deadly virus, and a constant state of anxiety in full bloom.

And with the government saying “You are your safest sex partner”, now is definitely not the best time to take your date out to a bar.

Singletons have been the true martyrs of coronavirus. Holed up in their houses, left craving for any kind of intimacy, battling an uncertain dating scene – Truly, these are dry times.

And if you are thinking all this chaos may have caused a dent in the dating game, you couldn’t be farther away from the truth. Virus be damned! The hookup game is on a boom. According to the statistics, since March, the U.S. has been one of the most active countries for virtual dating.

But how do you date while flattening the curve?

We are after all social animals. People are lonely and have a lot more time on their hands. And to deal with the social isolation (thanks to this COVID-19 era), they are getting crazy creative and finding various virtual ways of intimacy.

Video chats, new apps like Ok zoomer, Insta date live, and the rising popularity of bumble, inner – circle, hinge, are a testament to this fact. Don’t believe me, ask Tinder – who reported a whopping 3 billion swipes on March 29th.Tired thumbs anyone?

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The swiping game is fast adapting to this infection climate. We sadly inform you that small talks, casual hookups, going out, holding hands, have passed away. R.I.P.

But don’t lose heart. If you are single (don’t worry you won’t die alone) and looking to learn the ropes of the new hook up game, my friend, read on.

1. Get comfortable with video chats

Once considered creepy, video calls are now amping up the romance and helping you make the best of the quarantine time.

According to Bumble, video chatting rose by 93% in a week after Trump declared national lockdown.

These face to face virtual conversations are the new texts or as the millennial call it “Vibe checks”. Zoom calls, Facetime are as close as you will get to know your potential partner. They let you see your date beyond a filtered selfie (how they look, their dressing sense), have a conversation (no more text banter), and gauge chemistry; making the whole experience real and intimate.

Even if you are shy, go ahead, take the plunge. Trust me it’s better than being alone.

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2. Adapt to the new small talk topics

For ages, small talk has been the ice breaker. But with no restaurants or actual meetings, it is difficult to talk about the music or the menu or the waiter’s dress. To make the conversations keep flowing, prepare a small talk cheat sheet – Talk about your fav meal or why did you pick this dress today. Or maybe music, hobbies, books, and the last movie/experience you had in pre corona times. It will be impossible to not talk about this pandemic but don’t let it eat up your entire date. Don’t worry if there are a few awkward/silent moments. Embrace them. Laugh through them and move on.

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3. Adhere to the virtual dating etiquette

As you are not actually meeting the person, but don’t be lazy. There are several “opening the door” gestures in the virtual world as well.

  • Look presentable – While the date may not be in the 3-D world, you still gotta look good. Shower, do your hair, put on some makeup, and your fav dress/shirt. Add some perfume/cologne and you are ready. You may think why all the effort, but trust me, it will set the mood; help calm nerves, and feel more like yourself.
  • Arrange the set up beforehand – No one likes a shaky date. Instead of scrambling at the last moment, arrange the set up at least an hour before the date begins. Find your good angles, check the lighting (pro tip – make sure your makeup and lighting are compatible with one another). Choose between a laptop and phone (set it at eye level), a comfortable spot (and nice background), a glass of wine (or tea, or water). Once the setup is ready, take a deep breath and let the show begin.
  • The old manners still apply – While the dates are virtual, don’t forget to be on time, compliment the other person, appreciating the home (whatever little of it you get to see), and hang up politely when you feel it’s right for you.

4. Embrace the new slow pace of love

For a while, millennial have been consuming love through easy swipes. But with the changed scenario and 2 major players – money and sex (umm.. Not talking about virtual Netflix and chill) out of the dating picture, there is no more instant gratification. The virtual times are cheering for love, giving it a solid chance, before people give into lust. So spill your heart out, be vulnerable, and connect. Talk about everything under the sun – from quarantine and toilet paper to “I wish” and “I am scared” to Coronavirus status and exclusivity – there is no dearth of either topics or time. Remember the more you know a person, the more are the chances of liking them. 

5. Spill those creative juices

If you have had a few dates with the same person and are looking to change things up a bit – listen to Sarah Louise Ryan from Lessons in Love. She says: ‘You can have virtual happy hours on Fridays via Houseparty, Zoom or Skype apps. ‘You could perhaps have picnic dates on your phone over the weekend. ‘It will give the air of being together as well as make sure you connect deeply. ‘You could perhaps learn a new language together and practice in the time you catch up, keeping your brain stimulated and you both excited about the prospect of something new together – it’s time to think outside of the box.’

Of course, we will get back to meeting people in reality. Till then – Save money, utilize time, kiss fewer frogs, and enjoy this rollercoaster.

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Sonam Gulati
Sonam Gulati
Sonam Gulati - A wife, a mom, a dog-mom, a fitness enthusiast (in no particular order) has been practicing yoga for the last 12 years. Her journey began due to chronic back pain (thanks to a long sitting job) and post-natal depression. The pain birthed an urge to find a strong body and mind (for herself, for her child) and ended up transforming her. Working through deep-rooted feelings and trauma, releasing them layer by layer, her life today is a testament to the healing power of Yoga and how it enables a mind, body, and soul union. She has been writing on various aspects of health and relationships for over 8 years, journaling through her journey.

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