Oh to be young and in love, during the third surge of COVID-19; wait, how can I make that happen?

Sometimes I like to think I could be a version of a young Carrie Bradshaw; we share the romance obsession and love for writing, but it’s 2020––add some queer spice. If you’re like me, then the pandemic has stripped the convenience out of dating but certainly not the desire to continue your quest for love. It’s entirely possible to find a partner in the COVID era, but you’ll need to be strategic and safe about it. 

First, you must internally establish what you’re looking for. Friends with benefits? A one-time hookup? A long term partner? Setting these mental boundaries can help you manage your expectations as you progress with someone romantically or intimately. 

Next, you will probably have to submit yourself to dating apps. No, it’s not ideal, but we’re living through societal lockdowns, rampant disease, and political upheaval; you can tolerate the online modality of meeting a partner. Not to mention, it’s kind of the only way to meet new people right now. I recommend Tinder, Hinge, Bumble, Her, or Grindr. Then, get to swiping!

The most unique challenge of trying to engage with a romantic interest during this pandemic is that you will have to use your discretion and assess when to let this person “into your circle.” Your circle is your germ circle; who do you interact with, and who do they interact with? For example, my circle consists of my parents and a friend who I see while being socially distant. I know every person with whom my friend interacts in the same way, too. Having the “COVID conversation” and inquiring about your potential partner’s “inner circle” or “germ circle” is the make or break moment. Your COVID-cautious behaviors have to align for there to be a level of comfort before ever meeting up in person. 

Finally, you’ve spoken on the phone for a good while just getting to know each other, and you’ve talked about your germ circles, so you decide it’s time to meet in real life. Some low commitment ideas for meeting an internet connection for the first time are getting coffee or tea and walking through a park, eating––bagels, yogurt, sandwiches, other to-go foods––on the Met steps or Low Steps, or if you’re feeling slightly more adventurous and outdoorsy, hiking or exploring a farm.  

There is ultimately no perfect guarantee to COVID safety when playing the field, as this story in The Atlantic describes. Communicating openly and being forthcoming about your comfort levels and desires is key, and your potential partner must reciprocate this honesty. Staying healthy is not just about you two; it’s about your household members, your friends, and strangers in the grocery store. Whether you’re looking for a cuddle buddy, a spouse, or something in between, prioritize your safety and your comfort, and reserve your energy and value only for those with whom you align. 

Here are some resources that can inform your safety practices in your romantic and intimate pursuits:

dating with masks via Pixabay