The pandemic created an interesting dilemma for singles: how does one date without catching or spreading COVID-19? Dating is great but does undeniably come with a heightened risk of catching COVID-19. Monogamous couples have some idea of where their partner has been, and have committed to intimacy with one person. In that way, they can perhaps limit their COVID-19 risk to some degree. But if you’re single and getting out there, you don’t necessarily know where the people you date have been. According to Statista, singles are still very much getting out there. In fact, their research shows that dating app use spiked during the pandemic.
So where does dating safely fit into this entire keeping your distance, quarantining and contact tracing world? With CNN reporting that COVID-19 hospitalizations just reached a new high, swapping germs with anyone outside of your quarantine bubble has become even scarier. Here’s a look at safe dating best practices during this COVID-19 surge.
The pandemic has provided a unique opportunity to vet somebody for communication skills early on. In a pandemic-free world, you may have let it slide if someone was vague about where they’d been or who they’d been with. If you weren’t committed, you didn’t feel entitled to that information. However, now, that information can impact your health and the health of others in your life. Set your standards for communication high. There’s no such thing as over-communicating about COVID-19 safety with an online match or somebody you’re already seeing. If they resist that communication or become aggravated by it, consider if this is someone who deserves your time.
Get Tested And Quarantine
If you’ve been chatting with somebody online, perhaps met up for a distanced outdoor date and feel you’re ready to take that next step, take the proper precautions. You should both get tested for COVID-19 and then, to the best of your ability, quarantine or keep your distance from others. Shelter in while waiting for your results. Wear a mask and keep your distance from others. A negative test taken two days ago is no good if you contracted COVID-19 since then. Wait until you both get negative results to hook up.
Quarantine And Re-Test After An Encounter
You can catch COVID-19 by simply sitting near someone who is infected, so you can certainly catch it from someone who you kiss (and do other, er, stuff with). If you sleep with someone who is infected, the chances you contract it are high. Just in case your partner’s negative test result was a false one, be careful after the sexual encounter, too. Avoid any vulnerable individuals. Wear a mask. Quarantine again if you can. And then re-test before possibly exposing others. You want to make sure you’re negative going into the sexual encounter, and coming out of it.
Consider Their Profession
It’s always important to consider this individual’s profession and lifestyle in general. If they work in a high-risk industry where they’re constantly in crowds, that should factor into your decision-making. You should get tested regularly. Even if you’re not the person working in a high-risk environment, you need to test often when the person you’re interacting with is. Maybe they don’t have a high-risk job, but people they come in contact with might. This would indicate that you must get tested regularly. You are at risk by one degree of separation.
Consider Your Circle
Consider those in your household. If you live with a vulnerable individual who is immunocompromised, elderly or unvaccinated for medical purposes, then every decision you make affects them. If you are having engaging with several different individuals in your dating life or live with someone who is at risk, you should get tested regularly. You should ask the people you actively date to get tested regularly.
Be Patient. Get To Know Each Other.
The pandemic has provided another unique opportunity for daters – the opportunity to get to know each other better before jumping into bed together. Is there anything wrong with having sex with someone quickly? Absolutely not. Do you. But, in a pandemic, there are new considerations beyond social etiquette and ethics. The safest way to have a non-monogamous sex life in a pandemic, truthfully, is to limit partners and encounters. The best way to do that is to take extra time to get to know someone before having sex. Ultimately, you’ll find you don’t sleep with as many people because some will reveal undesirable traits that have nothing to do with COVID-19.
Don’t Forget About STDs
Everyone is so focused on COVID-19 testing that it’s easy to forget about STD testing, but sexually transmitted diseases haven’t taken a rest just because COVID-19 is at large. Use condoms. Get tested regularly. Require a copy of someone’s test results before having sex with them. Getting tested for COVID-19 and STDs might be a nuisance, but a much larger nuisance would be an STD that requires antibiotics or one that never goes away.