Dating safe with COVID-19

Kelsey Paulus, reporter

As the COVID-19 pandemic changes the world around us, dating is no exception. People now have to be more cautious when dating around due to the risk associated with coming in contact with others. Tara Smith, professor of epidemiology at Kent State, said dating is now more about minimizing the risk that will come along with the dating process. 

“Anytime you open up your social circle, you’re bringing in not only that person, but really, all of the people that they are also exposed to,” Smith said. 

This risk factor can be different for each person depending on what they are generally exposed to. 

“Think about who else is in that person’s social circle,” Smith said. “How many exposures do they have? Are they somebody who takes the pandemic seriously and at least tries to minimize exposures, wears a mask and does distancing when possible? Or, are they someone who is more cavalier about the whole thing, and may be putting themselves at risk otherwise?”

While Smith said there is no way to date in person without a risk, there are still date ideas that will minimize that risk, such as hiking or having a picnic outside with takeout from a restaurant. 

“It’s not only the individual that you want to think about, but also the activities that you’re engaging in,” Smith said. “The closer contact you have, the longer it’s inside and the more time you spend with them will also increase your risk factors.”

Smith recommends for people who want to date in person to have an honest conversation with their date before going out to make sure both people are on the same page about the pandemic and safety precautions.

Dating apps such as Tinder and Bumble are one of the most popular ways students meet each other when looking for a relationship. According to Pew Research Center, 48 percent of people in the United States ages 18-29 have dated online. 

Tinder consulted with the President of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, Peter Pitts, for five tips on how to date safely during the pandemic, a Tinder spokesperson said.  

  1. Be sure to wear your mask on a date. This will ensure the safety of not only yourself and your date, but for the people around as well, even if you are not experiencing symptoms. 

  1. “Don’t rush to touch. Don’t shake hands, hug or kiss until you know the other person’s health status — and practice the same caution when it becomes time to meet their friends,” Pitts said.

  1. If you are not feeling well, connect digitally and plan your date over video chat.

“It isn’t worth the risk of getting yourself or someone else sick — and you can still light some candles or have dinner delivered,” Pitts said.

  1. Communication is key in dating, especially now. Decide on the best place to meet based on safety measures in practice at public places. 

“Restaurants and coffee shops are OK once open, as long as they’re practicing safe hygiene and social distancing,” Pitts said. “Ask for a table for four to give yourselves more room, bring wipes and hand sanitizer and wipe down the table and chair before you sit. Crowded bars are still a bad idea, but if you must, stay masked.” 

  1. If you are able to, get tested for COVID-19 to keep yourself and others safe. Communication with your partner about getting tested and your risk level is highly important, according to Amy Nobile, founder of dating concierge service Love, Amy, for Business Insider. She said this is a time when you get to see how someone truly is, and their behaviors during a crisis are “very telling.”