I Really Want To See You: How people are hooking up and getting around the Pandemic

Usually, on a first date, we’re trying so hard to make a good impression that we’re not even thinking about anything other than the moment we’re in. And that’s ok! But if you’re on a first date and having to deal with Covid, and you’re not quite sure what dating looks like during these uncertain times, here are a few ways that people are working around the pandemic, starting with myself.

In my last article, I wrote about long distance relationships. Now a week later, I’ve started thinking about dating during Covid and how similar it is to dating long distance. For example, last week I met some guy while I was playing on the tennis court. Here’ what happened. There’s a league that plays around the time that I’m on the court, and after checking me out for several months, this guy that I often play with asked me out. I was flattered, but still, I had to figure out what dating would look like during a pandemic, and I wasn’t sure how to navigate through those waters. I mean, would I let him hold my hand, would we go out to eat, would he come in for a kiss, all these questions ran through my mind, and for a while, I wasn’t sure if it was going to happen.

But he was a nice guy, super-intelligent, persistent and we had lots in common, so I thought why not. For our first date, I asked him to meet me a block away from my house for a mask walk—through the Blue hills keeping as much distance on narrow sidewalks.

We laughed as we remarked at how strange it was to date in 2020 and once a week, we’d talk over Skype even though we lived only a few blocks from each other. On the weekends, we’d go for long walks and we got all our serious questions answered straight away, so you know if this person is serious instead of a hookup. But even if they answer exactly what you want there’s still the business of a.) asking their pandemic precautions, b.) who they’re around and if you think things might get serious, c.) getting tested for Covid-19 if your planning on being intimate.

 So welcome to the new norm! This is what it’s like to date amid the spread of a deadly virus: Singles are spending several weeks to months getting to know someone over the phone, video chat, or socially distant dates before the masks come off. Taking that step often involves detailed discussions about whom you’re seeing regularly — be it family, friends, roommates, or other dates — to help determine the right time to share a hug or first kiss. And there are no clear rules on when it’s safe to progress. Everyone’s making it up as they go along.

I admit, it’s a big change from the culture of immediacy that Tinder and other dating apps ushered in several years ago. Abiding by social distancing while getting close to someone can be frustrating, but pandemic dating can offer a chance to connect in new ways.

For starters, showing someone you care looks different than it did a year ago. And being cautious is now a sexy character trait and planning a good date might have nothing to do with snagging a hot restaurant reservation. So I spoke to singles and experts about how people are choosing to connect during the pandemic. Here’s what they had to say.

TheNovalist: How did you meet?

Jewels: I had three virtual dates with this guy a friend of mine introduced me to. We seem to hit it off pretty well, so I decided to ask to do a hookup pack. Since I was maintaining a social distancing protocol within our agreement, I placed strict stipulations on our intimacy and asked him to do the same. Once we agreed, I saw him on average of four nights a week. He drove into town for work Monday through Friday, and I would meet him most evenings.

Lola: I penned my hookup pact agreement via text message with a guy I met on Bumble. He was completely down with it, and we even crafted a no-feelings policy via text message and made plans to meet the following week. 

TheNovalist: How long did your hookup pack last?

Jewels: It’s actually hard to get to know someone over Zoom dates and texts. Even more so how can you trust them enough to know that their adhering to the agreement? This was the downfall of our hookup pact. I couldn’t control what my partner did, who he dated, and who he came into contact with. After all, we were “monogamous but super casual.” And since he not only maintained his dating-app profile but also made frequent trips to the gym, I eventually ended things. “I can’t say I was a hundred percent feeling secure.”

Lola: After four months of dating, we’re still going strong. My partner even keeps a temperature log, filling me in on the slightest movement. Anyway, I know that there are risk dating during the pandemic, but my family, therapist and support groups aren’t enough. For me, I need real human contact. Physical connections are an essential part of my life, and I’m not going to let Covid-19 get in the way of my love life. This is what you call modern romance.

What the Experts Have to say

Doctor Dolores Albarracin says that Pandemic dating is complicated for a lot of people. Singles might be geographically close but constrained on their ability to meet. One big predictor of success in long-distant relationships, Albarracin says, is maintaining good communication. The people who have high levels of communication, who really try to get to know each other at a deeper level are more likely to succeed, she says. Albarracin recommends answering three main questions before making this leap.

  1. What are the transmission rates in your community? 
  2. Do you, your partner, or any of your close contacts have any preexisting conditions or health risks you should keep in mind? (If you’re immunocompromised, for example, you should engage in lower-risk activities.)
  3. What is the risk of the activity you plan to do? ( It’s possible to test negative one day and positive the next day because that’s how the virus works, for example, this should be a  good benchmark to inform your decision to meet in person or become intimate).

Is it alright to date my ex-boyfriend?

I tend to come across this question a lot, and this is how I look at it: We see it from time to time couples get back together, even after major break-ups, and make it work. But much more often people get back together only to realize that the story ends the same way—a rehash of why they broke up in the first place. So in my opinion, it’s a No. It’s never a good idea. Time apart followed by lots of hard work is sometimes the exact thing a relationship needs when it time to come to an end. If you broke up with your ex-boyfriend it was probably for a good reason.  And the time and effort invested in healing and learning from your mistakes isn’t worth giving up. You don’t want to bring in your ex-boyfriend just because you’re feeling lonely. It’s never a good option.

Final thoughts

I think if you’re leaving your house during a global pandemic to have sex, for whatever reason, there’s always going to be a risk of Covid-19. But even despite state advisories and more than 114,000 American lives lost, the fact that we’re coining the term “hookup pact” during a pandemic says that people are over it and ready to return to some kind of normalcy in their lives.

For me airing on the side of caution is always the best route. Sex has truly, become overrated. I think people should use this as an opportunity to get to know each other on a much deeper level. I would much rather, talk to someone once a week and get to know them over a course of several months before taking any risk. For me, adding to the slow burn makes you less likely to make snap judgments or run into relationships that are based solely on sex.

You can argue against taking it slow, but the pandemic is certainly throwing us back to the days of courtship, a period during which a couple develops a romantic relationship, especially with the view of marriage that has since become obsolete. I’m a bit old-fashion, so instead of writing someone off the second you see something you don’t like, you might be more inclined to get to know them first. Once you meet them in person, even if you do not like something trivial about them, maybe it shouldn’t be a deal breaker.

Think people should risk dating during the pandemic?

2 thoughts on “I Really Want To See You: How people are hooking up and getting around the Pandemic

  1. I am married so happy I don’t have to deal with that. I don’t think people should focus on hooking up at times like this, but focus on getting closer to God and reflecting on how they can improve their lives.


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