As we close in on one year of staying in, under Coronavirus restrictions, our needs for intimacy and connection have remained steady (if not ballooned for some!) Whether you find yourself in search of love in a (sometimes) hopeless place, looking to navigate a new romance, or trying to spice up your relationship, we’re running through a few adapted tactics and points to ponder as we strap into the realities of love in a time of Covid.

Meeting during a lockdown

Dating can be confusing, exhausting, and outright futile, even without a crisis bearing down on bachelors and bachelorettes. But that’s not to say that our need to flirt, connect and partner up should be cast aside throughout the pandemic. Singletons are shouldering the weight of social isolation alone, but there are still Covid-friendly ways to mingle.

Innovations as to where & how we continue to meet potential partners haven’t changed much with the onset of Covid. Unsurprisingly, online dating apps have seen uptake growth between 16-21% according to September 2020 data looking at OkCupid, Bumble, and Match from Apptopia. Role-playing video games also offer a compelling alternative to meeting and mingling in-person. Suddenly being immersed in a world without medical masks, slaying orcs, and not worrying about who picks up the dinner bill all sounds pretty great actually. Finally on the complete opposite end of anonymity, why not take your friends and family up on their matchmaking services. After all, no algorithm can be as perfect as having a mutual friend vouch for your common interests and tastes in partners.

heart-shaped sweets on a pink background

Next, come the extra intricacies and health considerations to account for in meeting and dating numerous individuals during the pandemic. Here are our tips for simplicity:

  • Be upfront about your comfort level with exposure risks, and be transparent around how exposed you are in your week (i.e. are you going to a workplace, are you meeting other friends indoors without masks, etc.)
  • Why not start with a video call; or take some performative pressure off (and let yourself dazzle in person later) with a simple voice call
  • Know your own threshold for when to propose meeting up and when to bubble
  • Always observe case rates and public health guidelines on household mixing
  • The same best practices for first dates apply; meet in public (even if that’s just a park while cafes and restaurants may be closed) and let a friend know where you are and when they should expect you to check in with them again

a couple sharing coffee in the outdoors

Developing intimacy during a pandemic

Amarnath Thombre, CEO of Match Group America, is recently quoted saying that, “The pace of dating is slowing down.” By that, he means that his team has observed users being more selective during the pandemic and a decrease in so-called “ghosting” matches. With the matches having “the talk” earlier and the implicit relationship exclusivity that seems to come with bubbling exclusivity, the desire to settle and get down to business is now stronger.

The pandemic has taught us how to be crafty at all hours of our day, including in dating when it comes to advancing a relationship with limited resources. Once you’ve invited someone new into your bubble (or maybe an old flame is now back in your life too, no judgment!), now you can indulge them in indoor date nights. For example, play around with your viewing entertainment — in all likelihood powering up Netflix will mean endless scrolling through shows one of you has already seen. Instead, take an assertive choice to try out something new like an opera, or the daily release on indie flick platform MUBI. And yes, you can still go on distanced strolls — and why not loop in some friends, or introduce your boo to your favorite shopkeep. Dating in an era of social distancing should not equate to having to be secretive.

a couple under the blanket drinking hot chocolate while watching the Harry Potter movie

For other couples, long-distance relationships are also being tested by mobility and international travel restrictions. All the more reason to nurture healthy dating practices. Pencil in date night to break the monotony of Zoom and FaceTime calls. There’s been no better time to choose a virtual, synchronous date night activity, to the benefit of long-distance couples. Do an online cooking class together — or pick out a recipe to prepare together. Whether you are a daily consulter or simply dabbling, reading each other horoscopes or Tarot cards can open up conversations and build intimacy in surprising ways.

Keeping the flame burning

Firstly, it must be said that romance isn’t celebrated just on February 14th. Love is a commitment that needs to be overtly demonstrated all year long. A Blueground guest survey from the first half of 2020 found that 13% of respondents actually saw an improvement in their relationship with their significant other since the onset of stay-at-home orders — a number we’d expect to see grow as couples continue to nest and experience the lockdown together for going on 12 months. Here’s a refresher for how to keep harmony, love, and lust strong throughout the year (whether under lockdown or not):

  • Communicate, communicate, communicate — everything from your frustrations and hopes to your appreciation
  • Break away from numbing routines — explore new ways to get intimate together and stave off that cabin fever  
  • Surprise with small gestures — offer to do a chore your significant other usually takes on, or put off that next impulse buy for yourself in place of a considered purchase for your boo
  • Carve out personal time and space — continue to recognize under these extraordinary circumstances that you’re spending close to 24 hours a day within yelling distance of each other (which is not normal); alone time is necessary and should not be seen as a reaction to your partner’s behavior

That being said, we don’t judge you if you still want to make this coming Valentine’s Day extra special. Here are our ideas for a celebration at home:

  • Rearrange the furniture and decorate — it does sound strange, but even a little modification to your home (a.k.a. That joint workspace and living space) can set a new ambiance and put you both in a lighter mood
  • Invest in the good stuff for dinner — a number of restaurants are offering special meal kits and set dinners; or favor your local cheesemonger and ask for their help in picking out three cheeses adjacent to what your lover typically likes; ditto with your trip to the bottle shop
  • Keep a surprise or two up your sleeve — wow your partner with hot chocolate and stargazing out on the balcony; or why not lead your own dance party for two

a happy couple cooking together in the kitchen

There is enormous levity and good feels to be found in dating and partnering up during the lockdown. Social distancing restrictions should be observed but that doesn’t mean you can’t get creative in how you get to know someone through meeting online, virtual dates and perhaps welcoming them into your bubble. For couples in a long-term relationship, extenuating circumstances are putting close proximity through new stress tests but there’s nothing that communication, conscious behavior, and a few surprise favors can’t solve. On that note, we at Blueground and Blueprint, would like to wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day!

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