When COVID-19 started, there were clever Love in the Time of Corona references, a take off from Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez. News covered socially distant weddings and sweet stories of couples in international relationships meeting for dates along Europe’s country borders, since they were closed to travelers.
There were also stories of couples getting divorced or breaking up after being cooped up with a partner in a relationship that wasn’t working and they never had to spend so much time together, before. On the other end of the spectrum, some singles stayed with people they weren’t that into just for company, or jumped into relationships with those they otherwise might not, maybe even after just a date or two, to avoid sheltering in place, all alone.
Some couples, where one works in a high-risk job, are temporarily living separately or staying in separate parts of their home. If couples are dating and don’t live together, many are only seeing each other outside at a distance and wearing masks.
Three seasons have passed and despite the start of vaccines, there is no end in sight. With people as isolated and lonely as ever, as a matchmaker and dating coach, I still get a lot of questions as to how to find, or maintain, love amidst a pandemic. Many want to know if it is even possible to date during COVID.
While the stakes are higher and dating is more dangerous than it used to be, the overall idea is still the same; where there’s a will, there’s a way!
As a dating coach and matchmaker, I always advise to take things slowly and to be safe. But people will make their own decisions and use their judgment to do what they feel is best for them, as with anything else in life. Those who are generally cautious and careful will be so with dating during the pandemic. Those who have never been concerned with safer sex, aren’t likely to worry about catching COVID-19, either.
Many people had put off trying to meet someone new in order to stay safe and since it became seemingly complicated to date. As the months dragged on, though, most people have found a way to adapt. I’ve had to adapt my dating advice, as well.
I usually ask my clients to meet as soon as possible and not spend much time or emotional energy emailing, texting, or talking on the phone, so as not develop attachments before an actual date. If you don’t have in-person chemistry, it can all be over in a few minutes. For my matchmaking clients, I usually encourage it even be a blind date unless it’s a long-distance match and people will be traveling hours to meet.
Times have changed, and so has my dating advice. I’ve spoken to several doctors to see what they think is safest. I now suggest talking by phone several times and maybe even exchange photos to see if there’s an attraction before meeting.
I also usually recommend a brief first date like in a coffee shop or a walk in a park or beach, in case there’s no chemistry in person. That way no one invests too much time or money in the first date as they would if having a costly, lengthy meal together. That much still applies, but to minimize COVID risk, I suggest just a socially distant walk, wearing masks, as a first date.
After several socially distant dates, if you like each other, you can essentially isolate for 14 days (while still talking on the phone and at that point, maybe adding video calls to get to know each other better). I suggest not doing video calls at first since people tend to look bad on webcameras. Moreover, conversation usually flows better on the phone, when not distracted by visuals and worried how you look on the screen.
If all goes well after the two weeks and you still like each other, then have dates without masks a few times to determine if you want to become each other’s “pod” and turn it into a relationship. As with normal times, after a few weeks or months, it’ll become clear if this has the potential to turn into something serious. If the two of you can successfully navigate a relationship during the trying times of COVID-19, you probably have a pretty good chance of making it long-term.
Good luck, stay healthy out there, and I wish you love!
Judith Gottesman, MSW, is the West Coast Jewish Community’s Matchmaker and Dating Coach. She founded Soul Mates Unlimited®️ in 2009 to help Jews of all ages find lasting love. Her companion book set on finding your soul mate and dating tips is soon to be released. For more info and free dating tips, go to www.SoulMatesUnlimited.com.
Judith Gottesman, MSW Is a contributing writer to JLife Magazine.