But here’s another real thing, which is very much the basis of my letter to you today:
if you’ve wished you could have a partner to pal around with and share life’s ups and downs…and you haven’t yet found him…for shit-sake, don’t let fear guide you into giving up on your dream of love!
Here’s all you need to do:
make some appropriate tweaks,
be a little creative, and
date more like a grownup.
First, follow the CDC’s prevention advice. Period.
Here are dating-specific tweaks to help keep you safe so you can continue dating…and not use this as a reason to jump ship on your love life.
1. Have an adult conversation before dating face-to-face.
Pre COVID-19, I would have advised you of this standard dating rule: Don’t air out any medical mishegas before you meet, or even on a first or second date. (I specialize in helping women over 40 find love and most of us seem to have some malady or another.)
In the ‘who knows WTF is happening with this disease” world, things have to change.
Holding back on a chat about health is no longer a good idea, especially if your worry level about the virus is high. Some grownup talk is in order, and very early on. Definitely, before you meet.
Do the two of you have the same level of concern about the threat? Do you think there should be special precautions when you’re together? Is there a possibility you’ve been exposed? Do you even care??
Look, it’s already hard to feel emotionally and physically safe while dating. In the world of the coronavirus, some mutual understanding of each other’s concerns and possible exposure to the disease can help reduce anxiety on that front. Besides, how can you have any fun if you’re worried about contracting some horrific disease?
Yah, it can be kinda weird talking about this. But it’s not that different than convos you should already be having about safe sex. You’re a grownup, aren’t you? You can do it. Here’s how to start the conversation:
DON’T do this: Hi Bob, I’m Mary. I’m scared shitless and need to know all about your health and how you will keep me safe if we ever meet. And by the way, don’t think for a minute that you’re going to touch me in any way.
DO this: Hey Bob, btw before we meet, are you game for a quick convo about this scary virus thing so we can get it out of the way and have fun? What are your thoughts about anything we should do differently?
The experience of having such a conversation only deepens your connection and sets you up to have more meaningful communication going forward. And btw, if the answer is “no, I don’t want to have that conversation,” I strongly suggest you move on. If you’re looking for a grownup, that is.
2. Find new places and ways to meet.
I’ve always advised my clients to meet in person before forming any type of conclusion about their feelings or future potential. I help them choose a safe, quiet place where they can look into his eyes, hear his voice, and see how he reacts to the environment.
Post-Covid19, you still don’t want to be isolated, but you also don’t want to be among a bunch of potentially virus-y people. Most of the usual busy coffee shops, restaurants, and lounges may be out.
Instead, take a bike ride. Meet at a park bench or lay down a blanket at the beach. Walk a labyrinth. Work out or run in the park or at a local school track.
Try connecting on a different level. Watch the sunset and share about the favorite sunsets you’ve seen in the past. Take a walk and see who can point out the most birds and insects, soak in the local architecture, or just talk about what comes up!
While I’d rather you be in the same place, for now, depending on where you live, you may even want to avoid that. So start getting creative! Use Skype, Facetime, or some other video-conferencing app. You can still look each other in the eye and hear your voices.
And hey, since you’re dealing with tech, there’s a chance you’ll be able to learn how he handles challenges or makes an effort to help you in any way. Because it’s tech. There will most likely be some sort of glitch. Use it to your advantage!
3. Don’t stop dating, just agree on ground rules before you meet.
Clearly communicating your needs is a necessary part of acting like a grownup. If you’re not yet doing this in dating and relationships, now is the time to start!
What do you need to feel safe? If you’re scared to be dating with the looming coronavirus threat, what do you need to feel understood?
Don’t be shy with each other as you define some mutually agreeable ground rules…but also try to make this fun!
Do you want to wear masks? Maybe use that as a way to recognize each other. You can make yours pink and his blue. Do you need to insist on being a certain amount of space apart? Do you need him to first bathe in sanitizer? (Kidding.)
Is touching allowed? Experts agree that the safest way to avoid transmission is to avoid all contact. What are you going to do instead of hugs or handshakes? Fist or elbow bumps? If you agree on no touching, have some fun with it. You’re still on a date and want some expression of connection.
How about a greeting of jazz hands? Maybe a bow and a Namaste? Or a Miss America wave?
And don’t ever forget — coronavirus or not — the usual eye contact/genuine smile/pause is always a must-do if you want to start off with a good connection.
Look, the truth is that dating can be scary. So is this goddam virus. So is living the rest of your life without a partner who has your back and is a blast to hang with.
There is always scary stuff out there, real and made up. You don’t have to use this pandemic as a reason to hide, give up, and stay single if you don’t want to be. Just stay informed, make the appropriate changes, be creative, and date like a grownup.