In an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are encouraging people to practice "social distancing," a term that refers to making a conscious effort to reduce close contact with others. If that phrase makes you feel 10 times lonelier, you aren't the only one. But for the sake of keeping yourself and those in your community healthy, it's best to avoid non-essential hangouts and hookups. It's possible to date safely during the coronavirus outbreak, but it requires a little creativity and flexibility... not to mention WiFi.
The CDC's most recent guidelines at the time of publication note that the virus spreads primarily through contact between people who are within six feet of each other and is carried via respiratory droplets (from coughing and sneezing, for example). The CDC recommends canceling or postponing gatherings of 50 or more people, and several city and state governments have mandated the cease of large-scale events, as well as the temporary closure of restaurants and bars. Additionally, Belgian economist Andreas Backhaus analyzed data comparing COVID-19 cases in Italy and South Korea and found that young people (ages 20 - 29) are often asymptomatic carriers — meaning they feel healthy, but can still pass the virus to other people.
That's why many immunologists and officials recommend avoiding non-essential contact with others. "The need to practice social distancing is something we all should do to reduce the spread," Vincent Racaniello, Ph.D, a Columbia professor of microbiology and immunology, tells Elite Daily. "Most people will only have mild disease, but the concern is that older people, or those with health problems, will have serious disease requir[ing] hospitalization. We do not want to overburden hospitals, because if they are, they won't be able to provide proper care."
It may not be worth putting yourself and others at risk in order to meet new people right now, but if you're DTF (and here, that means down to flirt), you have options.
"Humans are social creatures and during this period of physical isolation, people are looking for alternative ways to socialize," says Lyndsey Wheeler, co-founder of Here/Now, a dating company that organizes singles' mixers. "Dating shouldn’t have to stop just because we can’t go out to bars or restaurants."
Here's how to keep your love life fun while practicing social distancing.
Make The Most Of Dating Apps
Let's be real, a good chunk of your love life has probably always revolved around the internet. So this should come as second nature to you: It's 100% safe to swipe for hours and flirt endlessly with cute strangers from the safety and comfort of your own couch. In these strange times, nothing is hotter than a person who can woo you with words. Don't be afraid to make the first move and send over a swoon-worthy compliment. Get creative and fire off cheeky banter. Ask thought-provoking questions to keep the conversation flowing.
Flirt Over Video Chat
Rather than meeting up for a date, consider a FaceTime date instead. “It’s one way to stay connected to real people without having to meet in the physical world," a rep for Bumble previously told Elite Daily. Rather than struggling to hear your date over a crowded bar and doing the awkward wallet dance at the end of the night, you each bring your own beverages or snacks to your computer or phone and get to know each other online.
If you're a college student, you can sign up for Love Over Zoom, the brainchild of two Yale computer science majors that uses an algorithm to match up students around the country for Zoom dates. Ileana Valdez, one of the co-founders, previously told Elite Daily, "Because we were going to be isolated, it was OK to 'shoot your shot' and be brave about dating."
If you're in New York or Los Angeles, Here/Now is offering virtual mixers of 10 people at a time on the evenings of March 17, 18, and 19. "We’ll curate the group, invite everyone to set the vibe in their own living rooms (for example, light a candle and pour themselves a drink), have a host present to guide the experience, and put people into a series of short one-on-one conversations to get to know each other better," Wheeler explains. "Afterwards, we’ll help connect anyone who felt a mutual spark so they can keep up the virtual hangs until we’re able to meet IRL once again."
While it might feel weird at first to conduct your entire dating life from the safety of your own home, the very first eHarmony and Tinder users probably felt the same way back in the day — and now, dating sites and apps have transformed dating for good. Love Is Blind recently demonstrated just how powerful conversation can be. By the time the threat of this outbreak passes, you might have already met the Cameron to your Lauren. Stay safe, friends.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all Elite Daily's coverage of coronavirus here.