‘You can still date online’: How to maintain relationships during the coronavirus outbreak

Stephan Petar has a first date tonight with someone he met on the dating app Hinge — but it won’t be a typical first date.

Instead, the Toronto resident and his date will have a cocktail over video chat because they are both practising social distancing amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.

“Just because you can’t meet up at a bar or movie… it doesn’t mean romance is dead,” Petar, 30, said.

“There are things you can do to keep the normalcy in life and keep a date going.”

Meeting new people and dating during the COVID-19 outbreak can be complicated, said Toronto-based relationship expert Jess O’Reilly.

Health experts are encouraging social distancing, which includes maintaining a distance of roughly six feet from others.

“If we’ve been told to stay home, that includes dates,” O’Reilly said.

“They’re telling us to stay home with the exception of essential meetings; I don’t think going on a date is essential.”

But O’Reilly, who is also the host of the Sex with Dr. Jess podcast, said this doesn’t mean romance has to end.

Date ideas while in quarantine

Whether you’re just getting to know someone or you’ve had a partner for years, there are many ways to date using technology while practising social distancing or self-isolation.

O’Reilly recommends watching the same movie or cooking the same meal and eating together over video chat.

If you’re in the early stages of a relationship, you can also send voice notes instead of text messages so you can hear each other’s voices.

“We will survive without kissing,” O’Reilly said.

“We will have plenty of time in our lives to get to those things. It’s time to think about the greater good as opposed to instant and personal gratification.”

What are dating apps doing?

Dating apps are helping users find creative ways to spend time together amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Rather than introducing people in person, dating app Here/Now, which typically brings singles together at events, is instead using a video app called Zoom for users to meet.

Tinder has also added a pop-up ad reminding users of best COVID-19 prevention practices, including handwashing and social distancing.

Many people who are online dating also took to Twitter saying these apps have been buzzing with people wanting to connect.

Sex and social distancing

While O’Reilly’s date night ideas apply to any stage of dating, some couples who crave deeper intimacy may want to take it one step further.

There’s not much evidence that COVID-19 is transmitted through sex, Dr. Alon Vaisman, an infection control and infectious diseases physician at Toronto’s University Health Network, previously told Global News.

“It would be very unlikely, because most respiratory viruses only can infect the respiratory tract, so it wouldn’t likely be secreted in the genital tract,” he said.

However, it is possible to catch the virus if you kiss someone who is infected.

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