5 Coronavirus Questions To Ask Before Meeting Up With A Date In Person

Kaitlyn McQuin, a 28-year-old writer and actor living in New Orleans, said she’s been keeping her dating circle “very small” during the pandemic. She had one phone date in March and then went on her first in-person date (they hung out at a park where they could keep their distance) in early June. To feel safe meeting up with someone IRL these days, certain conversations need to happen that weren’t necessary in a pre-COVID-19 world.

“I’d like to know how many people they’ve been around, if they’ve been wearing masks when they’re out in public — pro tip: do this! — and if they’ve had symptoms or have been ill,” McQuin told Phicklephilly. “This is a freaking pandemic, so I don’t see anything wrong with declining a date if the person you’re talking to doesn’t respect your personal and health-related boundaries.”

“Also, wearing a mask and taking precautions means you care, and people who care are attractive,” she said. “If someone said they weren’t taking precautionary measures to protect the lives of other people, or that it wasn’t necessary, I’d bid them farewell real fast.”

So what sorts of health-related questions should you ask a suitor before you meet up in person? Experts offer their advice on what to inquire about and how.

Questions To Ask

When it comes to socializing IRL, there’s no such thing as a zero-risk interaction, said Jenna Macciochi, a UK-based immunologist and lecturer at the University of Sussex.

“Plus, if you don’t know the person, there is a risk that they won’t be truthful,” she said.

Still, you should do your due diligence by having these talks — preferably on video chat or a phone call — before you consider meeting up.

“It is a crucial conversation to have and if you aren’t comfortable doing so, you should not discuss plans to meet in person,” said Erin Sorrell, an assistant research professor in Georgetown University’s department of microbiology and immunology. “Your health and well-being need to be prioritized over your dating life right now.”

These conversations can, understandably, be intimidating or uncomfortable — especially when they’re with someone you’re just getting to know. Approach these discussions from a place of mindful curiosity so you can have an honest — but not hostile — dialogue with your date.

“Tactful conversations are about honesty,” said Janet Brito, a psychologist and sex therapist in Honolulu. “Being clear about your needs is not being mean. How you say it is key though. So be aware of your tone and body language to create a feeling of safety for your prospective date to be willing to be free with their thoughts and feelings on what seems to bring up divided feelings for some.”

How this person responds during the conversation may also shed light about your potential compatibility.

“I think it’s best to date someone who has similar views to you about how to manage this public health crisis,” Brito said.

Ask these questions to get a clearer picture of the risks involved:

1. What does a typical day look like for you during the pandemic?

“This will give you a good idea of what the person’s risk factors are — are they working at home? Or are they going to a space that puts them at risk for getting infected?” said Dr. Krutika Kuppalli, an infectious diseases physician and vice chair of the IDSA Global Health Committee. “You can also find out if you both have similar or different interests, which is important.”

If your date has a front-line job — like a health care worker, grocery clerk, law enforcement officer or delivery driver — this likely increases their exposure, Macciochi said.

2. Have you had any COVID-19 symptoms in the last few weeks?

Symptoms may include — but are not limited to — cough, fever, sore throat or new loss of taste or smell.

“If the prospective date has displayed symptoms, I’d recommend not going on the date in person until they have been tested and confirmed they do not have COVID-19,” said Dr. Vandana A. Patel, a pulmonologist and clinical advisor for the online pharmacy startup Cabinet. “Even then, it’s important to take normal precautions — like wearing a mask — when going on a date.”

3. Have you been in close contact with anyone who has COVID-19?

That could be a friend, family member or co-worker who either tested positive for the virus or has a presumed case. You can also ask if they’ve been in any situations recently that may have elevated their risk, like traveling or protesting, Patel said.

“Even if the prospective date is not displaying symptoms of COVID-19, they may still have it and be asymptomatic,” she added.

4. Who do you live with?

You’d want to know if your date lives with parents or grandparents, who could be in a high-risk group because of their age or underlying health conditions. Or perhaps they have a roommate who’s an essential worker, which could also increase your date’s exposure to the virus.

“This will give you an idea if they have an elderly family member with a potential risk factor for developing COVID and give you an indication about if you need to be more careful around them,” Kuppalli said. “It will also let you know if you need to be more careful being around them because they are around a lot of people.”

5. Have you been dating, hooking up or spending time with people other than those in your household lately?

And if so, this is good opportunity to ask what precautions they’ve been taking when socializing with others. See if these dates or get-togethers took place indoors or outdoors, if they were large or small, if they happened once or twice or a bunch of times and if people were wearing masks and/or staying 6 feet apart.

“The more people they are around — in particular, intimate with — will increase their risk for getting COVID-19,” Kuppalli said. “And if you are around them this will increase your risk.”

Safer Date Ideas

If you talk through these questions and decide you want to meet up, make plans that minimize the risks for both of you. All of our experts agreed that outdoor dates are the way to go. Think walking, hiking, riding bikes or enjoying a coffee or picnic outside (you can each pack your own food and utensils) — all while avoiding close contact. Bring a facial covering with you for when you cannot maintain a safe social distance.

“You are at the highest risk of exposure and infection when you are in a closed environment indoors, in close contact and without a face mask,” Sorrell said.

Skip indoor restaurants and bars or any gathering or party where you’ll be around other people, Kuppalli recommended.

“If you do go on a date, avoid physical contact as much as possible and take precautions such as wearing a mask, sanitizing your hands often before, during and after the date and keep at least 6 feet apart from the date,” Patel said.

If someone said they weren’t taking precautionary measures to protect the lives of other people, or that it wasn’t necessary, I’d bid them farewell real fast. Kaitlyn McQuin,, writer and actor

After the date, if either of you starts exhibiting symptoms, it’s important that you let the other know ASAP. That way you can quarantine yourself, inform other people you’ve been interacting with and get tested.

“This is why it is important to have honest conversations with anyone you consider spending time with,” Sorrell said. “There also has to be trust that the person you are dating will tell you if they feel ill. If you start showing symptoms you need to call your doctor, get tested and tell your social circle so that they can get tested and/or home isolate. You would need to do this for anyone you’ve interacted with and then they would need to for their circles as well.”

Risky Business: Love And Sex In A Germaphobic World is a HuffPost series exploring the way that coronavirus is changing the way we date, have sex and enjoy intimacy.

A Phicklephilly Guide To Coronavirus

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  • What you need to know about face masks right now
  • How to tell if you need to start doing online therapy
  • Lost your job due to coronavirus? Here’s what you need to know.
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Experts are still learning about the novel coronavirus. The information in this story is what was known or available as of press time, but it’s possible guidance around COVID-19 could change as scientists discover more about the virus. Please check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the most updated recommendations.

 

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Zumping? Here’s What You Need To Know About The Latest Dating Trend

Ugh. Not another one.

What’s the worst way that someone could break up with you? Maybe it’s over a text message or in a voicemail? In most cases, we would prefer that our significant other dump us in person, because it seems like the appropriate thing to do.

But what happens when you can’t even see your partner, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and you decide that it’s time to call it quits?

Many people are turning to the closest alternative to in-person breakups during this time by scheduling a Zoom conference to dump their significant other.

This new form of breaking up, referred to as “zumping,” allows couples to see each other and their reactions without breaking any social distancing rules.

The word “zumped” is a combination of the words ”Zoom” and “dumped.” Although many couples now use Zoom or other video conferencing apps to host their dinner dates or even a wedding, a Zoom call could spell the end of a relationship for some couples.

For the person being dumped, “zumping” sounds like the worst possible breakup that you could imagine.

However, let’s play devil’s advocate for just a second here and look at this from the angle of the person who’s dumping their significant other.

If you decide that this relationship should end, but you’re unable to see your partner during this time of quarantine, then you can’t break up with them in person.

Of course, you could possibly wait until life goes back to normal, but why prolong a relationship if you know that it’s going to fail?

You don’t want to simply text them or slide into their DMs to say that it’s over, though, so what do you do? Well, as it turns out, you can “zump” them.

Does it sound awful? Yes, it does. But aren’t all breakups awful? And at least they had the guts to actually look you in the face while they did it, instead of opting for something like a phone call or a text.

And honestly, I’d rather have someone dump me over Zoom than to waste weeks of my life with them. I wouldn’t want to invest my time in a relationship if my partner has already checked out of it.

But do we really need a separate word to describe someone who’s dumping their partner over Zoom? Probably not.

There are millions of different ways that someone can dump you these days, and we don’t always create new terms for all of them.

Since “zumping” is a part of the pandemic, though, it is probably going to be here to stay. But at least now you know what it means.

 

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Lockdown Might Lead to a Drop in STI Rates, But It Could Also Spark an Increase in STI Stigma

Fear of coronavirus infection could spark renewed fear of sexually transmitted infections

Bad news: Pandemic lockdowns are putting hookups on hold all over the world. Better news: Pressing pause on hookups might also halt the spread of sexually transmitted infections and give more people a chance to get tested before potentially passing on an infection to a new partner. Worse news: Global panic surrounding the viral coronavirus pandemic could prove as contagious as the virus itself, possibly sparking a regressive resurgence of STI shame and stigma.

Going back to the silver lining for a moment, doctors in the U.K. posit that lockdown conditions could greatly improve the nation’s sexual health, with Dr. John McSorley calling this period of relative sexlessness a “game changer” and urging people to get tested before lockdowns end and everyone returns to their regularly scheduled sleeping around.

“If we could test and treat everybody for their infections now, that would be a game-changer going forward as people slowly move towards normality,” McSorley, a sexual health doctor and president of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, told BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat.

Justin Harbottle, of sexual health testing organization SH:24, echoed McSorley, calling this period of pandemic-imposed abstinence a “once-in-a-lifetime event” for the future of sexual health. “Even at the start of the HIV epidemic, I don’t think you had such a clean-cut period where collectively – as a population – people stopped having sex with new partners,” said Harbottle.

Unfortunately, one thing we definitely did have during the HIV epidemic was plenty of shame, stigma and moral panic surrounding sex, sexually transmitted infections, and the people who contracted (or were presumed likely to contract) them. And as STI anti-stigma activists have pointed out, our current panic surrounding the coronavirus pandemic could cause those attitudes to crop up again.

ella dawson

@brosandprose

Now that we’re all talking about how important it is to get rapid COVID-19 testing to slow down the pandemic…

| ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ |
| When were |
| you last |
| tested for |
| STIs? |
| _______|
(\__/) ||
(•ㅅ•) ||
/ づ

ella dawson

@brosandprose

I’m worried that the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic is going to lead to even more ignorant, knee-jerk fear of common viruses like herpes and HPV, and a strengthening of STI stigma in general. People are scared of infection right now and that attitude will ripple.

“I’m worried that the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic is going to lead to even more ignorant, knee-jerk fear of common viruses like herpes and HPV, and a strengthening of STI stigma in general,” writer Ella Dawson wrote in a tweet last month. “People are scared of infection right now and that attitude will ripple.”

More recently, Dawson has noted other similarities between flawed responses to the pandemic and misconceptions surrounding sexual health. “The people who are pushing to re-open society because they think the COVID-19 pandemic is exaggerated are the same people who think I’m an immoral disease vector because I have herpes,” Dawson wrote in a Twitter thread Monday. “Some people think they’re not at risk of COVID-19 because they’re too good for it, they’re the exception. They ascribe morality and inherent worth to whether or not they’re at risk of contracting a virus,” she continued, comparing the coronavirus response to an all too common line of thought that casts STIs as a kind of punishment for sexual wrongdoing or inherent moral failure.

“‘I don’t need to wear a mask, I’m not at risk of COVID-19’ is the new ‘I don’t need to wear a condom, the girls I have sex with aren’t dirty sluts,’” Dawson concluded.

ella dawson

@brosandprose

Replying to @brosandprose

It makes sense, honestly. Some people think they’re not at risk of COVID-19 because they’re too good for it, they’re the exception. They ascribe morality and inherent worth to whether or not they’re at risk of contracting a virus.

Guess what, Karen! Viruses don’t discriminate.

ella dawson

@brosandprose

“I don’t need to wear a mask, I’m not at risk of COVID-19” is the new “I don’t need to wear a condom, the girls I have sex with aren’t dirty sluts.”

None of this is to say that the doctors urging people to take this time to prioritize their sexual health are promoting stigma. People should absolutely get tested before hooking up with any new partners post-lockdown (though that’s always the case, lockdown or no lockdown). But as discussions of STIs inevitably get pulled into the coronavirus conversation, it’s important to avoid transposing fears about coronavirus onto other infections, especially those with a history of stigma.

Illness of any kind is never a punishment for wrongdoing, nor is it a reflection of someone’s worth or standing, moral or otherwise.

 

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Breaking Up With Your Partner While Social Distancing Might Be Your Only Option

Adversity has a way of making or breaking relationships, highlighting problems, and pushing couples to their limits. Now, imagine adding the pressure of being unable to walk away from someone while your relationship is under duress, or taking the space you need to think through your conflict. If you’re considering breaking up with your partner while social distancing, isolation may have lead to the realization that you and your SO are not in it for the long-haul. And you’d rather end the relationship than spend one more second listening to each other chew, even if you’re currently stuck together.

Karla, 26, tells phicklephilly that social distancing took her relationship from casual to serious overnight, and it ended up being a dealbreaker. “Everything was great — we were going on day trips and playing board games and meeting each other’s friends,” she says. “Then, all of a sudden, coronavirus anxiety began, and we went from getting to know each other to date.”

After a couple days of cohabitation, I couldn’t stand him.

While self-isolating as a unit sounded like a good idea at first, Karla quickly realized she wasn’t ready for a live-in partner. Instead of enjoying their company, she felt overwhelmed and annoyed, craving privacy. “It was so much so fast,” she says, “and after a couple days of cohabitation, I couldn’t stand him.”

Eventually, she decided to call things off, and the two parted ways. “Had this not happened, we would’ve still been getting to know each other and having our distance while still enjoying each other’s company,” Karla says. “There’s a time and place for everything, and this just came far too soon for such a young relationship.”

Outside of a global pandemic, any number of drastic changes to your everyday routine has the potential to become a relationship stressor — starting a new job, moving to a new place, adjusting to a new schedule. When you’re already negotiating the chaos of an overwhelming shift in your day-to-day life, small problems can feel like big ones.

“As people #flattenthecurve, we may be forced to spend considerably more time with each other,” Danni Zhang, psychologist and managing director of New Vision Psychology, previously told phicklephilly. “It’s not uncommon for one person in a relationship to start thinking of getting out of said relationship.” Zhang emphasizes the importance of weighing whether you’re experiencing a dead-end or weathering temporary stress.

“Coronavirus has run the gamut of emotions in our relationship over the last couple of weeks,” Danielle, 33, tells Bustle. She and her husband of five years made it halfway through the second week of social distancing together, before they needed to establish a few quarantine rules in order to keep the peace.

The two made an agreement that, at least once a week, they’d part ways and enjoy a little alone time — relaxing in separate rooms, going for solo walks, and cooking alone for a much-needed respite. “Communicating how we are feeling without judgment has also been very important,” Danielle says. “Even though we are together, having time and space of our own is necessary, and allows that time together to be more valued.”

For couples on edge, Zhang suggests listing out the reasons why you love your partner in order to shift attention away from their habits that have got you on edge. But not all couples feel the investment is worth digging in their heels. Once they got a glimpse into their future together, they were ready to jump ship — even if that only meant moving from the bedroom to the couch.

“I’m fairly certain living together too soon was what pushed us to break up,” Karla says.

 

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Lovers in a dangerous time: Dating during a pandemic comes with baggage

The COVID-19 pandemic might be forcing weeks of physical distancing but it’s also driving many people to seek out emotional closeness during this period of isolation.

Multiple dating apps are reporting surges in membership as singles search for ways to make connections, pursue new relationships without one-on-one visits and in some cases, re-evaluate their personal lives as a whole.

“It really put my head in this space, ‘Gosh, look at you, you need to take your dating life more seriously,'” said Raquel Russell, 26. “In the back of my head, I was like, ‘I don’t want to be stuck in this situation again where I’m isolating by myself.'”

Russell, a content creator, is currently hunkering down with her parents in Halton Hills, Ont. She says soon after quarantining began, she turned to Bumble and other popular online dating sites to fill what was becoming an emotional void — even after swearing off the apps out of frustration just months earlier.

And she’s not alone, even though she says she certainly feels it sometimes.

Bumble Canada, part of the global social networking app, reported a 56 per cent increase in video calls during the week ending March 27 compared to the previous week — after most of North America had implemented strict physical distancing and isolation protocols.

Raquel Russell, Alex Palov and Catherine Aquilina explain what dating is like at a time of physical distancing:

“We’re actually hearing from users that they feel more relaxed when dating right now because the pressure of connecting in person is off,” said Bumble Canada marketing manager Meredith Gillies. “People are being slower and more thoughtful with their dating.”

Bumble has also seen the length of in-app video calls, which resemble Facetime without the need to exchange phone numbers, nearly double since the pandemic began.

“It’s a way of coping with the anxiety, a way of coping with the fear of the unknown,” said Canadian sex and relationship educator Shan Boodram, who hosts Sexology on the new mobile streaming service Quibi. “You realize how much you need people.”

The San Francisco-based dating app Coffee Meets Bagel is reporting similar spikes in usage. Co-founder Dawoon Kang says the company noticed an approximate 40 per cent increase in the U.S. when it came to the use of video dating — something she says was not utilized as much pre-pandemic.

“If you’re on a virtual date, you’re doing it from your home. You can actually see the place the other person is living in. You get to have a conversation about their living space. You get to see their dog,” said Kang. “During a first date, it’s so easy to just fall into the trap of sticking with the small talk.”

Virtual dates in separate living spaces can include cooking a recipe together, having drinks on video chat or pressing play on a movie at the same time.

Sexology host Shan Boodram explains how to virtual date and cope with isolation

Virtual dating has its limits

Toronto-based hairstylist Alex Palov, 22, is experiencing virtual dating first hand.

He met someone just before the rules around physical distancing tightened. So he’s had to rely on video chatting to help push the new relationship forward.

“The conversations start changing and you start maybe knowing more about the person and asking them more personal questions,” said Palov. “You almost just got to wait it out. There’s not much you could do. It’s either that, or you have to break the rules.”

This is really helping you find the people who are willing to stick it out. – Raquel Russell, 26, about dating online during a pandemic

While the average age of users for apps like Coffee Meets Bagel is 29, those in their 30s and 40s carry different responsibilities that make dating difficult at the best of times.

Single mother of two Catherine Aquilina says, once you add in a global pandemic, trying to find a connection that goes beyond a few texts can become near impossible.

“In our age bracket, somebody might be struggling with their job, with having to make mortgage payments, support payments, homeschooling their kids,” said Aquilina, 44. “And dating is probably the last thing on their mind.”

Aquilina says she’s had to put dating on hold because others in her age group aren’t available.

‘Emotional crutch’ or meaningful connection?

For those still putting themselves out there, physical distance can also be beneficial, according to Canadian relationship expert Wendy Walsh.

“People are forced to not get together and move too quickly into the bed,” said Walsh, a psychology professor and host of the L.A radio program, the Dr. Wendy Walsh Show. “They instead are spending time getting to know each other.”

Walsh says pandemic dating can be an “emotional crutch” for some and in those cases, “you might be ghosted by the end of this.” But it can also blossom into real relationships when people are willing to share their vulnerabilities, she said.

Russell said she is looking for that more genuine connection.

“It’s really showing you who’s willing to engage in actual meaningful long-term conversations. Not just, ‘What are you doing? Hi. Goodbye,'” she said. “This is really helping you find the people who are willing to stick it out.”

Having now progressed recently with some matches from texting to voice notes, she says if things get serious enough, she might be willing to take it to the next level of intimacy in these times: The phone call.

 

 

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