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

  • Stay up to date with our live blog as we cover the COVID-19 pandemic
  • 7 essential pieces of relationship advice for couples in quarantine
  • 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.
  • Parenting during the coronavirus crisis?
  • What coronavirus questions are on your mind right now? We want to help you find answers.
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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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Dating Is Better During Quarantine, and It Doesn’t Have to Change

Before COVID-19, Vaneet’s dating life was “pretty much non-existent.”

“Asking people out IRL only led to rejection,” the 28-year-old says. “Apps were just a constant stream of being ghosted. It was exhausting, and I practically gave up dating.”

While most of us have been going through unbearable dry spells and deeply missing human touch, Vaneet and other singles have been reveling in the changes coronavirus has brought to the dating scene, including the curtailing of hookup culture for the sake of public health. (Even now, as parts of the country begin to reopen in various phases, we should still proceed with caution when meeting up with strangers.)

“Hookup culture has never been my thing, and while I don’t like one-night-stands, I’ve found it difficult to find anything beyond that,” Vaneet says.

Not anymore. At the beginning of quarantine, Vaneet met someone he liked on Grindr, the popular hookup app for queer men. Men typically use the app to meet up for sex, but now, a lot of guys are using it to chat with each other. Since Vaneet and his partner couldn’t meet up when they started messaging, they’ve had the pleasure of getting to know each other without the pressure of sex on the table—something that almost certainly wouldn’t have happened before COVID-19. Vaneet texts them every day, and they have date nights at least once a week on Zoom. They’ll make a plan to meet up whenever it feels safe; maybe then they’ll have sex, or maybe they’ll keep on getting to know each other.

Since the pandemic began, some people are happy they haven’t had to travel 40 minutes (or more) by train to a bad or mediocre date, and that they’ve saved a bunch of cash instead of spending it on dinner, drinks, and a movie. But the forging of deeper connections with the downfall of hookup culture is one of the biggest reasons people say they’ve appreciated the COVID-19 dating experience.

Before the pandemic, Eden, 28, says she “didn’t like the speed at which dating progressed.” Usually, within minutes of messaging a guy on Hinge, he would ask to meet up.

“I just don’t like that,” she says. “Let me get to know you first.”

Now, she’s been getting to know men better. Their conversations are deeper. She talks about her childhood, her past romantic experiences, and what she’s looking for in a relationship.

These are important topics for potential partners to discuss, and quarantine naturally brings it out of us, according to Shadeen Francis, LMFT.

“Superficial conversations are likely not going to be enough for a ‘quarantine bae,’ as it is hard to build or maintain a long-distance connection without vulnerable communication,” she says. In other words, if you’re not having meaningful conversations with someone, you’re going to get bored or lose interest. And of course, building a relationship from personal and meaningful conversations leads to a personal and meaningful relationship.

Oscar Wong

For Gregory, 29, the universal challenge of the past few months has made it refreshingly easy to be vulnerable with people. For the first time in a long time, it’s socially acceptable to reply to “How are you doing?” with “Well, to be honest, not great.”

“Now that we have all gone through the collective trauma of COVID-19, and the more recent Black Lives Matter movement, we’ve been given the opportunity to really examine our biases, and that has made us more vulnerable and more likely to be done with putting up facades,” Gregory says.

Of course, dates can also be fun, he adds: “You can bond over the shared trauma of COVID-19, or scream about how insane the MollyIssa feud is on Insecure, or somewhere in between.”

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It’s unclear whether this slowed down process of getting to know another on a more personal and sincere level will continue when the world officially opens up. While we’re incredibly adaptive for our survival, we’re also creatures of habit, Francis says—which is why she predicts many of us will return to our old patterns of behavior.

“As effective as any coping or survival strategy might have been, if folks do not consider it a long-term lifestyle change they are wanting to invest their energy into, then they will return to their regularly scheduled programming,” she says.

Still, that doesn’t have to be the case for everyone. Vaneet is cautiously optimistic about transitioning into dating post-coronavirus, hoping people will be more willing to give him a chance and get to know him on a deeper level.

“I hope the pandemic has stressed the importance of human interaction,” he says. “Maybe people will be more willing to give others a chance and get to know someone more first. And maybe, just maybe, more people will be willing to shoot their shot and see what happens.”

 

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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 Bustle 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 Bustle. “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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5 Changes To Expect In The Workplace After COVID-19

As a result of the coronavirus, the workplace will never be the same. Even the word “workplace” suddenly seems obsolete, as the physical location in which we now work has merged with the places in which we eat, sleep, learn, exercise, and play.

The COVID-19 crisis has created the ultimate “burning platform”—an unexpected, overnight opportunity for people to see the impact of swift and meaningful change, and to witness the negative consequences of trying to ignore this aberration from everyday life. Within organizations, the virus has been driving significant change in how their employees operate with each other, as well as with clients, customers, and vendors. Now that companies are shifting past their immediate response to the crisis, we’ve entered into a temporary “new normal.”

However, what will the long-term impacts of our new normal be on the world of work?

Winning organizations will be those that integrate and master digital work, community, and collaboration. To succeed, companies need to begin planning now for five key shifts:

1. Full digital transformation, supported by a truly virtual workforce

Companies have quickly figured out how to serve their customers and clients remotely, and there’s no going back. From telemedicine in hospitals to remote learning for public schools and streaming fitness classes, every industry has accelerated its own digital transformation. As a result, the demand for highly skilled remote workers will continue to increase.

With a surge of candidates in the market, organizations should be preparing to recruit and integrate these key individuals into the organization quickly and seamlessly, so they can capitalize on the cost savings and broader access to rockstar talent.

2. Focus on outputs versus face time

Being the first one in the office and the last one to leave is no longer a measure of commitment and performance. In a post-COVID-19 world, employees will be measured on what gets done and the value of their work rather than on the individual tasks and the time it takes to get the work done.

Leaders must provide crisp, outcome-driven expectations so that their people can deliver on goals successfully. Motivating employees to perform will require modeling and measurement of their outputs and being clear on those metrics. Companies must level-set expectations for what drives organizational priorities and goals, rather than discrete tasks.

3. Respect for work-life blend

More than ever before, companies are recognizing that working “nine to five” is unsuited to the demands of a modern workforce. If leaders can place greater emphasis on flexibility for people to accomplish their best work—when and how it meets their personal needs (as well as the needs of the company)—they can reinforce the cultural shift of measuring staff based on performance, which can result in exponential benefits for the organization.

Organizations must remove stigma and support employees’ needs to make time for self-care–including exercise, meals, and family time. Policies and procedures need to reflect these shifts, and leaders must model a true work-life blend so that it becomes part of the company culture.

4. Stronger communications

Now that companies have gone fully virtual, individuals are communicating more efficiently and more frequently across a networked environment. To do this well, everyone, at every level, must make opportunities for dialogue by employing numerous channels.

Leaders can make communication easier for their people. They can remove roadblocks, create a governance structure that pushes decision-making out and down, and provide employees with the tools and training they need to empower them for ongoing communication and local decision-making. With traditional hierarchies gone, true leaders must step up to facilitate information flow across the organization.

5. Increased trust, transparency, and empathy

We are witnessing a revolution in leadership. In a recent leadership study of Fortune 500 executives and entrepreneurs, respondents cited behaviors such as humility and listening skills as essential qualities of great change leaders. And leadership experts such as Kim Scott and Brené Brown have long proselytized about the importance of candor and vulnerability. Now, leaders and employees must understand and support each other like never before. People are sharing more about their personal situations with colleagues, and as a result, they are creating an expectation of humanity, active listening, support, and connection.

Leaders that demonstrate these qualities and publicly recognize excellence in their people will earn greater trust and loyalty from their employees. Leaders who seize this mindset now will be better prepared to engage employees for the long term, regardless of the external environment.

If there’s one thing everyone can agree on, it’s that COVID-19 is driving change in our behaviors, and the workplace is no exception. To begin shifting our idea of what’s possible in the workforce after the curve flattens, leaders must take hold of what’s working today and integrate it quickly into the everyday. Rather than waiting for reentry and being reactive, leaders need to prepare, setting expectations for the ways of working that will benefit the organization down the road, so employees can focus on the strategic business priorities of the future.

 

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Will Your Love Last Past The Pandemic? How To Tell If You’re Being Coronazoned

Your Co-Star is telling you to “embrace the now with grace,” but you’ve been wearing the same sweatpants for three days and forget what going outside feels like. The good news? Your coronavirus crush is coming along swimmingly: You’ve texted back and forth, exchanged a few nudes, and even discussed how nice it would be if you could social distance together. But there’s a slight catch: Whenever you bring up the prospect of going on an actual date in the real world, you get left on read. How will your love last past quarantine?

Friend, if this is happening to you, you might be getting coronazoned.

The pandemic-pegged cousin of “friendzoning”, coronazoning can be defined as engaging in flirty, romantic, and/or sexual conversation with someone you have no intention of dating once social-distancing is over, solely because self-isolation is leaving you bored and lonely.

And like getting friendzoned, it absolutely sucks.

If you’re worried your COVID-19 courtship won’t make it past incubation, here are five signs you might be getting coronazoned.

1. They’re more interested in your pet than your personality.

While I’m sure your rare fish is amazing, if your crush is more interested in getting cute videos of your dog eating peanut butter out of the container than getting to know you, they’re probably not in it for the long haul.

“People seek relationships during high-stress times to serve as a means of escape in different ways,” Pricilla Martinez, founder of Regroop Online Life Coaching, tells Bustle.

Listen, spending all day talking about coronavirus can be exhausting, and it’s natural to need a reprieve (or a flood of funny videos). But if your crush only asks to see pictures of your pussy cat (I’m talking about your actual cat) and changes the subject whenever you bring up how worried you are about your grandparents? You, my dear, should call the zoning board — Because you’re likely getting coronazoned.

2. They’ll vent all day about their roommate Kyle but never ask about your life.

When an entire week’s worth of conversation is comprised of you listening to them vent about their roommate doing CrossFit in the living room and quelling their fears of never going to Coachella again, you may be getting coronazoned.

“Given the high level of stress and anxiety with the pandemic issues, it’s absolutely natural to feel scared and confused” Dr. Carla Marie Manly, clinical psychologist and author of Joy from Fear, tells Bustle.

As Manley shares, you don’t have to be a water sign to need a little extra emotional support right now. Still, if you find yourself constantly comforting your crush and they’ve never asked how you’re coping, it may be time to reevaluate.

In short: if you’re feeling like your crush’s therapist, parent, and life coach named Zelda, you’re probably in the zone. The coronazone.

3. They only hit you up between lunch & 6:00 p.m.

Long gone are the days of late-night booty calls and last call-inspired hookups. As bars and restaurants close their doors, and more and more people are working from home, it seems like everyone is looking for someone — anyone — to exchange breakout room small talk with. Consider a 1:00 p.m., “What’s up?!” to be the quarantine edition of a 1:00 a.m., “U up?”

While it’s nice to have someone to schmooze with during the day, if you’re looking for a long-term relationship, and your crush just needs someone to G-Chat on their work-from-home lunch break, you’re probably getting coronazoned.

4. When you try to hold eye contact over Zoom, they angle their camera at their crotch.

If you and your date are both seeking some temporary comfort or excitement, getting virtually frisky can be a major stress reliever. However, per Dr. Manly, “if one person is hoping for a long-term reconnection, and the other is seeking temporary comfort — not addressing this discrepancy can lead to hurt feelings, confusion, and anger,”

Sexting just to sext can be flipping amazing. Turning up the heat over FaceTime for one night? You love to see it. But if you’re looking for a deep connection and your date just wants you to sit on their Face(Time), you might not be on the same page about what you’re looking for on the other side of self-isolation.

5. Their phone dies every time you mention making post-quarantine plans.

You and your new boo don’t need to commit to each other for life. But when you ask your quarantine crush if they’d like to grab a drink whenever bars reopen, and they respond, “Oh no! My phone battery is about to die!” (or, better yet, don’t respond at all), you’re likely getting a socially distant snubbing.

“It’s important to be intentional about what this looks like after the stressful period,” Jaclyn Lopez Witmer, licensed clinical psychologist at Therapy Group of NYC, tells Bustle. “Agreement on expectations and needs is critical.”

If your quarantine crush is always bailing on your FaceTime dates, has never asked about life outside your apartment, and takes days to respond to your DMs, they’re probably not as invested in your happiness as you are in theirs. You deserve someone that’s going to prioritize you — during a global pandemic and every other damn day.

 

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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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Here’s How To Have Safe FaceTime Sex

Sexting and exchanging nudes is fun, but it’s not always enough to get you off when you and your partner can’t be together IRL. More than sexy Snapchats — and even more than tried-and-true phone sex — FaceTime sex is the closest you can get to enjoying the real-time thrills of sex IRL, and it’s not just for committed couples. FaceTime sex with a casual partner can always be an option if you want it to be. But, like with in-person sex, safe FaceTime sex should always be a priority — especially when you’re doing it with someone you don’t know too well.

In a long-distance relationship, you and your SO already have an established foundation of trust. Partners can nurture intimacy for months, or even years, before going long-distance. But that trust might not exist with someone you’ve only known for a few weeks, or with someone you’ve never actually met IRL at all. That’s why it’s important to take safety precautions during sex — no matter what form it takes — just like you would with IRL f*ck buddies, flings, and one-night stands.

Keep these pro-tips in mind if you’re curious about how to have FaceTime sex safely.

Be Selective About What You Show

Moyo Studio/E+/Getty Images

Approach FaceTime sex the way you’d approach sending nudes. For one, don’t include your face in the frame. “Keep in mind that tattoos can also be big signifiers, so try to avoid having any of them in nude photos, too,” Gigi Engle, certified sex coach and SKYN Sex and Intimacy Expert, tells Elite Daily.

Along with your face and tattoos, you’ll want to leave certain personal items or decorations out of the shot, too. “Whether FaceTiming or sending photos of any kind, be sure not to reveal identifying details in the background,” Alison Falk, a cybersecurity professional and president of Women of Sextech, tells Elite Daily. “It’s extremely easy to determine the location of where people live and work, when even the slightest details are exposed.”

If your cyber-sexual relationship develops beyond a one-night stand, you may not have to worry about hiding your face or tattoos in the future, but that might take some time. “Trust needs to be built before you engage in higher-risk sexting,” Dr. Chris Donaghue, a certified sex therapist and SKYN Sex and Intimacy Expert, tells Elite Daily.

Discuss Screenshots

While STDs, STIs, and pregnancy aren’t concerns that come with digital sex, it does pose its own risks: screenshots, screen recordings, and your partner possibly posting these nudes without consent. “These are things that don’t need to deter you, but you should discuss this possibility and talk about how violating it would be,” Engle explains. “It is sexual assault, as far as I’m concerned. Be open and honest that this would be completely not OK with you, and make sure they feel exactly the same way about it.”

No federal, anti-revenge porn law exists, says Falk. “So do everything possible to protect yourself legally.”

Forgo Alcohol & Other Substances

Dean Mitchell/E+/Getty Images

Make sure your mind is clear while engaging in FaceTime sex. If you enjoy indulging in some wine or other substances to take the edge off, consider abstaining prior to your cyber-sesh, says Engle, as they can impair your judgment and lead you to reveal more than you’re actually comfortable with. Especially if it’s your first time having FaceTime sex, leave the White Claws and weed behind.

Get Cryptic

When it comes to digital sex, privacy should be top-of-mind. “Do your homework first and be sure to use the right apps,” Falk says. “Everything is hackable. There is no bulletproof way to ensure 100% privacy with anything in our digital lives.” One encrypted app she recommends as an alternative to FaceTime or Zoom is Signal, which does have a video call feature. While you do still need to be wary of screenshots, Signal’s encryption protects you against hacking.

Make Sure You’re Comfortable

Charday Penn/E+/Getty Images

With both cyber sex or sex IRL, trust is the name of the game. But discerning whether your dating app match is trustworthy can be tricky. “This isn’t someone you know very well, so you can’t make that kind of call,” Engle says. “There is no special formula for accessing whether someone is a creep or not.”

Likewise, while Donaghue acknowledges the benefits of online sexual expression, he urges against having FaceTime sex with people you’re not super comfortable with. “Emotionally, you want to be able to let your guard down and really enjoy the eroticism and arousal.”

Even though there’s no real way to tell whether your digital f*ck buddy is someone you can trust, you can ask all the right questions to make that judgment to the best of your ability. Discuss what they’ve done with screenshots during other forms of cyber sex, like sexting. “Ask them what they did with pics they have been sent in the past from others, and if they ever share them,” Donaghue advises. “If they explain that they sext ethically and therefore delete after the sexting goal has been achieved — or the relationship ends — then that’s a good starting point.”

When you’re embarking on your sensual FaceTime adventures, remember that the same way dental dams, condoms, birth control and frank conversations can help put you at ease, so can taking proactive steps toward safe FaceTime sex.

 

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The Most Common Reasons for Divorce, According to Marriage Counselors

And nope, it’s not the pandemic.

Falling in love is a thing of elation, and then there’s the wedding day. Two partners star in their own rom-com, vows are spoken, the audience claps, and the newlyweds ride off into the sunset together, with decades of marital bliss on the horizon. Their love will surely stand the test of time…or will it? In fact, what if there comes a day when the marriage simply becomes loveless?

In the honeymoon phase, the prospect of divorce may feel light years away. But the reality of making a marriage work is not as simple as a stroll down the aisle. While all relationships experience trials, and even the healthiest couples fluctuate in terms of mutual happiness, unfortunately, some differences prove to be irreconcilable—even toxic.

We linked up with some experts who enlightened us to the most common reasons couples seek divorce, as well as topics that show up in marital counseling sessions and in the courtroom. So if thoughts of divorce are blinking on your radar, ahead is a wealth of information to help you validate whether or not your “happily ever after” has become “better off apart.”

So what are the most common reasons marriages fall apart?

Divorce attorney, Kelly Frawley, partner at Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP, claims to have heard it all—from, “I can’t stand his family” to protests over a partner’s changing body. The two most common reasons echoing throughout her practice, however? Money battles and relational boredom. “Couples may disagree about spending habits as well as the bigger financial picture in terms of savings and retirement goals,” she says.

And then there is the boredom piece—when the sense of adventure and passion has lost its pulse. Frawley says this often happens when couples lose their ability to relate day to day. “People may find they do not share the same interests as they once did, or they’re not excited about being intimate with their spouse.”

Frawley’s observations are well-aligned with a recent divorce study, where roughly 40 percent of its participants cited financial issues and “getting married too young” as having been major players in their marriage’s demise. Infidelity and conflict were mentioned even more–with almost 60 percent of the participating divorcees admitting that extramarital affairs and excessive arguing were among their final straws. But the most shouted complaint of all? A lack of commitment—coming in at a whopping 75 percent.

There’s no one year of marriage that you’re most vulnerable to divorce.

Dr. Lori Whatley, clinical psychologist, licensed marriage and family therapist and author of Connected & Engaged says that there does seem to a popular time to get divorced, regardless of whether you’ve been together for two years or twenty: intense periods of adjustment.

“The first year is extremely hard and often comes with surprises, because it’s a merging of beliefs, separate family traditions and financial habits, in order to create a new family unit,” she says.

And for couples who decide to toss a child into the mix, the surprises don’t end there. “When children are introduced, it can be an absolute shock for a lot of couples,” says Dr. Whatley. Say, for example, when partners trade in their sexy, wine-drenched date nights and spontaneous weekend getaways for a sleep-deprived blur of feeding, burping and changing diapers. Or, there could be issues with an interfering in-law whose heightened presence as a grandparent negatively bleeds over into the way one views their spouse.

Regardless, Dr. Whatley has observed that if a couple is already struggling to harmonize their personalities and goals, the newfound responsibility of a child may put further strain on the marriage.

Finally, empty nesters are often struck with yet another challenging stretch. After years spent hauling kids to music lessons and sporting practices, many couples suddenly find themselves seated alone at a quiet dinner table—sometimes unable to organically lock eyes. “Some partners aren’t sure they can connect with each other privately anymore,” she says. “They may have neglected their intimacy for years, and then there is nothing left to salvage.”

Emily Pollock, partner at Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP, says that, while her firm represents individuals in all stages of marriage—she has noticed that the majority of cases “are closer to the middle of the spectrum—between 7 and 14 years.”

Unmet expectations is another top cause of divorce.

Sometimes spouses discover that they clash. From personality conflicts to glaring political differences, perhaps there has been no single eruptive event and there is no one person to blame. They just want to be shown the exit door.

Dr. Whatley explains that the first year or two of a romance is fueled by a cocktail of chemicals like dopamine and oxytocin—creating an intoxicating haze of blind distraction. But then the intoxication runs out, and any red flags that were once ignored have taken center stage. “When the body physiologically calms down, and you’re no longer crazy in love, you’re doing real life together. And you may realize that you and your spouse are fundamentally different people,” she says.

Dr. Whatley adds that, based upon her observation, the most common reason for irreconcilable differences is unmet expectations. “People often create all of these expectations that their spouse will eventually adjust certain behaviors or habits to better suit their own. But you can never change another person; you can only change yourself.”

Of course, infidelity is another leading reason.

However, Dr. Whatley says it doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker. “Infidelity is almost always a symptom of another problem. While some marriages never heal from it, I have seen many couples create even better marriages after working through the issues surrounding it,” she says.

Denna Babul, relationship expert and author of the upcoming book Love Strong: Change Your Narrative, Change Your Life and Take Your Power Back agrees. “If a marriage has a solid foundation that, over time, becomes compromised in some way, infidelity can happen in marriages that are ultimately worth saving–so long as the person who cheated is genuinely remorseful and committed to rebuilding the relationship’s trust,” she says.

But there’s a catch. In order to come back from infidelity, the person who was betrayed must still be able to see their spouse in a recognizably loving light. “If the person is so hurt that they are no longer able to see their spouse as the one they fell in love with, that may ultimately destroy the marriage,” says Babul.

In a 2019 survey, “lack of intimacy” was cited as one of the most prevalent factors.

In a 2019 study published by Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, the most common reason for divorce was found to be a lack of love and intimacy. Dr. Shannon Chavez, Los Angeles-based psychologist and sex therapist, says that sexless marriages are shockingly common, and that the majority of her divorced clients report having experienced its pain. “In sexless marriages, a person can go a long time without feeling desired and loved, and their self-esteem can take serious hits because of it,” she says.

So, in such a case, it’s understandable why a person might wish to leave a marriage that’s left them untouched for months or years. But Dr. Chavez urges her clients to consider that, while eroticism fades over time, a seemingly flat-lined sex life doesn’t necessarily mean that divorce papers should be filed. “If there is still a connection there, couples can work to check in with each other’s desires and find new ways to excite and indulge in each other. Unless there are other serious issues within the marriage, in the majority of cases, it’s definitely possible to revive the intimacy and sexual connection,” she says.

What if your spouse is emotionally or physically abusive?

In a recent study, nearly a quarter of divorcees cited domestic violence as a major contributor to the expiration of their marriage. Katie Hood, TED Speaker and CEO of One Love Foundation says that the evolution of an abusive marriage is quite sneaky—often disguised in the early days as healthy love. “It usually starts with the abusive spouse dominating all of your time and energy, then slowly isolating you from friends and family. Before long, you may have little to no support system outside of the marriage,” she says.

Other classic signs of abuse are control (i.e. your spouse micromanages your social media presence or freaks when you attempt to forge an identity outside of the marriage), a cycle of blaming, gaslighting and punishment, and high volatility. “The abused may feel like they are walking on eggshells—constantly framing their decisions in an effort to avoid a negative reaction from their spouse,” she says. Worst of all? The cycle of abusive behavior is so psychologically complex that it conditions the abused to lose faith in themselves. “The whole process of abuse breaks down a person’s conviction. If the abuser is constantly saying, ‘This isn’t my fault; it’s your fault,’ the abused loses confidence in their own judgment,” says Hood.

So if one has reached their capacity for tolerating abuse, and is mulling over plans to divorce, Hood emphasizes the necessity of putting safety protocols in place. “Abusive relationships are all about control. Filing for divorce is the ultimate break in that control, so this is why gathering a support system with safety planning is essential before leaving an abusive marriage,” she says.

But not all divorces are a result of “serious” issues.

Perhaps it’s not that there is anything horribly wrong in the marriage; there just isn’t enough left that feels right.

For example, let’s say your spouse married a junk food addict, and the two of you bonded over a mutual fondness for nachos and cookie dough ice cream, but, over time, your curiosity about fitness and clean eating accelerated into a passion, and you evolved into a wellness enthusiast. Or, perhaps you were agnostic when you married, but have since become aligned with a spiritual belief system that your spouse deems as woo-woo. Over time, you may feel like the two of you exist in separate universes.

Dr. Whatley says it’s not typically the changes that create the problems, but a spouse’s resistance to those changes that cause the breakdown of a marriage. “Is your spouse willing to let you grow and live in a way that is meaningful to you? Are they willing to learn about and support the activities you deeply love? If that doesn’t happen, it can cause a person to feel like they’ve outgrown a marriage, sometimes leading to divorce,” she says.

And the same goes for ones that happen in couples that have been together for decades.

While it’s often puzzling when couples, after many successful years together—perhaps spent building a life filled with gorgeous family photographs–decide to start over separately, Dr. Whatley says it’s not so mysterious. She explains it can be attributed to the small, daily ripples of change that eventually lead to monumental differences over time. “The period after 30 or 35 years of marriage can be strikingly tough. “People evolve and change slowly and steadily over the years, and sometimes they wake up and realize that they didn’t evolve and change as a couple,” she says.

Dr. Whatley adds that when women start to cross out of middle-age and approach their golden years, it’s not uncommon for them to reconsider a myriad of things about their life. “In recent years, there has been strong evidence of women in their late 50s and early 60s seeking divorce more and more. I’ve seen it in a few studies as well as in my practice,” she says. “I think it’s a time when one evaluates their worth, as well as how they want to make the most of the rest of their days.”

For a marriage to thrive, there has to be mutual respect, but not necessarily constant happiness.

Dr. Whatley believes the most essential ingredient in a healthy marriage is mutuality. “You need mutual respect and a mutual emotional connection.” She adds, “Reasonable behavior in a marriage does not have to do with acting or feeling happy all of the time. Happiness in a relationship is not a constant state; it wouldn’t be special if it was. It’s about the two parties who sometimes disagree and mess up, but always bounce back—because they each want to bounce back.”

Hood says we have to fight the narrative that there exists a marriage on high where two partners are perfectly in sync and fair with each other all of the time. The key is to be able to safely communicate when you aren’t in sync, and when you feel you’ve been wronged. That differentiates a worthwhile marriage from a toxic one. “When you feel disappointed, hurt or trapped, in any way, can you have that conversation and still be heard fairly?”

How is the coronavirus impacting marriages?

Dr. Whatley says that 2020 is an interesting year for marriages, and predicts there will be droves of relational paradigm shifts on the other side of the pandemic. “I have some clients who are quarantined with their spouse in small places. If they were on the fence about their marriage, this has brought immense clarity—some have grown closer, while many have realized that it’s simply not working,” she says.

Pollock says that the shelter-in-place orders are provoking individuals to take a microscope to their relationships. When the freedom to venture out of the house for a cocktail, or to a friend’s place to blow off steam is stripped away, having nowhere to run sort of serves as a magnifier—of both the good and the bad. “We have gotten calls from people who have been prompted to seek divorce counsel as a result of examining their relationships. We are encouraging people not to make any final decisions based on these very unusual circumstances during which everyone is under significant stress,” she says.

So while some individuals may be inspired to view their relationships in a light of heightened gratitude, Pollock says others “may have entered the crisis viewing their marriage as not great but ‘good enough,’ but will leave it with a new perspective that life is too short to settle for ‘good enough.’”

At the end of the day, divorce happens because a marriage has lost its glue.

Regardless of the reasons that provoke thoughts of divorce, how does one know when it’s really over? Dr. Whatley says it’s when the marriage has lost its glue. “You know that special thing you bond over, that has always held you together—in conflict, in tragedy, or after a huge mistake? Couples can come back from so many awful things, but only when the glue is still there. If it’s lost, if it starts to feel indifferent, that’s when the marriage falls apart.” She adds, “…and that is when it is nearly impossible to be put back together.”

 

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Being Tired Because Of Coronavirus Stress Is A Common Reaction, Doctors Say

Without a commute, you’ve been able to get your eight hours of sleep a night for the first time since college, but you’re still a zombie during the day. Worse, knowing that one of the symptoms of coronavirus is fatigue is making you second-guess that you’re otherwise feeling fine. Doctors say that there’s another explanation — coronavirus-related sleep issues can actually be related to trauma.

“In these times of uncertainty, many people may be feeling fearful and anxious about things that are beyond their control,” Dr. Nicole Tang, D.Phil.Dr. Shilpa Patel, Ph.D.; and Dr. Harbinder Sandu, Ph.D., researchers at the University of Warwick, tell Bustle via email. “Stress, worry and anxiety can all contribute to fatigue, which may be exacerbated by the situation we find ourselves in.” Overthinking, fear, and grief, as well as the disruption of our usual routines, can affect the quality of your sleep and your energy the following day.

Exhaustion is a well-known response to traumatic events, whether they’re sudden shocks or long drawn-out changes like the ones we’re experiencing now. The Royal College of Psychiatrists notes that during and after a traumatic experience of any kind, you may experience sleep problems, poor concentration and memory, and brain fog.

“Our mood and sleep are responsive to our anxiety and stress levels,” the University of Warwick researchers say. “If we are not sleeping well at night, it’s understandable why we feel tired during the day.” People with post-traumatic stress disorder often experience exhaustion and sleep problems, but anybody coping with intense emotions can feel it too.

In people with coronavirus, fatigue is most often accompanied by several other symptoms. If you’re just feeling tired and no other symptoms ensue — like a cough or fever — there’s a strong chance that you’re psychologically stressed, not coming down with COVID-19. A roundup of research on hospitalized COVID-19 patients published in JAMA in February 2020 noted that 98% of patients had a fever, 82-79% had dry cough, and 11-44% had fatigue. The European Center for Disease Control & Prevention (ECDC) issued guidance on March 12 that named fatigue as the third most common symptom, occurring in 38% of laboratory-confirmed coronavirus cases; fever occurred in 88%, while dry cough occurred in 68%.

“If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, like a dry cough, sore throat, or fever, contact your medical health care practitioner,” Dr. Seema Sarin, M.D., an internal medicine physician, tells Bustle.

The best way to deal with this lack of energy, experts say, is to wait and see if you develop other coronavirus symptoms — and try to handle your psychological stress while you do. Isolation can contribute to this feeling, the University of Warwick researchers say, so it’s important to keep in touch with others using Facetime, Zoom, or Houseparty if you can. “Set small and achievable goals and pace yourself; both under-activity and over-activity can lead to fatigue,” they say. “Be kind to yourself and others.” Dr. Sarin also recommends staying away from social media if you can and limiting news intake to trusted sources like the CDC, to reduce constant exposure to stressful events.

 

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Feeling Calm During The Coronavirus Pandemic Is A Valid Reaction, Experts Say

The news is full of advice on how to stay calm during the coronavirus pandemic — but what if, actually, you’ve been feeling pretty OK? Psychologists say that keeping your cool isn’t an inappropriate reaction to what’s going on right now, even if you feel like everyone around you is in panicking. People who feel less rattled than they think they should might be reacting in line with their temperament, their experience with previous traumas, and their overall panic levels over time.

“While the impact of coronavirus is global, the reactions are decidedly individual,” Dr. Gregory Nawalanic M.D., a clinical psychologist with the University of Kansas Health System, tells Bustle. “There is no specifically ‘right’ way to respond to a pandemic.” A person’s reactions to extreme situations tend to moderate over time, and you may feel more relaxed now if you were initially very worried. “The folks who initially panicked trend toward a calmer space of acceptance, in the same way that those who initially dismissed the potential impact will trend toward activated understanding,” he says. Or so we hope.

Some people are also inherently calmer than others in the face of threats or anxiety-provoking events. “Everyone has their own innate temperament, how they are wired, so to speak,” Dr. Nadia E. Charguia M.D., a psychiatrist with the Department of Psychiatry at University of North Carolina Health, tells Bustle. “We all are on a spectrum when it comes to our character traits,” she says.

A woman bakes bread at home. If you're feeling calm during the coronavirus pandemic, experts say that's okay
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You may also be finding some aspects of isolation soothing, especially if you’re introverted by nature. “The reduced interactions, and not needing to be ‘on our top game’ socially, can give us a sense of safety, familiarity, and calmness,” Dr. Joshua Klapow Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, tells Bustle. “We are reminded that we can be in our pajamas, take off our shoes and sit in our favorite chair.” The familiar things in your environment can be really effective in calming you down.

Previous experience with trauma can also make people more chill. “Many people have had prior exposure to highly stressed situations, and as a result, may no longer exhibit a stressed, strained or anxious response,” Dr. Charguia says. If any part of this experience feels familiar,  you may feel more relaxed about living through it.

That said, some people might be feeling extra calm because they’re repressing their anxiety. Dr. Nawalanic says that if you’ve been feeling oddly detached or unemotional, your anxiety might be manifesting itself in other ways, like mood swings, sleep problems, depression, or strain in your relationships. If you’re repressing your feelings about coronavirus, he says, it’s likely they might bubble up after the situation is resolved, and you could start feeling really anxious once lockdown is over.

“Those who appear strangely calm in the face of loss and hardship right now might be more in need of mental health support than those who are appropriately acknowledging and expressing their feelings,” Dr. Nawalanic says. If you’re concerned that your no-worries demeanor is covering up deeper feelings, talk to a supportive person in your life, or try reaching out to a therapist.

If you’re feeling pretty OK about things right now, though, try not to stress about it — some people just deal with upheaval in their own, calm way.

If you or someone you know is seeking help for mental health concerns, visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website, or call 1-800-950-NAMI(6264). For confidential treatment referrals, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website, or call the National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP(4357). In an emergency, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or call 911.

 

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