Valentine’s in a COVID World

As the beloved, feared, revered, and hated holiday approaches, singles and couples around the world face a new challenge in 2021.

Last year, all we had to worry about on Valentine’s Day was remembering to wear a condom, get a card, or stay the heck away from other people all day. This year, we need to remember there is a deadly virus to consider. Yes that’s right, something that’s worse than syphilis. (Cured with antibiotics folks, get tested.)

COVID is the micro-elephant in the room. It has added a new twist to everyone putting themselves out there in the dating world. The question of whether or not your partner has been tested now has an added test to consider. But even committed couples have hurdles to jump over this Valentine’s Day. So what are some ideas for making sure you and yours are kept safe this V-Day?

For the committed couples forced apart, I’m sure you’re already utilizing FaceTime. My boyfriend and I had to isolate from each other because he was possibly exposed to COVID last week. We had to wait for the virus to potentially incubate before he got his PCR test, so I stayed at a friend’s empty house while she was out of town. The night he finally got the test, he masked up and we FaceTimed while he made us dinner. I got to ‘hang’ in the kitchen with him while he cooked and tripped over the dog. Then, I drove over and got my dinner he’d made for me off of the porch. I went home and called him back and we FaceTimed again while we ate the same meal. It wasn’t the same as being near him, but it was a comforting hour or so of feeling nearly normal again. (I’d like to add he was negative, and we are very thankful!)

But FaceTiming goes to first dates too. If you’re not sure about someone you met on an app, you can take some time to speak to them as close to ‘in person’ as possible in this day and age. Sometimes, phone calls and texts just don’t give enough of an impression. You can even do something similar to my FaceTime date with my boyfriend. Ask them to have a glass of wine with you, or eat dessert at the same time. It will help stimulate discussion and also give a timer if the date is terrible.

Tailgating is another option for seeing new and old friends alike. Need to see more faces than just your partner’s? My friend, Rena, and her husband recently had a COVID-safe double date in Baton Rouge. “We did a car double date at a lake parking lot. We all sat in our trunks.” Everyone popped the trunks and perched, tailgate style, to get some fresh air, see some fresh faces, and leave the house. This is a lot easier for those fortunate enough to be in warmer weather right now, but I have personally bundled up and met friends at a park since the winter hit up here in RI.

Repurposing beach chairs for park hangs is common around these parts. I met some friends by the river the other day. They even took the time to pack me separate snacks, which they tossed to me on my beach blanket. We caught up until we all had to pee and then dispersed. Now personally, I’d love this for a first date setting. If it sucks, you say you need to pee and leave. If it’s great, you can make an exit and leave you both wanting more! As someone who tends to have a tough time walking away when having fun, this would be a great way for me to casually ‘play it cool’ for once.

To this point, meeting up in a car for a tailgate hang or a picnic if you’re able to, is a really nice way to date. I see a lot of people on very obvious first dates, sitting far apart in park benches all the time in Providence.

First dates are tough anyway, but in a COVID world — I can’t even imagine. I know friends who openly discuss testing and exposure potential with their first dates before seeing them. I have friends who will only message with people, not see them in person. In the end, it’s all about boundaries and what you’re comfortable with. Anyone who judges you for putting those boundaries up is a jerk who doesn’t understand anxiety so in the immortal words of Ariana Grande, “thank u, next.”

So anyway, those are some ideas for you to consider. Happy Valentine’s, no matter how you choose to spend your day!

Author of “Drink Like a Bartender”: rated one of the ‘Best Booze Books of 2017’ by “Forbes Magazine”, Published Poet + Attempted Novelist [theaengst.com]

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