Living through a pandemic is challenging for everyone, but for those single folks out there, it presents some dating challenges those coupled up don't need to worry about. Is it safe to date? If so, how do you end a date if you can't kiss or touch the person without compromising your health or theirs? Do you give them a salute or the elbow bump? And what about sex, how could you possibly be intimate with someone without putting that person at risk? While several public health departments released these tips, you have to wonder what the future will bring.
Sure, FaceTime dates are becoming popular, but with states starting to reopen, how many of us are going to keep this trend around? Of course, state guidelines are requiring masks in certain areas, but do you keep the mask on during the date? If so, how do you eat? Determined to figure out what people thought, I turned to social media. In an Instagram poll, I found 36 users voted for wearing a mask, while 15 said they would opt-out of this decision. Here is what 13 respondents and friends had to say.
1. "It's just respectful! You don't know who the other person may be working/living with."
As someone whose mother in immunocompromised I completely understand this response. My mother has already been on a ventilator twice in her life. If I go out and then become responsible for her going on a ventilator again, I don't think I could live with myself. In situations like this, I have to put both her health and my own before my social life.
2. "I'd rather not go over having to wear a mask... those are my thoughts."
Here is the full response:
"That would be so awkward to go on a date with someone you are trying to get to know with a mask on. Like you can't see half their face. I'd rather not go over having to wear a mask... those are my thoughts."
Guess what, this is a completely valid response. Part of what makes FaceTime great is the ability to see their face. A mask prevents that possibility. It is hard to tell if the person is smiling, plus it is kind of hard to hear what the person is actually saying.
3. "It proves you care about them."
On the other hand, one friend said masks make eye contact easier since that's all you can see. He does have a point, plus he made it clear to point out if you do care about someone, you wouldn't want to risk transferring the virus and them getting sick.
4. "I've got to see how someone smiles. It says a lot. I couldn't just have half of a facial reaction."
As a journalist and overall curious person, I find it interesting to hear how people look for a partner. Is it in the eyes or smile? While one friend said it makes eye contact easier, another friend said it is the smile that makes it. As someone who looks at the whole package, I can understand where both of these people are coming from.
5. "If I were on a dinner date I'd wear one and take it off during dinner."
I find this the perfect solution. You can wear a mask while walking around a city, and since a majority of restaurants offer large outdoor dining areas where is it easier to breathe fresh air, you can take the mask off to eat.
6. "I went on a date and only wore one when necessary. We sat down and took them off."
Just like with everything, I think it is important to consider the situation. Are you in an open space or are you at a crowded bar? Dating during a pandemic requires all of us to make intelligent and safe decisions. That includes where you choose to wear a mask. It also requires people to be conscientious about who they choose to sleep with. It would be naive and honestly kind of stupid to think it is OK to have a casual hookup with someone. And yes, a recent Harvard study even suggested wearing a mask during sex.
7. "I think masks make sense at the grocery store, but even in restaurants you need one to get a table and that's it. It really doesn't make sense."
This friend shared she went on two dates with two different people over the past few months. While she told me she wasn't necessarily worried because of personal safety precautions, she did say she would wait to see a person if their health was potentially compromised. She also said this:
"I'll wear one out in crowded public areas, but even then you are still socializing with people without them."
8. "It would be ignorant not to wear a mask."
Here is my friend's full response:
"If you're going on a first date during COVID it would be ignorant not to wear a mask. Not only for your own personal safety but also for the other person's. Not to mention, you're probably out in public where masks are required anyway."
9. "That would show you care about others and not just yourself, plus it's just the right thing to do right now."
One friend shared with the rising cases, especially here in Florida where we both live, it is just the right thing to do. The Mayo Clinic released a statement in May that said masks do, in fact, limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus. My friend put it in the simplest terms,
"Masks have been proven to limit the spread of the virus, so why wouldn't you wear one?"
10. "To be honest, I don't think I would. How can you speak with a mask?"
This is an incredibly fair question to ask. One that many people are probably wondering about. When I'm at the grocery store, I have to practically yell "Thank you" to the cashier for them to hear me. I wouldn't want someone yelling at me during an entire date. My friend also said if it was the beach she wouldn't but out in public, then yes. Again, this goes back to people being smart and assessing the time and place.
11. "You can't even see what they look like! What if they have ugly teeth or no lips?"
While I think "no lips" may be a bit of a stretch, my friend brings up a valid point. People are always saying they find a smile attractive. Well, masks completely hide said smile. Although it may be shallow to consider this, it is well established that people are first drawn to one other based on physical appearance and attractiveness. A mask kind of makes it harder to figure out what a person looks like. This may be a vapid and superficial argument, but it's true.
12. "While I don't want to, I'm still going to."
I think this speaks volumes. My friend told me that while she isn't thrilled about the idea, she is going to protect herself and her family, and to do that means wearing a mask.
"Is a blue mask the most stylish accessory, no way! But I'm going to suck it up and deal with it. It is stupid to complain about wearing a mask when things can be so much worse."
13. "If you don't know the person, you don't know who they've been in contact with. It may be inconvenient, but it's not worth the risk of getting sick."
I think this friend summed it up perfectly. While your date may not be sick, you do not know if they've been in contact with a possible carrier. We can all acknowledge wearing a mask is really awkward and isn't something any of us would choose to do under different circumstances. But guess what, this is the world we are living in and we are going to have to start adapting to new policies. Policies that include wearing masks in public places regardless of whether we want to or not.
It is a good thing "Grey's Anatomy" is on Netflix and Hulu because we can all learn a thing or two about flirting with just our eyes from all the doctors on that show.
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