- The dating scene is still alive and well during the coronavirus pandemic.
- If you want to go on an in-person date, you should first ask them certain questions about their habits and whereabouts to make sure they're on the same wavelength as you with safety measures.
- Before questioning your prospective date, it's important to consider whether you're carefree or careful when it comes to the pandemic, and then ask your date questions that align with your needs.
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
Despite the pandemic, dating hasn't stopped.
Hinge, a popular dating app, reported a 17% increase in dates both in-person or through video chat from August 2019 to August 2020.
But with COVID-19 cases and deaths rising again across the US, it's more important than ever to gauge the safety of meeting your dating app match in person.
According to William Schaffner, and infectious disease expert and professor at Vanderbilt University, the first step is understanding your own safety needs. Then, you have to be honest about those needs.
"People have to be prepared to have these conversations just as people have to be prepared to have conversations before they have sex," Schaffner told Insider.
He said you should ask yourself, "Am I a careful person, or a carefree person?" in regards to coronavirus pandemic safety measures, and use your personal answer to guide which questions you pose to your dating-app match pre-meetup.
Here are other questions Schaffner suggested asking your date, depending on the risks you're willing to take.
Are you a careful person or carefree when it comes to the pandemic?
After you've answered this question for yourself, Schaffner said it's fair to ask your dating app match the same.
He said this prompt can open the door for more specific questioning about mask-wearing and social distancing without bringing judgment into the equation.
If, for example, your match said they're a carefree type, but you prefer to be careful, it's probably best to end to conversation here.
But if you feel like a compromise could work, more detailed questions can help because "you'd like to be on the same wavelength when you get together," if you choose to, Schaffner said.
Do you wear a mask when you're out?
Since different people might define "careful" and "carefree" differently, Schaffner said asking more pointed questions like this one can help you better understand a prospective date's viewpoint.
If you're someone who is staunchly for masking-wearing, which has been proven to prevent the spread of infected particles when done with other safety measures, this question can weed out potential dates who might make you feel unsafe.
How aware are you of social distancing?
Similar to mask-wearing, social distancing has been shown to prevent coronavirus spread and is a fair question to ask your date about.
When you ask this, narrow into specific behaviors, like how often your potential date has been hugging loved ones, dining indoors, traveling in a packed bus or train, or having extended conversations with others.
Since "social distancing" is such a vague term, pinpointing specific behaviors that might make you feel uncomfortable will help you make a choice about whether or not to meet in person.
Have you been tested for COVID-19 for any reason?
Once you get through more "preliminary" questions, as Schaffner calls them, about basic safety measures, you might decide you need even more information to quell your anxiety, and that's OK.
Though COVID-19 tests aren't foolproof, this question may help you gauge how careful your prospective date has or hasn't been.
"Testing isn't perfect, but everything we do provides some degree of protection. And if people were very careful and wanted to do that, it really would show mutual respect," Schaffner said.
Basically, if a COVID-19 test pre-date is something you need to feel safe but your dating app match refuses, it's best to move on to the next match.
Prompting your potential date to get a test could give you insight into how they view testing and living in a pandemic-ridden world.
They may say they get tested weekly because they're constantly attending large gatherings, which has not been proven to stop the spread of the coronavirus. On the other hand, your match might say they got a test one time after travelling to visit family in another state.
Have you been near anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19?
If you err towards the careful side, this question can also put you at ease pre-date.
Anecdotal reports, like of a Maine wedding that ended up a "super-spreader" event, are proof that just one infected person can start a chain reaction and lead to an outbreak.
If your potential date answers "yes" to this one, you could pass on the date altogether, or ask to reschedule following your match's self-quarantine period and a COVID-19 test.
This question can also get at whether your date is taking precautions to keep others they care about safe, which could help you decide further if they align with your values.
Do you take public transportation or go into an office for work?
According to Schaffner, these types of questions are reserved for the most careful of people.
Sharing a vehicle with an infected person isn't as risky as other activities (though it still comes with a higher-than-generally-believed risk), like sharing a meal or having a long conversation with a person who has COVID-19, so you'll want to decide how risk-averse you are before asking these more granular questions. Of course, all of these activities come with some degree of risk.
If you're someone who's willing to forego dates for the right person whose safety measures align with yours, Schaffner suggested acknowledging that as you talk to your dating app match.
"If you've been at home and you say, 'You know, I'm taking my first step out into social life. This is my first time out in a long time, and I'm going to be kind of careful in the beginning. So can we have a discussion about how free and easy you've been? What's your philosophy?'" he said.
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