Two years into the pandemic, people have learned that they don’t need to give up on dating.
While some dating has shifted to the online world to accommodate social distancing restrictions — at least in the getting-to-know-you phase — COVID-19 shouldn’t prevent you from having in-person dates that you’d actually call fun.
To do that, you'll have to step away from the boring Zoom meetings that mimic a job interview and plan an innovative — and safe — event.
Kat Harris, a relationship coach and dating expert in Austin, says people put too much pressure on first dates, working through a mental checklist in their heads of all the criteria their date does or doesn't meet.
"Getting to know someone takes time,” she says. “Give a person three dates.”
Harris encourages her dating clients to approach these initial experiences with the right attitude. Keep in mind:
- First dates are like stepping off a curb, not a cliff. It's just two people spending time together.
- Remove the pressure to come up with an epic first date that seems like it's straight from the set of The Bachelor.
- Spend just an hour with your date. Your main goal is to decide if you want to see the person again.
- Don't try to assess whether the person is “the one” right away.
Even during the pandemic, there are socially distanced ways to try something new together. Having something to do, rather than just talking, can reveal whether there's a true connection. Try one of these outside-the-box date ideas to ensure you both have a great time while getting to know each other.
1. An escape room
Escape room activities are available virtually and in person. If done in person, they provide a safer pandemic option because you share the room only with the people in your party.
This activity involves solving puzzles and finding clues to “escape” a themed room. Harris recommends escape rooms to her clients because they are a bit risky. “You are going to be in a more stressful situation. You really have a shared experience where you are working together, doing something fun that requires teamwork and creating space for a conversation after the experience,” she says.
To find a virtual or in-person escape room, enter your location into the escape room finder.
2. Outdoor activities
Sharing an outdoor activity is one of the best ways to get to know someone on a first date. Try pickleball, Ultimate Frisbee, a hike through the woods or a walk along a scenic path.
If you are looking for more than just a person's life story, move your first date to the tennis court. This socially distanced sport can even be enjoyable for amateurs who have never picked up a racket. Lauren Rosenberg, 51, of Scottsdale, Arizona prefers playing tennis on first dates. “It's active, fun and a great way to learn about a man's competitive nature,” she says.