Going for a walk in the park is people’s preferred social distanced date
Now lockdown measures are easing and the recommended distance to keep may be dropped from two metres to one metre plus (whatever that means), are you ready to overcome your FOMU and take your dates from Zoom chats to IRL meetups?
Once you decide to meet in real life, what should you do? Can dating be done without the usual settings of dimly lit bars and sticky-floored cinemas?
And what if you don’t fancy limiting your options by deciding early on that your chosen date should enter your social bubble?
The obvious answer is a socially distanced date – one done outside, with a minimum of one metre keeping you apart.
If you need further inspiration, worry not, as OkCupid surveyed their users to find out what socially distanced dates they most desire, so you can take your pick from the popular options.
Topping the list is the simplest option: 57% said they would prefer to go on an outdoor stroll with their date.
Not only is that easy to organise – just plan a route or pick a park and walk its perimeter – but it’s free, low pressure, and gives you the chance to chat without having to worry about finding an adequately distanced spot to set up.
Next up is on the best possible dates list is the classic picnic, with 22% of those surveyed saying they’d choose a picnic as their ideal lockdown date.
Again, this has the benefit of being outdoors and laidback enough to let you just sit and chat. Just make sure you chat beforehand to ensure all essential snacks are brought and there’s no doubling up on any items – having two bottles of Prosecco with nothing to eat may sound fun, but it’s tricky to get to know someone when you’re bleary-eyed and distracted by the rumblings of each other’s stomachs.
Oh, and don’t forget to pack a picnic blanket that’s large enough to let you sit a metre or more apart.
If you prefer an activity-focused date, going for something creative will mean you’re on to a winner, with shared creative endeavours such as painting the preferred date choice for 17% of those surveyed.
Exercise is a riskier option, with just 5% choosing this as their preferred socially distanced date.
We’d advise checking that your date buddy actually wants to get hot and sweaty before you start mapping out running routes.
We chatted to Michael Kaye, a dating expert at OkCupid, for his advice on trying socially distanced dating, and he said it’s all about relaxing, laughing, and embracing the strangeness of this whole finding-love-in-a-pandemic thing.
‘We know that over 82% of OkCupid respondents want to get back to in-person dates after the lockdown eases, but it’s important to follow social distancing guidelines, while they’re still in place,’ says Michael. ‘Socially distant dating might feel a little awkward to start with, but it’s no different a feeling to many first dates!
‘It’s all about having fun while remaining respectful of government advice.
‘It may be hard to think of ways you and your date can connect, without physically touching. But for those who are single and dating, or even those in relationships, there’s still plenty of socially distanced, al fresco dates you can go on! A popular option is having a picnic in a park or, if you’re fortunate to live by the coast, a stroll along the beach, especially now during the summer.
‘How about a walk or bike ride to explore an area of town or nature spot you’ve not been to before? And for those daters who are into their fitness, why not opt for going on a run together? It’ll get you both out of the house, and might help you blow off some steam from work!’
And remember, not being able to touch isn’t a terrible thing – it might save you from rushing into things.
Take some time to appreciate the old-fashioned enjoyment of courting without getting physically intimate, even if this is borne out of fear of spreading coronavirus rather than anything more romantic.
‘It’s important to remember that intimacy isn’t just a physical thing – it’s not only touch that can create deep and meaningful connections,’ says Michael. ‘Spending a bit of face to face, one on one time with your date will help you get to know one another better and build your relationship.
‘And, the social distancing restrictions will only make things even more exciting for when regulations ease further!’