- During the pandemic, many couples and singles have had to find safe ways to date and see each other.
- As it gets colder, it is now time to have another honest conversation about the coronavirus, your boundaries, your priorities, and your safety with your partner.
- That can be challenging if you’ve only been seeing someone for a few weeks, or you’re in the early stages of a relationship.
- Insider spoke to an epidemiologist and relationship therapist about how to approach the hard conversation.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
As cuffing season weather sets in, and people look to couple up for the cold months, it is now time to have a hard conversation with your partner about your priorities and safety during the pandemic this winter.
It might feel like too much for people in the early stages of a relationship, when you might normally steer clear of heavy conversations, but it’s necessary.
While the summer months may have allowed for socially-distanced park dates and outdoor dining with a new person you met on Tinder, winter will make it much harder to find safe date options.
This leaves the question of how comfortable you feel taking things with your “quaran-bae” indoors, and what kinds of things you need to consider if you’re going to be mainly spending time inside, where the virus spreads more easily.
Insider spoke to an epidemiologist and relationship therapist on the best ways to discuss boundaries for in-person dating during the pandemic and how to keep yourself safe and romantically satisfied.
Normalize conversations about how they’re handling social distance and seeing other people
Dr. Sandra Kesh, an infectious disease specialist and Deputy Medical Director at WestMed, told Insider it is not enough to simply ask if your partner is getting COVID-19 tests frequently. That is not an effective way to track your risk or exposure.
If this is someone you are planning on seeing in person regularly, you should normalize conversations about social distancing habits, so it’s not a difficult subject.
Ask how many friends they’ve been seeing since you last met up, and how they feel about indoor dining. Notice if they were a mask, and how.
According to Veronica Chin Hing-Michaluk, a New York City-based relationship therapist, writing down your boundaries about social distancing and navigating the pandemic before talking to your partner can be helpful in having an honest conversation.
“Approach potential dates with radical honesty and judgment-free interest in their safety practices,” Chin Hing-Michaluk told Insider.
If they don’t respect your boundaries, your values probably aren’t aligned
Sometimes people may forget what your boundaries are, even if you’ve already explained them.
Chin Hing-Michaluk said it’s important you’re honest in the moment. But if they don’t respond well to your honesty, that’s a red flag.
“Always lead with radical honesty,” Chin Hing-Michaluk said. “If you’ve vetted your partner so their values align with yours, you’ll have a foundation to share what feels comfortable for you both. COVID-19 is calling for a new type of intentionality with dating because of the inherent risks associated with exposure.”
Ask them about their plans for socializing in the fall
Maybe you came up with some boundaries and an understanding during summer, but it’s time to re-address that in the fall.
If your partner has been seeing a group of friends safely outdoors during quarantine, ask them how they plan on keeping in touch when it gets colder.
“I would ask like what their social circle is like, if they are hanging out with people who are hanging out with a lot of other people and engaging in like higher risk activities like partying or getting together with people and people aren’t wearing masks,” Kesh said.
Gathering indoors with no masks can be especially dangerous as the coronavirus can spread more easily indoors, so clearly understanding your partner’s plans and communicating yours is crucial.
Don’t be afraid to end things if your practices are incompatible
Sometimes, your views on coronavirus safety might just be incomparable, even if you really like a person. If you and your partner can’t seem to find a middle ground that makes everyone feel safe going into the fall, it might be time to call it quits.
Chin Hing-Michaluk said that’s OK sometimes.
“Give yourself enough time to really get a sense of how your date is navigating their world and assess whether you’d like a place within it. Trust your intuition to help you set a healthy framework for human connection,” Chin Hing-Michaluk said. “If you’re made to feel bad about how you’re living or making decisions during COVID-19, it’s okay to swipe left.”
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