Physical Distancing Won’t Stop Us From Building Strong Romantic Relationships
A global pandemic forced most of us to shelter in place and socially distance for the last four months, but the romantics of the world haven’t given up. We were forced to invent new ways to date and hook up. We swapped after-work drinks for social distancing walks. Phone sex leveled up to Zoom sex. We traded dinner and a movie for Uber Eats and Animal Crossing. Even Netflix and chill takes on a new definition with apps like Netflix Party, that lets you chat while watching shows and movies.
In a time where the risk of a random hook-up includes the possibility of catching COVID, we couldn’t help but wonder… (to be read in your best Carrie Bradshaw voice) Is this the end of casual dating? Did we singles miss the boat on finding a partner for the end of the world?
Instead of seeing this unique time in history as a wet blanket for our romantic lives, let’s focus on the positives. Quarantine changed the whole game for intimacy, but if a relationship can survive this, it can survive anything, right?
To make quarantine dating easier, we put together a list of suggestions to turn up the heat on intimacy:
- Let your guard down. We now have the luxury of arriving at a date in our pajamas, basking in the best selfie lighting in the comfort of our own homes. Let that comfort guide your romantic conversations. IRL dates put the onus on physical attraction, but starting a new relationship virtually allows you to focus on the intellectual and emotional connection you and bae can build together. Do you share the same values? Do you want the same things out of life? What’s their favorite post-coital snack? Lean in and open up. Share a few intimate things you normally couldn’t mention at a crowded restaurant.
Pick a digital location to make room for small talk. Back in the days that we could go to museums, parties or bars, it was easy to strike small talk over artwork, the drunk guy with the green pants, or the ridiculous price of the cocktails. A digital interaction could get awkward if there aren’t enough things to talk about. Nip that in the bud by going on virtual tours of world landmarks or watching the Jellyfish Cam at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. “We went to the Taj Mahal and saw thirteen different kinds of jellies on our first date” would be an incredible first date report!
- Ask the heavy questions. Get silly with the format. Take turns answering an OkCupid questionnaire while you’re FaceTiming, or take the app with you on your social distance rendezvous. Give them a tour of your apartment while doing your best MTV Cribs impression. Play virtual Pictionary with each other, and narrate with your best Pimp My Ride Xibit impression. Get to know each other’s youthful side by watching cartoons and sharing memories on Netflix Party. Conversations can get intimate quickly because of the intensity of our collective circumstances, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun with it.
- Take a breather if conversations get too heavy. Emotional intimacy can make us feel closer to one another when we can’t use our physical senses. It’s natural to step back from a call and realize that you might have taken a relationship to new heights without meaning to. Ask your partner for a breather any time you need to. Set clear boundaries for how little or how often you’d like to talk to them.
- Bring props to the Zoom sex party. Yup, you read that right! Get creative with the virtual backgrounds. Wear costumes. Bring all your sex toys and let your partner choose which one they want you to use while they watch. Sling other swingers the Zoom meeting info if you’re into group play. Invite your partner into your solo time. Gather all your candles and treat them to a strip tease. Let your sexual fantasies run wild.
- Date yourself instead. If you find yourself restless and consumed by the thought of finding a romantic partner during quarantine, it probably means that you have a hard time being alone. It’s totally normal! Try taking time alone to pamper yourself. Remind yourself of what you have to offer your future romantic interest(s). Cook yourself a delicious meal. Pour yourself a glass of wine. Light some candles — you deserve a candlelit dinner date all by yourself! End the night by wrapping your arms around your body and reciting loving affirmations before going to sleep. Build up that self-love reserve to strengthen a future relationship.
Writer: Leo Aquino (they/them) is a storyteller living in Los Angeles. They love reading books on the beach and eating Filipino food.