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22 May

Love in the Time of COVID-19

Planning the perfect virtual date during the pandemic.

Dating during the 21st century is hard; from dating apps, to social media, ghosting, the lot, there are plenty of ways for a new-found relationship to derail before it’s even started. And that was all before 2020, when a brand-new obstacle to love revealed itself: COVID-19. Everyone’s favourite pandemic.   

With every relationship, whether you’re in the initial courting stage or you’ve been together so long you’ve forgotten what Tinder is (although can anyone forget the modern-day trauma that is swiping through Tinder?), there’s always an expectation of date night, and this pretty much always involves leaving your house. But during a national lockdown, when the pubs, restaurants, cinemas, and every other entertaining venue is closed – how exactly is date night supposed to play out?   

That’s where your favourite relationship gurus at Cohorted come in. Date night doesn’t have to involve going out anywhere; the whole point of the exercise is to spend time with a loved one and connect on a more intimate level – all of which can, and should, be achieved virtually right now. And we’ve got all the tips to help you keep that spark alive. 

First things first: you need to be okay with some alone time. “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” is an over-used saying, but there is some truth to the cliché. It’s incredibly important to be together but apart during a relationship, which essentially means just getting your own space – something a lockdown is perfect for. As dating coach Sami Wunder states: “when we write about how to keep the romance alive or how to keep date night alive, it’s very easy to assume it’s all about spending a lot of time together. But that’s actually the killer of romance”.  

Essentially, what she’s saying is, make sure you’re doing your own thing and don’t bombard each other with texts, phone calls, video chats, and game invites just because youre apart and you feel like you have to do anything to remain in contact. This will actually make your planned dates feel even more special – just as they would in the normal world.  

Theme your date night 

Netflix have introduced Netflix Party, which means you can now watch anything on Netflix at the exact same time as whoever you want and talk about it togetherNetflix and chill the COVID way – sounds perfect, right? In theory, yes, but this is going to get old quick. Instead, why not theme it? Plan a horror movie night complete with scary stories told to each other over the phone, or how about a Great British Bake Off theme, where you both bake together? The winner gets to pick the next theme.   

 

Plan a cute outfit 

You might be stuck inside, only able to connect via your laptop screen, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make an effort. Get glammed up in a cute dress, or shirt and trousers, do your make up, wash your hair – even brush your hair if you fancy it! Getting yourself pulled together will help create the romantic atmosphere you’re craving and will clearly set it apart from the rest of your day spent in loungewear with your hair in a messy bun.  

Set the mood 

You can’t have a romantic evening with Gilmore Girls playing in the background, your brother in the next room shouting at Fortnite, and your mum babbling away in the kitchen. If youre unlucky enough to be self-isolating with family – or even some annoying, clingy housemates – then make it clear you’re having a date and ask for some quiet, and privacy. Turn off your phone, create some mood lighting, mute the TV and focus your attention on your date – just like you would at a restaurant, or in a bar.  

 

Make dinner more meaningful 

 You can’t go wrong with a simple dinner date, so what do we do when we can’t go out for dinner? Bring dinner to us. Take turns choosing what to make and then laugh at each other through Facetime as you attempt to recreate your perfect dishes. Or, if you don’t feel like cooking, order surprise dishes for each other from your favourite takeaway – the perfect chance to try something new and test how well you know your other half!  

 

Enjoy each other’s company 

Sometimes, a simple conversation is all you need. Light a few candles, pour a glass of wine, and just sit and talk to each other. Chances are, the places you typically go for dates are busy, crowded, and loud, so the opportunities for meaningful conversation are few and far between. Especially when you factor in all the other daily things that get in the way. Date nights are designed to reconnect with your partner, so start talking about anything and everything: favourite colours, travel plans, past relationships, personal trauma. It can be as heavy or as light as you want it to be, but it’s a really interesting way of getting to know your partner on a deeper level.  

Alex Wright

I’m a freelance writer and digital artist working in marketing and social media. I’m an avid animal lover, protector of bees, flexi-vegan (don’t ask) and a self-proclaimed feminist queen. You’ll probably find me standing awkwardly at the bar getting a little too drunk during social events.

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