If you choose to mask up — and health experts say you should — expect some mixed signals, or no signals at all. Katie Kirby, 35, a delivery person for DoorDash in Pittsburgh, said face coverings also act as a dating filter; she doesn’t want to be out with anybody who won’t wear one.
But masks increase her anxiety. “I rely on facial expressions so when things are impeded it makes it harder for me to gauge things,” Ms. Kirby said. “And besides worrying that somebody might not be the best person, you’re also worried about a virus.”
Let’s get physical?
For most daters, the biggest question isn’t, “Do you ask before getting physical?” but, “When do you ask?” Inquiring before you’ve met up in person can sound forward, but, according to couples who have already gone on a number of video dates, it’s essential.
“You don’t spend this much time on the phone with someone you don’t want to be physical with,” said Ike Diaz, 39, a video producer in Los Angeles. Mr. Diaz met a marketing manager named Esprit on The League, an app that vets its users based on criteria like where they went to school, for example; they video-dated for more than two months before each got Covid-19 tests so they could meet up for a picnic in late May. Before the date, she asked: “If we were to see each other, would it be an option for us to give each other a kiss?” (Mr. Diaz said that the attraction between the two was “palpable,” but that he had resolved to wait for a signal from her that she was comfortable.)
“I liked that she framed it as a hypothetical, so it wasn’t aggressive,” he said. And, yes, they kissed — and are still together.
If you’re not used to being direct, Rae McDaniel, a certified sex therapist in Chicago, advises calling out any scared feelings. “Saying, ‘I want to ask you something, but I’m nervous you’ll think/do/feel… ’ can turn down the volume on fear quite a bit by naming it instead of trying to ignore it,” said Mx. McDaniel, who uses they/them pronouns. They also suggested following a conversation formula they said has long been used by educators for communicating desires and boundaries about safer sex: Share the risks you’ve taken, then ask about the other person’s risk level and interest in getting closer.
You should also expect to discuss your private life with roommates, even if — and maybe especially if — those are your parents. Jessie Sholl, 51, a writer, left Brooklyn in March to live with her father and stepmother in Minneapolis. After self-quarantining for several weeks, Ms. Sholl wanted to go on an in-person date with a man she’d hooked up with over Christmas and had been Facetiming since she’d been back in town. “I had to tell them he wasn’t some guy I just met — that we had spent the night together,” she said. For the couple’s first in-person date, a socially distanced walk in April, Ms. Sholl’s father and stepmother stood in the doorway waving.