How to date during a pandemic (According to a Dating Coach!)

By: Peter Nguyen

1/3 rd of my private clients hire me to revamp their style for their dating lives. 

I shouldn’t need to explain how dating has been extra challenging for all single guys out there this year. But with people being smarter with testing and social distancing, along with restaurants and bars reopening, I’ve found my guys are ready to get back out there.

And I’m sure you are too. 

But dating during the pandemic is a little bit out of my area of expertise, so I decided to get some help.

Enter Blaine, a dating coach and founder of “What would Clooney Do?” Blaine shows men how to attract women without sleazy pick-up tricks or dating app hacks. 

I recently chatted with her on Zoom to talk about dating during a pandemic.

Enjoy our convo!

Btw, Blaine was kind enough to put together a little “Dating Profile Makeover” cheatsheet for Essential Man readers.

Enter your info below to get the free bonus!

    [PETER] Blaine! Ok, tell me, what’s dating like right now during the pandemic?

    [BLAINE] Interestingly, because of the pandemic, more people are dating today than before.

    Several guys I coach had told me that before COVID-19, they’d punted on dating. They weren’t devoting attention to meeting women, either because the timing wasn’t right, or they didn’t think being in a relationship mattered that much to them.

    Then the lockdowns happened. These guys started realizing how lonely single life can be and decided they had to make a change. 

    And It’s not just guys. I don’t coach women, but many of my girlfriends have had similar epiphanies and are dating more active today than before Coronavirus.

    Masked woman using a dating app

    Would it be fair to say with social distancing, most dating is happening online?

    In short, yes, dating’s largely moved online in 2020. 

    Dating apps like Tinder, Raya, and OkCupid have blown up. Perhaps the easiest way to measure the change that is Match Group (which owns Tinder, Hinge, Match.com, and a variety of other dating apps) stock is up ~2x since the pandemic started! 

    This reflects how there are ~2x as many people dating online today than a year ago.

    Wild. What’s your favorite dating app to recommend to your clients?

    Hinge. 

    I like Hinge because it nails the sweet spot between “I’m not looking for anything serious” (Tinder turf) and “seeking soulmate ASAP” (think hiring a pro matchmaker).

    Hinge requires users to upload 6 photos and write 3 profile “prompts,” which is great because it both:

    • Filters out anyone unwilling to invest 20 minutes to create a profile
    • It helps you avoid the “I have no idea what to write in my bio” syndrome! The prompts are a great template for illustrating who you are

    Also, their tagline is “the dating app designed to be deleted,” which many people can relate to. Everyone’s dating online, but no one likes dating online. They get it and are focused on creating an experience that makes online dating as painless as possible.

    Man using instagram on his iphone
    Blaine’s other favorite dating app? Instagram!

    Any others?

    My personal favorite “dating app” is Instagram. 

    All of the functionality of a true dating app is there: photos, bio, and a big pool of singles (hint: look at your crush’s recent photos for a significant other). And it can enable more organic connections than dating apps because there’s a lot more content flexibility and storage. Plus, the trust factor can be higher because you can see shared interests.

    Instagram, I love it! What about offline dating? Are people still connecting in-person?

    Meeting someone new in-person is harder now than it was pre-pandemic, but it’s absolutely possible, and people are doing it.

    The #1 hurdle is the mask.

    Don’t get me wrong — I’m 100% supportive of masks & social distancing for public health reasons — but masks aren’t exactly conducive to romance. No one feels sexy trapped behind a face covering. And facial expressions are often more important to communication than words themselves, so it’s hard to have a good conversation with a mask on too.

    With that in mind, I’m still enthusiastic about meeting romantic prospects in real life vs. online, where it’s safe and appropriate.

    You can form a stronger connection with someone in 30 seconds in-person than you can in 3 hours online. So I encourage my clients to get outside in particular.

    Talk to me more about safety & norms of dating right now. I’ve heard of people swapping negative COVID tests (or antibody tests) before meeting up in New York, for example. Is that a requirement?

    It’s a great question. From what I’ve observed, norms are both geography-specific and person-specific.

    For example, I’ve seen tons of Tinder profiles in NYC reference COVID & antibody tests, vs. none in seemingly similar locations like San Francisco and Los Angeles.

    I suspect this difference is related to how hard NYC got hit by the pandemic early on. New Yorkers still have scar tissue that folks in other parts of the country don’t, and it makes sense they want to be careful.

    Stepping back, everyone has their own comfort level right now. For example, I know women who don’t care whether you have a negative test and have been quarantining — they want >6’ of distance when you meet up. 

    Likewise, I know several couples that had physical connections on first dates recently without giving any thought to COVID test results.

    The most important thing is respecting your date’s safety preferences. Don’t assume he or she shares your cavalier (or conservative) attitude toward Coronavirus. Look for signals, or better yet, ask.

    And bring a mask & hand sanitizer whenever you meet a date in-person. Even if you both decide you’re comfortable together without them, you should have these handy if you decide to grab food or drinks because you’ll be around other people.

    Couple taking a walk while wearing masks

    Any other pandemic dating advice? Or dating advice generally?

    Walks make great first dates. I’ve advocated for walking dates since long before Coronvirus, but now the advantages are even clearer:

    • Easy to follow health & safety best practices (you’re probably going to walk outdoors, and it’s easy to stay 6’ apart)
    • Low commitment & risk (a walking date doesn’t have to take longer than 30 minutes if you don’t want it to)
    • Convenient (you can propose a starting point in your date’s part of town, but protip: skip the awkward explanation about how you studied their location, and simply suggest meeting wherever you picked out)
    • Opportunity to sneak in some steps (WFH is painfully immobilizing, and who doesn’t want to burn some extra calories?)

    Walking dates are easy to say yes to 🙂 and they don’t preclude drinks or dinner afterward if the walk goes well.

    Thanks Blaine!

    Thank you Peter!

    Get Blaine’s “Dating Profile Makeover” bonus for Essential Man Readers!

    With online dating being bigger this year, I asked Blaine for some tips on upgrading your dating profile. She was kind enough to put together a little “Dating Profile Makeover” cheatsheet for Essential Man readers! 

    If you want to makeover your profile and start getting higher quality matches overnight, enter your info below. It’s completely free!

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