Dating Etiquette During a Pandemic: To Kiss or Not To Kiss

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Buckle up, y’all. I’m in Texas, and in the midst of receiving dozens of “what the hell is happening in Texas” texts from friends and family, I’ve been asked about dating etiquette during the pandemic.

Again, I’m in Texas. On July 4, the Lone Star State reported over 8,000 new coronavirus cases. Everything is shutting down again because we opened too early. My situation may look different than yours. My dating situation is different, because I’m in a monogamous relationship. My partner and I have been seeing each other throughout the pandemic, but only because I have no roommates and she has one. I’m fortunate. If I want to go on a date, I can just roll out the projector in my partner’s house and get pizza delivered.

But what if I was single in Texas?

Well, I would hope, pray and largely assume that I would be putting dates on hold. At least, in-person, indoor dates. (If I’m not meeting my friends at our favorite bars right now, why would I meet someone who I’ve never met?) Unfortunately, these limitations severely lower my chances of enjoying a sweet lil’ goodbye kiss with this person.

Unfortunately, we are in the midst of a global pandemic.

Unfortunately, it is not safe to go to the grocery store without a mask.

Unfortunately, over 36.5 million people have lost their jobs due to this virus.

Unfortunately, 129 million people have died due to this virus.

Not being able to flap tongues with someone who you’re going to ghost in three days is oh so sad. But so is pretty much everything that is happening in the world right now. If holding off on kissing is the one thing that you do to prevent your date, their roommates and their coworkers from getting COVID, you’ll survive. And your date will survive. Their roommates will survive.

A Quick Overview

I’m assuming that, because you have the Internet, you know what’s going on with the coronavirus. If you need a quick refresher on why kissing is a big, stupid no-no, let me remind you.

COVID-19 is a virus. It needs a human host. It won’t go away until it can stop jumping onto other humans.

And how is COVID-19 jumping onto other humans?

Typically, COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets that pop out of your mouth when you spit, cough, sneeze or talk. I would like to assume that you’re not spitting on your date after only knowing them through a few Hinge messages. But I would also like to assume that you’re talking to them and not staring through their soul waiting for a promise ring.

I don’t need to be telling you this, but when you kiss your date, you’re literally just depositing respiratory droplets into their mouth like a mother bird with chewed-up food. If you or your date happen to have the virus, guess what? You’re spreading the virus. (I would like to remind you that a whole lot of people who are spreading the virus are asymptomatic.)

There are ways to enjoy a date while being socially distant and generally safe, but kissing is certainly not one of them.

Don’t Make This The Date You Regret The Most

COVID-19 is serious. This is not the time to bend the rules. You’re putting yourself, your date, your roommates, and everyone around you at risk by neglecting the seriousness of the virus. If you’re not being regularly tested, you could be spreading the virus without knowing it.

I’m not going to tell you that you’re an idiot for going out and putting respiratory droplets right into another person’s mouth during a global pandemic. But if you find yourself coughing a few days later, or you get a text from your date telling you that they’re in the hospital with COVID, you’re going to feel like an idiot.

Harsh, Much?

It’s not fun for me, a woman who is “doing the kissing,” to tell anyone that they can’t enjoy a slap of the uvula. But I know how we’re all talking to each other about safety precautions. I know that my friends and your friends are making exceptions for each other. I might tell someone that I’m going to an indoor climbing gym and watch their facial expression change while they respond, “Oh, I’m sure that’s safe.”

Is it though? Or are we just failing to have tough conversations with our friends because this is a new landscape to trudge through and everyone is experiencing high levels of stress, loneliness and doubt? If your friends are silently wincing as you tell them about your dates at bars around the city, I can guarantee you they’re rolling their eyes once you finish your Zoom call. I know how hard it is to judge someone’s actions during this time. But if no one’s telling you to keep your spit in your mouth until there is a vaccine and hundreds of people stop dying every day, I will.

Keep your spit in your mouth.

(To clarify, I’ve stopped going to the climbing gym as the numbers of COVID cases in Texas have spiked.)

The Positives (I’m Not Talking About Test Results)

That was my last stern finger-wag of this post. There is some good news, or a good spin that you can put on this situation. If you’re looking for a partner, this is the ultimate test of boundaries and empathy.

I hope that you also agree that swapping respiratory droplets puts you at risk of spreading or contracting COVID-19. You have a choice of resisting your date’s tongue in your mouth or ignoring the 129,000 deaths throughout the country. Your date has that choice as well.

If you do want to go on a date during this pandemic, use this as a time to practice expectation- and boundary-setting. Before you meet up with your date, let them know what you’re comfortable with. Do you feel comfortable hiking with each other? Sharing a pizza? Kissing? Meeting up with friends afterward? Share your thoughts!

If you and your date don’t see eye to eye on how to keep yourselves safe during this pandemic (or whether it’s important to stay safe at all), you have a sign of things to come. If you and your date cannot have an open conversation on your limits and expectations, you have a sign of things to come.

In the end, you have a choice to make about how you want to conduct yourself during this pandemic. Are you going to go on a date with someone that respects your choices? You’ll soon find out.

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