Sooner rather than later, you may have to decide whether the person you’ve been talking to online will be worth meeting in person. While states are beginning to reopen after getting their coronavirus cases under control, even going on a socially distant date can feel a bit risky. Besides, just because you connected with someone online, it doesn’t always mean that you’ll click in person. And no one really wants to risk their health for a bad date. So, what can you do to determine who you should or shouldn’t go out with post-quarantine? According to experts, asking your date the right questions before you meet up can help you figure out if the person you’re talking to is worth the risk.
“Clinically speaking, I hope people will become more thoughtful and discerning about date choices during and after quarantine,” psychotherapist Brittany Bouffard, LCSW, tells Bustle. “I hear from so many clients about dating woes that often would be helped by being more choosy from the start. Quarantine is the perfect excuse to screen someone with a phone or video call before you spend time and energy on a date.”
Trust your gut, and do what feels right. Since we’re still amid a pandemic, take caution and have an open and honest conversation with your potential date. “This is a time to set your standards high, and date from a place of self-love,” relationship coach Tia Evagelou tells Bustle, “This isn’t a time to people please or settle. Allow yourself to be picky and focus on quality, not quantity.”
If you feel a connection with someone and you’re ready to go out, but you still have some concerns, here are 15 questions you can ask before you meet up in person for the first time, according to experts.
How have you been keeping busy in quarantine?
This question can help you determine if your potential date been taking self-isolation seriously or not. “Some people are more hypersensitive about exposing themselves to others, and this qualifying question will help you determine if you’re OK with someone who’s been more casual opposed to someone who’s been more protective,” Chloé Miller, dating coach and CEO of And, Swipe Right, an online dating coaching company, tells Bustle. This question also doubles as a getting-to-know-you inquiry. You can find out what they do for fun when they have a lot of time on their hands.
On a scale of one to 10, how comfortable are you with meeting in person?
Start a conversation about your individual expectations for the date. If your date says they’re at a nine, but you’re at a six, you can discuss what needs to happen on the date for you to feel safe. For example, you can say you’ll feel more comfortable if you both agree to stay six feet apart and avoid physical contact. From there, Miller says you can even discuss what type of socially distant first date would be best, like going for a walk in the park instead of sharing a table at a restaurant.
What’s the one thing you really want to do once everything reopens?
As Laurie Gerber, relationship coach, tells Bustle, “If you’re going to the trouble of getting all dressed up and (safely) commuting to a social-distancing friendly location, you want to at least know you’re vaguely interested in this person.” Gerber suggests having at least one virtual date before planning for one in person.
What’s your opinion on wearing masks?
Dating can be tricky right now because not everyone will be following the same safety standards as you. If you’re trying to plan a date with someone, it’s not a bad idea to talk about specifics like their opinion on wearing face masks in public or social distancing. “It’s basic, but important to know,” Susan Trombetti, dating expert and CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking, tells Bustle.
How do you feel about social distancing?
Some people aren’t too concerned about getting sick, or just don’t care about social distancing. If you do, it’s important for you to figure out how your potential date feels before agreeing to meet in person. It’s one thing to dislike wearing masks in public, but it’s another to ignore the guidelines completely. “My belief is if you see any evidence of lack of respect for themselves, the outside world, or any of the issues that are upon us, it’s highly likely that their respect for you or the relationship will likely be treated in the same manner,” Evagelou says. If you feel uneasy about someone not taking social distancing seriously, it’s a sign your values might not be aligned.
Have you been tested for COVID-19?
This is another question that can seem too personal, especially before a first date. But for some, it can be essential to know. “If you are immunosuppressed due to chemotherapy, live with someone who is, or are in an area hit particularly hard by the pandemic, it’s reasonable to ask if the other person has been tested,” dating coach Lee Wilson tells Bustle. If they make a big deal out of you asking, you may have to reconsider if this is someone you really want to be going out with.
Do you personally know anyone who has COVID or have you been around anyone who’s experiencing symptoms?
Ask questions that can help you decipher the literal, physical risk of going out with someone. “This question can sound personal but politely asking about someone’s exposure level, I think, is par for the course these days,” Bouffard says. “A conscientious person will want to know similar from you. If you’re worried about COVID contact, take this step to extra weed through who is respectful and who isn’t.” Questions like this may feel uncomfortable to ask, but if you’re going to be in a relationship with someone, open communication is key. You might as well start practicing that now.
What do you for work?
This is one of the most basic questions you can ask someone when you’re getting to know them. But during a pandemic, what they do for work can help you decide how close you want to get to them on a date. For instance, if they’ve been working from home for the past few months, you may feel a little safer meeting up in person or getting physically close sooner. “Regardless of where you live, you should be particular about the questions you ask pre-meeting/date,” Mallory Love, dating coach and COO of Love and Matchmaking, tells Bustle. “Be thorough and do not feel bad for wanting to be informed.”
Did you pick up any new hobbies during quarantine?
While being in quarantine is one thing nearly all of us have in common, everyone has had very different experiences. According to Annie Mayo, dating coach and matchmaker, asking open-ended questions like “Did you pick up any new hobbies?” or “What movies or shows did you get into?” can be great icebreakers. It can also give you insight into their personality and reveal whether you two have anything in common. If you have more things in common, there’s going to be a lot to talk about during your in person date.
Who did you quarantine with and what was it like?
Did they quarantine with a group of friends, family, or were they by themselves the whole time? “What you are looking to establish here is their history of contact with others,” Evagelou says. “You want to determine how responsible and mindful they’re being of the circumstances, especially if they have children and elders living with them where transfer of exposure could be at play.” This question can also open up to a fun exchange of life in quarantine stories if you happen to have any good ones to share.
What are you looking for?
It’s time to start being direct about what you want if you haven’t been doing so already. “We’re taught to talk about the ‘scary stuff’ later, which is why dating can be so exhausting even when we’re not in a pandemic,” relationship coach Jeanne Sullivan Billeci tells Bustle. But it’s important to know what they want early on so you’re not wasting your time or risking your health on someone who really isn’t looking for the same thing you are. Always be honest with yourself. If you know you want a relationship and they have a go with the flow, see where it goes attitude, maybe you should hold off on going out in person.
What’s your opinion on the Black Lives Matter movement?
Talking about politics or religion may have once been taboo on a first date. But as Mari Verano, a licensed marriage and family therapist who specializes in helping BIPOC and LGBTQ communities, tells Bustle, “It’s very important to ask the deeper questions about values to avoid wasting time with anyone who may not be a compatible connection.” For example, if one of your values is anti-racism, Verano suggests asking more thought-provoking questions like, “How are you challenging racist ideas in your own life?” to better assess is someone’s values align with yours. If you feel uneasy over their response, they may not be emotionally safe to go out with. When you’re being more cautious about who you’re choosing to go out with, your date’s opinions on hot topics like the Black Lives Matter movement can help you decide if you want to make the effort.
Have you started dating yet or would I be your first post-quarantine date?
Don’t be shy about asking someone if they’ve started seeing people in person. “You deserve to know this answer,” Jamie Bronstein, LCSW, a psychotherapist who specializes in relationships, tells Bustle. Listen to your gut on this one. If they hesitate with their answer or if you feel like they aren’t truthful with you, it’s probably better to hold off or not meet in person. Again, it’s up to you to decide what you’re OK with.
What would you like our first date to look like?
This question can start a conversation about your expectations on social distancing during the date. It’s important to discuss things like whether or not to hug or shake hands when you first see each other. “This conversation is incredibly valuable to help establish the comfort level of both people and offers a beautiful collaboration effort early on in order to co-create an outcome that works for both of you,” Evagelou says.
How are you feeling today?
On the day of your date, check in with them to confirm the details and to just see how they’re feeling. According to Bronstein, it’s completely OK to ask them if they’re having any COVID-19 symptoms as you need to protect yourself. “It’s empowering for you to be able to ask whatever questions you need to ask in order to feel comfortable meeting in person,” she says.
Brittany Bouffard, LCSW, psychotherapist
Jamie Bronstein, LCSW, psychotherapist
Mari Verano, licensed marriage and family therapist
Chloé Miller, relationship expert, founder and CEO of AND, SWIPE RIGHT
Susan Trombetti, matchmaker and CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking
Tia Evagelou, relationship coach
Laurie Gerber, relationship expert and Head Coach, Handel Group
Mallory Love, dating coach and COO of Love and Matchmaking
Lee Wilson, dating coach
Annie Mayo, dating coach and matchmaker with It’s Just Lunch Denver
Jeanne Sullivan Billeci, relationship coach