After being single for years, at 31 I finally got up the courage to try online dating, and four months later, COVID-19 arrived. I had started seeing someone in early February. It was going really well but didn’t last because of the pressures of COVID. I recently started talking to someone I met months ago, and we met at an outdoor restaurant. I get the sense he is dating other people.
Is it reasonable to ask for exclusivity earlier than usual given the pandemic? I am open to “outdoor dating” with someone, but if they are seeing multiple people I worry about exposure to the virus. I don’t know if asking for exclusivity so early is unreasonable or controlling, or how to have these complicated conversations. Help.
– A nervous COVID-era dater
A. This isn’t about romantic exclusivity. You simply want to find out more about this man’s COVID-19 social boundaries and decide whether they match yours.
We’re all doing this with friends too, right? We’ve stopped seeing some friends because we don’t want to put them at risk, even during an outdoor walk. Or maybe we believe they put us at risk because they’re out in the world more than we are.
You can ask this man about his COVID rules and how he engages with the people around him. This has little to do with who else he’s dating. You’ll also want to know how he sees friends and family, how many people are in his bubble, and what concerns he might have about your routines. Who gets close to his face without a mask on? That kind of question doesn’t seem nosy right now.
My point is you can have this conversation without framing it as having to do with exclusivity. You can acknowledge the awkwardness of this, that a conversation about health sounds like a request for commitment even when it isn’t.
If your rules don’t match his at all, move on. Dating during a pandemic involves communication and trust. If you’re not feeling that—or you have very different goals for interaction—there are others looking to date one person at a time.
No, no, a thousand times no. Any reasonable human would bolt. You can easily discern his fear level and COVID protocols with casual discussions about activities, friendships, etc. SEENITTOO
Asking someone about how safe they’re being in a pandemic is not unreasonable. Whether it’s his social, work, or home life, all affect you, and your interactions affect him. Ask. WIZEN
If you get the feeling he is dating others, you should just ask him this directly. This is OK, pandemic or no pandemic. You should admit that you want exclusivity from this guy (and any other guy you date). It’s not a bad thing. HIKERSKIERGIRL
If you’re this worried about COVID, you should probably hold off on dating. Anyone can say, “Oh yes, I’m not dating anyone else.” You don’t know these people well enough to trust them. SUNNYSAN
Catch Season 4 of Meredith Goldstein’s Love Letters podcast at loveletters.show or wherever you listen.