Have you heard? Social distancing is the thing to do right now. And, while it’s great for stopping the spread of COVID-19, the opposite can be said about your dating life. Maybe you just started to hit it off with someone new or maybe you had plans to go on a fourth date (which is monumental, by the way) when you received the news that staying in and keeping to yourself is the new vibe. Whatever the case may be, dating lives everywhere are undergoing major changes. 

If you’re anything like me, you’re probably feeling anxious, confused, and frustrated about what the future holds, especially as it pertains to your personal life. And if you’ve found yourself questioning what you should and shouldn’t be doing as it relates to dating while distancing, you’re in good company. Use this FAQ to get informed so you can make the right decisions.

1. If coronavirus makes assembling together in large groups unsafe, can I go out on a date? At least that’s one on one!

No, because even if one of you doesn’t appear to be ill, there’s a chance you’re still carrying the virus and spreading it unknowingly. Many of us want to continue as we normally would, but we have to remember that what’s happening right now isn’t normal. You will be able to return to your regularly scheduled dating eventually, but at this time, it’s important to continue social distancing. Your health and safety and the health and safety of those around you depend on it. 

2. I just started dating someone new was excited to see where it would go. How do I keep the momentum going while we’re self-isolating?

We live in a digital age, so there’s no shortage of things you can do to stay in touch while apart. Of course, texting is great, but you can get more creative. Maybe you two can join a book club, have a Netflix party, get food delivered from the same restaurant and have a FaceTime dinner date, or do partner workouts via Zoom. We won’t tell you these things are the same as sitting within arm’s distance of one another, but they can help build chemistry and keep a connection until you are able to meet IRL.

3. Is it even worth chatting with and getting to know new people during this period of isolation?

Allow me take you back to Sociology 101. Human beings are innately social. Extended periods of social isolation can lead to loneliness, which negatively affects our health. In fact, the Younger Australian Loneliness Survey, which included 870 adults ages 18-25, found that loneliness is associated with “poorer mental health, higher inflammatory responses (i.e. bodily responses to disease and injury), and poorer cardiovascular health.” Not to be dramatic, but we need social interaction to survive and thrive. Sure, you’ve got some combination of friends, family, and your pets to talk to, but this is a great time to make new connections as well.

Thanks to dating apps, Twitter, Reddit, and the like, meaningful connections can be made anytime and anywhere. You can find people who share your interests, sense of humor, and, perhaps most importantly, sleep schedule. Online connections can be just as valuable as IRL ones, which is great in a time when IRL interaction is sparse.

4. Can I invite my new boo over so we can self-quarantine together for a little?

Please don’t. “You don’t know where they’ve been, and you don’t know who they’re going home to,” says Arthur Caplan, Ph.D., director of medical ethics at NYU Langone Health. “They could be going home to a grandparent or someone whose immune system is more vulnerable than yours’ are.” And, again, one or both of you can be asymptomatic and spread the virus unconsciously. While the idea of self-quarantining together sounds great, the ramifications can be greater, especially when at least one of you goes back into the world. It’s best that the two of you keep it digital until things get better.

5. I’m talking to someone who really wants to meet up IRL, despite what’s going on. How do I tell them that I’m interested, but only once it’s safe?

You could certainly start by letting them know that they need to respect your boundaries, but what’s going on is so much bigger than you, right? “Tell them to check the local health department’s website and read what it says there,” says Caplan. “That should be enough to explain why you aren’t interested in meeting up at this moment in time.” And if they can’t come to terms with that? Then, Caplan says, “They probably aren’t someone worth meeting.”

6. I’m talking to someone and we’re really hitting it off. I can’t wait to go another month (or longer!) before meeting them IRL. What should I do?

Wanting to meet your potential new thang is completely reasonable. However, staying inside and doing your part to stop the spread of this virus is exponentially more important than going out to meet them IRL. And, on the plus side, waiting means spending more time getting to know them and building chemistry than you normally would, which will inform whether or not you really want to meet them IRL. And, if you scroll right up to question two, you can see that there are plenty of ways to keep the momentum going until social distancing is a distant memory. Until then, might I suggest getting dressed up for a FaceTime date in your living room?