Whether you're single and trying virtual dates and video dates, or living with your partner and wanting to carve out quality time to spend together, lockdown date ideas are going to come in handy. So here are some dating expert-approved date night ideas that you can do in full lockdown, or for Valentine's Day. And, some socially-distanced date ideas to keep in mind for when restrictions start to lift.
Lockdown date ideas
"If you are in a long-distance relationship thanks to the latest lockdown, now is the time to get creative with your virtual date nights," says Match’s dating expert, Hayley Quinn. "For couples that live together and need a way to separate day from night, (when you wear PJs all day it can get confusing!) planning high quality date nights can make your time together feel more special. For quality time you need someone's undivided attention so get used to switching devices off, enjoying some lo-fi time and staying present."
Live with your partner and want a cute date night idea? Here are some fun things to do together in the house, as suggested by Robyn Exton CEO and founder of dating app HER, Hayley Quinn of Match.com and Logan Ury, director of relationship science at Hinge.
Read your sign chart or do a tarot card draw. "Nothing says queer romance like a star sign read. Download a new star sign app together (our latest favourite is Chani) and share your own reading with your date and check your compatibility. Or pick up your tarot deck (those without can download Mystic Mondays) and see what you draw when thinking about your date," Robyn says.
Podcast club:"Rather than a book club, listen to an episode of a podcast before the date and get ready to share notes. Our favourite is Bad Queers."
Head to an online event or class: "Nothing builds bonds like shared experiences. Sign up for an online class to take together like HER’s DTF or DTR - a chance to look at where your budding relationship may go."
Shaken or Stirred: Logan says, "Stir things up with a two-person mocktail/cocktail making class. Make it more of an experience by choosing a complex recipe that includes your favourite ingredients -- and let your date know what items to pick up in advance. Over video chat, show off your mixologist skills and do a virtual cheers!"
PPT Party: "What’s a topic you know more about than most people? Are you an expert on mystery novels? Did you explore every Wikipedia page about the royal family after watching The Crown? Show off your passions by creating a PowerPoint and presenting it to your date. Bring your date down the rabbit hole with you by creating a slideshow on what matters to you. The more obscure the topic -- the better."
Go for a virtual neighbourhood walk. "Flip your phone camera so it faces outward and take turns showing each other around your neighbourhoods," Logan suggests.
Show Your Cards: "Play a virtual game together. There are plenty of online versions of common board games. It’s a great way to get to know each other while keeping things lighthearted and playful."
Room Raiders: "Bring back Show & Tell. Come up with a series of prompts, like 'what’s the silliest purchase you’ve made during the pandemic?' or 'what is a piece of clothing you know you should toss but you never will?' Then take turns sharing objects from around the house. Extra credit if you give a tour of your fridge!," Logan says.
Or, as Hayley suggests, Take a fitness class. Here are some of the best online workouts.
Watch a performance. Whether theatre or drag, there are tons of amazing creative performances online at the mo.
Follow a Netflix series together. Here are the 46 top Netflix UK series.
Old school games: "These can also be rewarding so you may want to try chess, Uno, or Scrabble online."
Play 'Never have I ever'. "With a glass of wine in hand or not, a game of 'never have I ever' is always fun."
Play video games. If you have a console, of course.
Look to the future: "If instead you need something to look forward to, then try planning an experience you can share together when this is all over. This could be a freelance business project or backpacking in Mexico."
Sex bucket list: "There's also no better time to focus on developing your physical intimacy and working your way through your sexual wish list."
Socially distanced date ideas - for when lockdown restrictions lift
It's all about being creative and having fun while adhering to the current restrictions. Relationship and sex expert for Lovehoney Annabelle Knight shares some fun quarantine date ideas.
Park dates. "In parks there are lots of places you can meet in person while staying two metres apart. Parks are the new pubs and a perfect spot to spark up a new romance. Bring a blanket and even a pillow for extra comfort. Nibbles and drinks are essential, too. Deckchairs are another good idea because it can get sore sitting on grass for a long time."
Beach dates. "If you're lucky enough to live near a beach that has reopened to visitors, like Brighton and Bournemouth, beaches are the perfect date spot as long as you stay two metres apart. Bring your swimsuit because a dip in the chilly water is a great way to bond."
Wild swimming. "There are lots of places where you can go wild swimming in lakes and rivers and enjoy a walk in the country at the same time. Lots of accessible via public transport as you can discover in this wild swimming guide."
A game of tennis. "In ordinary times we would only be a few weeks away from Wimbledon. Tennis is one the best sports for social distancing fun. All public courts have reopened and most are next to parks. It means you can combine a couples of sets with a park date."
A bike ride. "Cycling is another sport that lends itself to social distancing. You could arrange to cycle around a local park or the mega adventurous could try something a bit more tiring. Box Hill in Surrey, for instance, is a big one for cyclists but definitely not for the faint hearted. If you haven't got a bike most cities have bike sharing schemes these days, so it should not be too much trouble to find a set of wheels."
Roller blading. "A fun way to make a park date a little more exciting. Bring elbow and knee pads if you are new to it because falls happen often and you can end up with a few cuts and bruises..."
A city walk. "Most city centres are far quieter than they ever were and it's a great time to see tourism hotspots without the crowds."
Social distanced date advice
Chances are you're going to be feeling a bit weird about going on a socially distanced date during lockdown - and that's totally normal. "“It's OK to acknowledge that this new way of dating might feel awkward. We can’t ignore the fact that a lot has changed in the past few months and coronavirus has been a huge upheaval to all our lives," says Match’s dating expert Hayley Quinn.
And as socially distant dates are a new experience for everyone, Logan Ury, director of relationship science at Hinge reminds us not to be too hard on ourselves right now. "We’re all figuring this out as we go," she adds.
So, if you're feeling awkward/nervous/anxious when you go on the date, why not simply tell your date how you're feeling? Logan says, "You could say, 'This is kind of odd, isn’t it? Thanks for giving it a try with me'. Confessing your fears will lower your anxiety, because you no longer have to pretend you’re completely comfortable. It also gives the other person a chance to share what’s going on for them." And it's highly likely they'll be feeling weird, too.
How to build intimacy when you're so far apart
Many of us mistakenly think of intimacy as a physical thing. But while physical intimacy is important in building relationships, Logan says it's really only one aspect. "One of the fastest ways to create connection is through lowering your guard and sharing a vulnerable side of yourself," she says.
Kate agrees. "Sharing, conversation, openness and vulnerability, eye-contact and laughter are just some of a the ways that we connect all the time that don't require touch."
So how do you connect without touching? Logan suggests answering the famous 36 questions to fall in love. "They escalate in intensity and intimacy and aren't just random questions. They were designed by psychologist Arthur Aron and his colleagues for an experiment in which they paired up random strangers to ask each other a series of 36 questions. Arthur and his team found that these particular questions help potential partners bond by building connection and promoting vulnerability."
Kate recommends playing the dating game from The School of Life. "Instead of sticking to the usual way of doing things, focus on being able to build intimacy in non-contact and non-physical ways, all of which can positively impact desire too," she adds.
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