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Whether you’re swiping left and right on Tinder looking for the one, or you’re already in a committed relationship with a partner or partners, dating these days is tough. Where do you go for a first date when you don’t feel comfortable eating in restaurants or when movie theaters are closed? What do you do with your spouse for your anniversary if you can’t treat them to a night out on the town? Beyond pandemic-related restrictions, we’re also seeing higher rates of unemployment, and the financial struggles are real. We can’t all afford the same dates we used to. 

So here are some ideas to cut down on both the risks and the costs of getting your date on. 

For new love

Until you’ve folded your new beau into your quaranteam, you’ll want to go on a few socially distant dates to stay safe while getting to know them.

Watch party: Streaming technology has, for the most part, caught up to the pandemic, so even if you can’t go out to a movie theater, you can watch pretty much whatever you want together. Keep a video chat open (Zoom, Discord or Facebook Messenger) while using Hulu’s Watch Party feature (you both need an account) or download the free Scener extension for Google Chrome, which has a video chat feature built-in and works with most streaming sites. If all that fails, just sync up your DVDs and press play at the same time while on video chat with each other. It’s the next best thing to going to the theaters together. You can even make your own popcorn!

Cook together: There are tons of places you can take virtual cooking classes, including local establishments — meaning you can support local while learning to cook with your new partner in a safe and online-only setting. Gather Food Studio and the French Kitchen are two places to start, but check out your favorite restaurant; they may offer something too. If you’ve never done an online cooking class and don’t know what to expect, check out this piece from Matthew Schniper, who took a virtual Gather Food Studio cooking class near the start of the pandemic.

Go “in” for dinner: While we’re on the subject of food: Restaurants are still cooking, and they could still use your support, even if you aren’t comfortable eating indoors. Suggest going “in” for dinner with your date: Choose a restaurant, order at the same time to pick it up or get delivery, and eat “together.” This could mean taking your meal home and hopping on a video chat with your date, or finding a cozy spot in a park near your restaurant of choice and having a picnic. Plus, enough places are offering outdoor dining options that you could always scout out patios and tents to see whether you’re comfortable eating there. One request: Order local.

Take a hike: It’s getting colder out, but this is Colorado Springs, City of Sunshine, so you’ll be able to find at least a few trails with good sunlight that won’t be too icy. Hiking is a great way to walk, talk, enjoy nature and still keep a good six feet of distance between you. However, take the advice of dating experts (p. 10); this shouldn’t necessarily be your first date because you don’t want to be isolated with someone you don’t know. Save this for a few dates in, when you are sure you can trust them.

Peruse a virtual gallery: First Friday has often been a popular date night because you and your beau can tour local galleries and talk about art, watch performances and the like. Though that’s still possible in a limited capacity, there are also plentiful online options to peruse art. Consider exploring Peak Radar’s Virtual First Friday (peakradar.com/categories/firstfriday) while video chatting with each other. If you can, make a purchase, too! Artists could use the support, and a piece of art would make a great gift to show someone you like them.

For live-in lovers

All health guidance says to avoid contact with folks outside your household, but you can still enjoy home-bound or otherwise socially safe dates with your spouse or live-in partner(s).

Dance party: Who needs a crowd to have a dance party? In fact, it’s better without. Dress up in your best club clothes (or fancy dress, or whatever you like) and be your own DJ. You can make a playlist of your favorite tunes, maybe even introduce your partner(s) to new music, and dance in your own living room. Just move the breakables in case things get wild. Another option: tune into a live-streamed concert. Lots of big names and small acts alike are livestreaming shows now. Keep an eye on our occasional Big Gigs section (p. 24) to see new show announcements.

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Just move the breakables in case things get wild.

Customize a cocktail: Be your own mixologist by creating a signature cocktail just for you and your lover or lovers. Choose ingredients you have on-hand or make a masked trip to the store to pick up some local booze from folks like Lee Spirits or Distillery 291. You can collaborate to make a drink that reflects your relationship, or just the things you like to drink the most. Taste-testing is mandatory and fun, but the best part? Naming it! You could name it after where you were married, your favorite thing to do together, your pet names for each other — whatever pleases you.

Photoshoot: Every couple or polycule needs some nice photos together, and how long has it been since you got dressed up? Consider putting on some nice duds and snapping some pics! Since it’s possible to employ a professional photographer with ample social distancing, you can definitely call on someone to take quality photos — a memory you’ll hold onto forever. If money’s a concern, then do a selfie-session or put the timer on your camera to shoot some pics of yourselves. The fun is in the photoshoot itself, so even if the pictures don’t turn out great, you’ll have a great time.

Art together: We have some ideas for virtual gallery experiences on the opposite page; but that’s not all you can do. Creating together can help you bond. Draw pictures of each other, pick up supplies for a new crafting hobby you can both get into, create a scrapbook of your relationship — the possibilities are endless! If you need some direction, you’re sure to find ample online art classes to take. Then there’s Painting with a Twist (paintingwithatwist.com), which offers take-home art kits, complete with instructions to complete your chosen painting. Who knows, you could uncover a hidden talent together. 

Associate Editor

Alissa Smith is the associate editor of the Colorado Springs Indy, and has lived in Colorado Springs since 1996. She has coordinated listings, curated featured events, herded cats, and both edited and contributed to Queer & There.