We live at a time that would make any conservative, Victorian-era grandmother's heart leap for joy. Thanks to COVID-19 and the infectious disease it has unleashed, there's never been a time like the present, when even going on a date with someone you don't know well can be a risky proposition, and when elbow bumping has become the new hugging as a way to say hello or goodbye. "Talking to a guy face-to-face on a date in a restaurant without masks is akin to the risk of having sex without a condom right now," a single woman named Debbie told HuffPost about dating in the time of the coronavirus.
It all boils down to what we know about COVID-19: It can be airborne and can spread by sneezing, coughing, or even just plain talking, because potentially-infectious saliva droplets can actually spray out of your mouth. When folks who have it are completely asymptomatic, they have the ability to infect other people without knowing. And so, "The virus can be spread through saliva, so that means it can be spread during kissing," Dr. Felice Gersh says bluntly (via Healthline).
It would be easy to end the story there. But as humans, we are build for, and thrive on, intimacy. And while kissing can be dangerous, even for couples who cohabit, University of Arizona communications professor Kory Floyd can understand why even two people who have just met would be aching to take it further, even in the age of the coronavirus.
"[Affection] is such an important behavior in the development and also in the maintenance of our romantic relationships," Floyd tells Los Angeles Times. "Many people can remember the first time they hugged or the first kiss or the first time they had sex. Those kinds of affectionate behaviors are turning points in a relationship." So, it doesn't look like those of us on the lookout for love or intimacy are going to give up that easily.
But if you really like this person and think there is a chance you could take things further, USC associate professor Paula Cannon recommends an unromantic solution, which involves getting tested, and then showing each other your tests before taking things to the next step — like from talking online, to meeting in person, possibly holding hands, and possibly — if you really trust each other and are infection free, kissing (via HuffPost).
Social distancing has also given us an opportunity to do something our parents and grandparents did, because many first dates are now happening online, couples are actually starting to get to know each other before they get physical. "It's old-school. It's like Jane Austen," Rutgers University research associate Helen Fisher, who specializes in human sexuality and romantic love says. "People are getting to know somebody before they jump into the sheets."