It didn’t take very long for my boyfriend and me to run out of quarantine date ideas, and by that I mean neither of us had the energy to think of any to begin with. What does a date in quarantine even look like?
To my chagrin, he might argue that it looks like spending every waking moment together and then some, as in: This is one long date. But taking time to actually connect—and not just pick our noses side by side on the couch, which we may or may not have done last weekend—is important. Especially in a time as emotionally charged as this.
And so it goes with people looking to spice up their dating life from a distance too. As SELF has already written, dating can very much still go on right now. In fact, you might even be more excited to date than you’ve ever been before.
So whether you’re quarantined with your partner or looking to spice up your social distancing love life, here are some actually enjoyable quarantine date ideas.
Virtual Dating Ideas
I’ve played versions of this on successful in-person dates, and it can translate to a phone call or FaceTime just as well. You know the rules: Think of a person, place, or thing. Then have the other person ask up to 20 yes-or-no questions to figure out what it is you’re thinking. For a slightly more intimate version, just ask 20 questions about each other, back and forth. The goal, of course, is to go off on a tangent and forget that you were playing a game altogether.
For couples who are apart—or those wishing they could go on a classic third-date dinner—try cooking the same thing together and then eating it together too. “My brother and his girlfriend each cooked the same dessert over FaceTime, and they really enjoyed it!” a friend told me. “She sent him the recipe in advance so that he could buy the right ingredients, and then they did all of the prep and cooking (and eating) over FaceTime.” Sounds very yum!
I have always wanted an excuse to try the 36 Questions. You know, the 36 questions, where you make eye contact with a near stranger and ask each other 36 personal questions in three segments, as outlined by the psychologist Arthur Aron, in an attempt to accelerate intimacy? Well, what better time to try? Though eye contact is difficult over FaceTime (where are you supposed to look? At the camera? The person’s face? Your own face? I’ve never understood this), you will certainly have an enlightening time going through these 36 questions together, whether you actually fall in love or not.
Houseparty is a multiperson video-chat app with several game options, including trivia, guessing games, and drawing games, all of which you can play without leaving the app on your phone or computer. It’s a great low-lift virtual dating idea for when you feel like doing something, anything, on a first or second date but aren’t quite up for investing in some sort of elaborate, romantic scheme to sweep someone off their feet via FaceTime. (Plus, you don’t need some fairytale scheme to win ’em over. You will sweep them off their feet just the way you are.)
For this virtual dating idea, one of you needs to own a Jackbox Party Pack, which is a bundle of multiplayer games that you can play on any device (laptop, smartphone, smart TV, you name it). They’re affordably priced (under $30) and are a great way to connect with socially distanced friends or quarantine-mates even if you decide to never use it on a date again. For more ways to play games with friends over Zoom or FaceTime, click here.
Boy, doesn’t that sound fun! Don’t judge quite yet, because I know someone who actually did this (on a whim, but still) and said it was absolutely hilarious. If you find yourself in a conversation lull, take your virtual date for a walk around the house. If you’re quarantining with others, you never know who you’ll run into—and what they’ll add to the conversation. In this day and age, anything goes.
Netflix Party is a Chrome extension that synchronizes video playback and adds a group-chat function to anything you want to watch on Netflix. My recommendation? Watch a notoriously bad movie over something more earnest. That way, you can bond over the corny parts, laugh at the stale jokes, and flex your humor muscle with witty commentary. Movie theater, arm-over-seat romance is hard to re-create when we’re apart, so lean into the alternative.
At-Home Date-Night Ideas
You might be surprised (or maybe you wouldn’t be?) at how quickly the days can pass with nary an intimate touch between partners in quarantine. After all, you’re together all the time! But it’s common to assume that sex is just going to happen, rather than carve out space for it, which can end up leading to less intimacy. So planning an intentional night or dedicated time to be together can be extremely valuable.
Just last week I was speaking to my therapist about how I’ve felt an inexplicable sense of loss since I’ve started to go to sleep much earlier than my boyfriend. “Maybe you just need to be better at initiating sex,” she said. So the next night, when we were working side by side on the couch, I finished what I was writing, saved my document, shut my laptop, and said, “Do you want to have sex?” It was the best quarantine date night we’ve had so far.
We can all be a little territorial over our favorite self-care products, so why not take a night to call a truce? Any product is up for grabs during your spa at-home date night—your favorite mask, their favorite cream, a little bit of this, a little bit of that. End with a massage. Put cucumbers over your eyes. Soak in the luxury that is escapism.
In my quarantine home, dinner tends to be a joint effort. Together, we agree on a “menu,” if you want to call it that; one of us cooks the protein, one of us cooks the side, and whoever is up for it tosses the salad—usually him, if I’m being honest. This isn’t romantic, but it isn’t not romantic either—it’s utilitarian. We make it work with each other’s days and schedules in mind.
That’s why I recommend a dedicated cooking night: One person takes full control over one night, the other person takes another. The meal is a gift; the present is not having to lift a finger—an action that feels quite meaningful these days.
Support your favorite local restaurant and spend the time you’d otherwise need to prep your meal doing something else together, like taking a walk or playing a game. For added romance, order from someplace particularly nostalgic.
Doesn’t it sound so fun to date me? I know you’re probably thinking, WTF, but hear me out. Similar to my recommendation that you hand a meal off to one person to take on entirely, I think there is something to be said about dedicating a specific, finite, and certain amount of time to tackling something rather than constantly having to do little maintenance on it all of the time. This is a particularly draining part of quarantine. There are always dishes to do, always a messy corner, always one dusty surface—you get the rest. You will probably want or need to clean your home at some point. Instead of doing it a little bit at a time, all of the time, spend one hour going all out together. Make it an activity! Reward yourselves afterward! Listen to good music. You’ll connect over your shared goal. The bonus? It will lessen the here-and-there cleaning you do around the house tenfold.
Walks are fun, are therapeutic for your mind, and feel good for your body. I like to take them often—especially after a day of sitting within the same four walls as my significant other. That being said, having the ability to do so is a privilege, dependent upon everything from your location to the amount of free time you’re able to spend. If and when you are able to take a walk together, it’s worth a go around the block. If you’re able, trek to a place that you love—your favorite park, or even a lamppost. There is something to be said for a quiet conversation outdoors—creating your own little world in the middle of everyone else’s. (And, of course, remember to wear a cloth mask if and when you do go out in public.)
I can’t promise this won’t also make you fight. But it will certainly make you laugh. And sometimes, that’s just as important. There is nothing—and I mean nothing—like doing a puzzle under pressure. Set a timer depending on how many pieces are in your puzzle, and go. No phones, no TV, no interruptions. Just the two of you.
Take a classic date-night idea and turn it into a classic at-home date-night idea. The internet is loaded with virtual and Zoom cooking classes, though I’m most interested in Airbnb’s Online Experiences. You can help support individuals from around the world by taking one-on-one cooking lessons with them in classes like “Spanish Tapas Like My Grandma Used to Make” from a woman in Spain, or learn “All About Coffee With a Colombian Pro Taster & Barista.” They’re also extremely affordable, mostly under $25 per person per class.
Now, there’s pretty much an online workout class option to suit everyone’s tastes. We’ve put together a list of some of our faves here; you should also check out this roundup of fat- and body-positive workouts you can do at home. If you’re not in the mood to work out these days, totally fair. But it can be a nice way to unplug from the rest of the world together for a while.