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9 ideas to help you virtually date while social distancing – CNET

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Here’s how to keep your dating life going during social distancing.
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For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

You’ve matched. You’ve messaged. You’ve even video chatted.

There’s a problem, though: As much as you’d like to meet up with an interesting new person who you might like to date, there’s a global pandemic. Odds are you can’t or shouldn’t cram yourselves into a small corner booth at the bar and discuss your favorite seasons of Parks and Recreation.

To say the least, online daters are just one group of many who are trying to figure out how to carry on with their usual habits at a time when nothing has been usual, thanks to the coronavirus crisis. Even several months in, folks are still grappling with how to work and attend school from home, not to mention getting a line on hard-to-find yeast. For daters, they’re sorting out how to not only look for love but build a relationship with a screen in the way, perhaps more than it usually is.

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According to data from OkCupid, daters sent more than 35 million intro messages in March, which is about 4 million more than in the same time frame last year. More than 90% of its users say they’re dating virtually. There’s also been a 5% increase in folks looking for long-term relationships and a 20% decrease in those looking for hookups.

But once you’ve covered the basics of a first date via video chat, what comes next? Here are some ideas for when that first date progresses to a second, third and fourth.

Read more: Best dating sites of 2020

Take a museum tour

Museum dates are a classic. In lieu of going to one in real life, you can find various tours on YouTube of museums around the world. There’s one series, for example, that’s essentially a slideshow of famous works from the Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain. Elsewhere on YouTube, you can find a walking tour of the Louvre in Paris, France. Google Arts and Culture also offers virtual tours of sorts from famous museums. Depending on what each museum offers, you can scroll through collections the way you would your own Google photos, or check out the online exhibits, which tend to offer some more background information. For your date, you can try to synchronize or screen-share, so you’re looking at the same art at the same time.

Watch a concert recording

Once again turning to YouTube (or any other platform that might offer music), you can find full-length concerts from bands and artists. Whether it’s Queen at Wembley Stadium in 1986, Radiohead at Lollapalooza in 2016 or Billie Eilish at Music Midtown last year, there’s quite a lot out there. And if you don’t want to commit to a whole hours-long concert, you could head to somewhere like NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series, where acts play shorter sets at NPR Music’s headquarters in Washington. Watch together and chat away via phone or video chat.

Create art together

For the more creative-minded out there, you can plan an art project to do together over video chat. Using whatever art supplies you have on hand, decide on something to draw or paint. This could be a landmark you both know, an image you found on Google, or you could even just print off a coloring page — Crayola, for example, offers free printable pages for adults. Spend the next hour, or however long, working on it while you chat. At the end, you can show each other the results of your craft time.

Solve a virtual escape room

Want to see how well you solve problems together? Try a virtual escape room. An escape room, if you haven’t tried one, is an immersive problem-solving scenario — you’re literally in a room trying to follow clues, usually tied to a fictional situation, in a limited amount of time. You can find some virtual translations online. For example, the Peters Township Public Library in McMurray, Pennsylvania, created a Harry Potter-themed room using Google Docs. If you’re looking for a bit more of a challenge, The Escape Game also offers virtual escape rooms. Currently, there’s a multipart game called The Heist, about an art thief, that you can get bundled for $17, or separately for $10.

Have a movie night

Services like Netflix Party — a Chrome extension that lets you sync up your Netflix viewing and chat on the side — have gotten a lot of attention since the days of social distancing began. Might as well make a date out of it. Though Netflix Party only supports text chat, for a more immediate experience you can also talk on the phone or on a platform like Discord while you watch. In case that sounds like low-hanging fruit, date-wise, OkCupid had more than 30,000 respondents indicate that watching a movie or TV show together is their ideal virtual date.

Share a virtual dinner or drinks

If you don’t mind someone watching you eat via a video call, you can stage a dinner or drinks date. Put on some decent clothes, order food or eat whatever you’ve cooked, and carry on with the usual over-dinner banter you might have at a restaurant or bar. If you want to bulk up the experience a bit, you can find a recipe for a meal or just a cocktail and prepare it at the same time while you chat.

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Play a game online together

There are plenty of options for games to play together online, particularly if one or both of you play video games already. CNET’s Alison DeNisco Rayome compiled a list of games great for quarantine, ranging from Animal Crossing (a good choice for a low-key hang out), to Tabletopia and Table Top Simulator (if you’re into board games), to Jackbox Games, which you could screen-share from one device.

Or go old-school with classic games

If you aren’t one of the legions of folks visiting friends’ islands in Animal Crossing, you can resort to simple games and puzzles. Remember playing Battleship as a kid? All you need is a pen and paper (graph paper, if you have it). There’s also a pretty simple online version you can try. Or you can work on a crossword puzzle together. The Washington Post, for example, lets you send a link to a crossword puzzle to a friend so you can work on the same one at the same time, for free. The New Yorker also has a “partner mode,” if you have a subscription.

Book club it

Pick something to read, watch or listen to that you both can talk about. This could be an album, a podcast, an article or a short story. Maybe hold off on assigning a 500-page book just yet. Instead of worrying about firing up the small talk machine, you have some built-in conversational material to rely on.

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