Across Oregon, college students are returning to campuses and finding that dating and relationships are different than before the COVID-19 pandemic. Taking precautions to protect oneself and others from acquiring or spreading COVID-19 continues to be an important part of our everyday lives.
But, with the availability of vaccines and testing there is a natural desire to want to return to “normal,” to do the everyday activities we enjoy and probably took for granted before March 2020. For young adults, dating and intimacy can be particularly challenging with COVID-19 still being a risk factor.
Here are some tips for staying safe while dating:
- Get vaccinated.
- Communicate your level of comfort and expectations.
- If it’s important to you, ask your date if they are vaccinated.
- If it feels safer, stick with virtual dating.
- If Zoom dates aren’t cutting it, consider outdoor activities like a picnic, hike or patio dining.
- Before meeting in person, ask your date how they have been feeling and if they have potential COVID-19 symptoms, postpone for 10 days.
- If you are in a crowd outdoors or are inside a public space, please wear a mask and physically distance.
Sometimes navigating the world of dating, relationships and sex can be confusing and awkward, but with COVID-19 there are additional concerns and health risks.
If you plan to be intimate, consider:
- COVID-19 can be spread by close, physical contact including kissing, sex and other acts that will likely exchange bodily fluids.
- If you or your date/partner think you may have been exposed to COVID-19, put a hold on sexual activities and discuss how you can practice safer sex moving forward.
- Having one sexual partner who has limited exposure to others in their daily interactions.
- Using condoms, internal condoms, or dental dams.
- If both of you are vaccinated, feeling well and are taking precautions to avoid COVID-19 exposure, intimacy is likely to be safe.
- You are your safest sexual partner!
Sex can and should be fun, healthy and loving. But please remember that the best intimate interactions also mean:
- Avoiding an unintended pregnancy.
- Protecting yourself from STDs.
Choosing not to have sex for any reason is always okay. Remember no means no.