Dating in the pandemic can be fun

Don’t mask the love

COVID-19 has put a damper on date night, but savvy Dalhousie University students can maintain romantic relationships by thinking outside the box. 

I’m one of the lucky ones, in that I live with my husband here in HRM. I also consider myself lucky to have a partner I love spending time with. 

In 2020, when the first lockdown commenced, I heard many of my friends complaining about being confined with their partners. Some Canadian lawyers even noticed a spike in divorce inquiries. I don’t have this problem. 

My problem is finding time outside our everyday routine for romance. The solution? Redesigning our concept of romance and dating. 

Bring the cinema home

Going on a romantic outing doesn’t need to look like the classic dinner and a movie template. Don’t get me wrong, I love a big screen Blockbuster flick as much as the next person. But what if you can’t go out?

We’ve been lucky in the number of restaurants and activities still available to us in N.S., but some things are limited. The Dartmouth Cineplex website, for example, currently warns, “Due to recent government orders, we are not able to serve you food or drinks, including our famous popcorn. We’re with you – it won’t be the same!” 

Fortunately, Cineplex is still selling buttery popcorn for takeout, and you can even have it delivered through courier services like Uber Eats

The twist? An at-home cineplex night, complete with popcorn and treats. Cineplex has Home Premiers which let you pay to stream movies playing in theater from your computer or smart TV. 

Nothing on the big screen worth seeing? Reach for some oldies and have each partner pick a film to share. You can make this more interesting by choosing a theme, genre, or decade. 

If you’re like me, you’ll add a veto clause to this date night idea. I still haven’t seen The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and he can’t make me. 

Staycation that special occasion

Another place romance gets lost for me during pandemic restrictions is during special occasions. My birthday, for example, almost always includes some kind of live theater performance, either at Neptune Theatre or Halifax Feast Dinner Theatre. Anniversaries warrant a weekend away and a mini adventure. 

With live shows in scarce supply and travel involving too many quarantine concerns, my husband and I have begun a steady staycation routine. 

I’ve been to most of the hotels in Downtown Halifax at this point. My favorite is The Hollis. It’s just new enough to feel fancy, but not so posh you break the bank to get a suite. 

Obviously renting a hotel suite isn’t a first date idea. If you’re in a serious relationship and looking for ways to reaffirm the romance, this is a refreshingly fun date. 

A hotel night is especially enjoyable if you go while restaurants are open and restrictions let you stop into local shops. Take a stroll down Spring Garden Road and visit Presotea for a huge selection of milk tea mixtures and boba chewies. I also recommend visiting Elle’s Bistro on Barrington for brunch the next morning. 

If restrictions make eat-in options off-limits, try the “Hot & Spicy” pizza from Sicilian on Blowers Street. They’ll deliver right to your hotel room!

Take a drive on the not so wild side

Not all date ideas have to include a traditional romantic activity. Sometimes, just getting out of the house and away from the monotony is enough to spark those romantic vibes. 

One of my favorite things is going for drives (especially if it’s raining). Pick a place, far but not too far, or just drive until you feel like turning around. 

Make a playlist or share songs you loved when you were younger and talk about what they mean to you now. Zip through a drive-through and grab a coffee to go. 

If you’re looking for a road with an ocean view and a cute local coffee joint, I recommend Lawrencetown. Rose & Rooster Café on Highway 207 uses local Sissiboo Coffee beans and TeaGeekery teas. They also make a mean millionaire shortbread square. 

If the weather is nice, park and take a walk through the Salt Marsh Trail. You won’t regret it. 

Keeping love alive in a pandemic

Some of these ideas might be totally out of your interest or comfort zone. That’s cool. The point is to broaden your horizons and try to reinvent the dating concept to fit your current reality. 

Whether we’re stuck at home or exploring new ways to enjoy our city, Dal students can find and maintain love. Even at the worst of times.

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