How to date, have sex, and fall in love during the coronavirus pandemic

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Crystal Cox / Business Insider
The landscape of dating and gender has changed for many people in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
Social distancing measures make typical dinner dates and bar meetups impossible.
Some people also have to live with their partners for the first time and spend longer when city-wide barriers come into effect.
Insider has put together a guide to sex, love, and dating during the coronavirus pandemic.
You can find more stories on the Insider homepage.
The landscape of dating, love, and gender, as many of us know, has been dramatically changed by the coronavirus pandemic and the need to keep physical distance from others.
Even singles who have avoided dating apps in the past are now forced to search online for people who cannot rely on talking to strangers in crowded bars. Personal first appointments have turned into FaceTime sessions because restaurants, bars and concert halls are closed.
Insider has put together a guide to approaching dating, sex and love during the coronavirus pandemic - from navigating your existing relationships to developing new ones.
Consider quarantining with your partner - but only if you have good communication habits.
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BraunS / Getty Images
Many couples have to deal with the question of whether they should move in temporarily during a self-quarantine.
This is a difficult decision, especially if you have never spent a long time together.
A general rule of thumb is: if you have poor communication with your partner or are unable to deal with your feelings quite honestly, it is better to quarantine them separately.
"As always with healthy relationships and decisions, communication is key," said Dr. Melissa Robinson-Brown, a New York City-based relationship therapist, told Insider. "It may sound exciting and funny at first, but it is important to communicate about the fun and not so fun parts of living together."
At the start of a relationship, you may not be ready to cope with a high-pressure situation, such as quarantine. In this case you can stay in touch virtually.
"This is a crisis in the United States and the world that, along with other strong emotions, leads to increased anxiety," said Robinson-Brown. "If individuals are unable to have difficult conversations or make room for each other's feelings, it will be quite difficult to quarantine together."
You and your partner can be sexually intimate if none of you have symptoms.
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Crystal Cox / Business Insider
If you decide to quarantine your partner (or others), you may be wondering whether it is safe to be sexually intimate.
Experts say that it is generally safe if you and your partner want to have sex during the coronavirus pandemic - but only if none of you have symptoms.
"I think the greatest thing is, if you are sick, avoid other people, and that's just a general rule of thumb," said infectious disease expert Dr. Saskia Popescu, previously to Insider.
There is currently no evidence that the coronavirus can be transmitted sexually. If you and your partner are healthy and wash your hands and disinfect your home regularly while practicing social distance, you should be okay to have sex.
Phone sex can be a great alternative for meeting people.
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Crystal Cox / Business Insider
If you are concerned about whether your partner or a potential connection has been exposed to the corona virus and you prefer to play it, you can always opt for phone sex.
Calling partners or appointments and phone sex can be a great way to explore your desires while staying safe and preventing the virus from spreading.
"Phone sex is a good time to talk to your partners about what they want sexually or what they dream of," phone sex operator Stephanie Cathcart told Refinery29.
If you're more of a visual person, video sex via FaceTime or Zoom is also an option.
FaceTime appointments and zoom meetups are useful tools to get to know people instead of cocktails or dinners.
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Westend61 / Getty Images
Singles may need to rethink how they can date without being able to meet in person, and insider Julia Naftulin reported that people are already turning to FaceTime appointments and other alternatives to meet potential romantic interests.
While this is unconventional for those of us who are used to making personal first dates in bars or restaurants, meeting dating apps like Tinder, Hinge, and Lex online can help make a better connection with someone before setting a video date becomes.
If you want to meet people, be careful and ask how your sexual partner's quarantine situation was.
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Crystal Cox / Insider
If you absolutely want to meet to have sex with someone in person, New York City - which was the coronavirus epicenter in the U.S. - has published guidelines on how to do it in the safest way.
"Be creative with sexual positions and physical barriers like walls," city health officials said in new guidelines released on Monday. They also suggested that New Yorkers "wear a face mask or mask" during sex, as a recent Harvard study found that masks are a viable solution for couples who don't live together.
Orgies were also discouraged by the guidelines that said, "If there are two companies, three (or more) are definitely a lot."
In addition to clinging to just one or two sexual partners who live outside of your home, it is important to make sure that you know how they interacted with other people and what precautions they have taken to protect yourself from COVID-19.
For polyamorous or non-monogamous people who live with a partner but not with others, it is important to set limits on how you can spend time together.
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Dating during the coronavirus pandemic is particularly difficult when you have multiple partners to look after.
Rachel Wright, a New York City-based relationship expert who is polyamorous, previously said she changed her dates to stop the spread of the coronavirus and noted concerns from her non-monogamous clients about how social distancing would affect their love lives.
"There is no question that social distancing and polyamory are very difficult to mate with," Wright told Insider. "The personal appointments for me are put on hold because I commit to stop the spread and do everything I can to help."
Another potential problem is figuring out what to do if you live with one partner rather than another.
"One of the biggest challenges in all of this is having multiple partners, but being quarantined with one of them," Wright said. "It is new territory to maintain these relationships without physical contact and constantly in the same apartment and living space as the partner you live with."
Wright said it is important to set limits with the partner you live with to ward off jealousy. Make it clear at what time and on which days you would like to chat with your other partner or partners who do not live with you.
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