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Illustration of a couple online dating with physical distancing
Illustration: Vecteezy/swayaway1

Love in the time of physical distancing

From digital dates to surprise deliveries, here are some dating ideas for when you want to woo that special someone – in the middle of a pandemic

By Divya Venkataraman

Many aspects of Australian life have already been transformed by strict physical distancing measures and stay-at-home orders, and dating is undeniably one of them. Handshakes are off the table, so who’s lining up to kiss a stranger right now?

Now that bars and restaurants have been forced to close their physical doors, you can’t just go to your regular CBD date spot after work to meet up with your special someone – or potentially find a new one. But you know what that means? It’s time to get creative. We’re here with some ideas for fashioning a modern-day love story worthy of even Gabriel García Márquez.


Go on a digi-date

“So, do you come here often?” Easy gags aside, a digital rendezvous is the safest option if you’re looking to go on a date with someone you don’t actually live with. Book in for a good old-fashioned video call. But make it feel different to a work conference. Change out of what you’ve been calling ‘loungewear’ (but is really just the pyjamas you’ve had on for three days), dress up snazzy, and maybe even spritz on a little perfume or cologne. It’s all about feeling cute. Bonus? You can scope out each others’ pets on the first date. 


Send a surprise delivery 

Postal deliveries are super romantic – just ask Meg Ryan. Just imagine stepping out for your state-sanctioned solo walk and being greeted with a surprise package at your door. You could make someone's day with a gourmet cheese care package left on their stoop, make-at-home gnocchi, or a pretty bunch of flowers.


Write a letter

With all these Italians singing from balconies, you’d think we were in a Shakespearean play. Well, it’s not Verona, and you definitely can’t be throwing stones at people’s bedroom windows (#stayathome), but you can embody the Elizabethan spirit in your day to day. Pen a letter (or a poem if you’re feeling particularly florid) and woo your crush the old-fashioned way. Maybe even spritz some perfume on it to go the whole Mills and Boon route. After all, mail delivery is still an essential service. And aren’t we all starcross'd lovers at heart, cruelly wrenched apart by a malevolent plague? That’s the spirit.


Order a schmancy meal in

The hospitality industry has taken a thorough beating over the last few weeks, with all venues around the country now having been forced to close up shop except to offer takeaway and delivery. Why not try a fancy feast via takeout? For date-appropriate dining, try out the Sicilian-focussed pasta at Mister Bianco, delicate French fare from Bar Margaux, or go all out at the inimitable AtticaFeel free to load up with garlic, anchovies and other ordinary date no-nos. 


Get stuck into games night

Inject a little mental gymnastics into date night and check out some nifty two-player games you can play over a screen. Think Scrabble online, Celebrity Heads or play with friendly fire over a bout of good old-fashioned trivia. For a little spice, throw in a stripping element to the activities. 


Attend a gig or performance 

You usually can’t whisper in a theatre without getting annoyed “shhhhh”s, but when you’re watching performances online, you can show off your know-how about drag queens, orchestral pieces or comedy stars (or more likely, check in to confirm that neither of you knows what’s going on) by live-chatting your beau during showtime. Here are some excellent online events and performances you can stream right now.


Shout a round via boozy delivery 

This one is basically just buying that cute someone a drink at the bar, but dialled up a notch. You can get drinks delivered to your date’s home via services like the Cocktail Porter, which delivers DIY cocktail kits and bottled cocktails to your door. Better yet, support local bottleshops that do online delivery


Netflix and chill - no, really

Netflix Party should help with this one. Sync up your screens and chat through your favourite scenes of an old classic, or try out a new release to get you on the edge of your seat. There’s something a little naughty about food, so we’ve put together a list of the best food films you should be streaming right now. Ready to hark back to a time when ‘pandemic’ was just a word from that Gwyneth Paltrow movie? Try these escapist flicks to get your mind off things. 

Wondering how else to while away the time?

Photo of Flinders St Station with a croissant, smartphone and Melbourne monopoly laid over it
Photograph: Graham Denholm

How to have the most Melbourne day ever indoors

Things to do

7.30am Wake up. Change from your all-black pyjamas into your all-black activewear/day pyjamas. Hey, dress codes don’t apply during the shutdown. Style tip: put on a black blazer if you have to join a video meeting. 8amLune Croissanterie has launched a home delivery service just in time for the shutdown hoedown. Call the croissant hotline (0467 048 540) to place your order (minimum order $50) and enjoy the patisserie’s famous croissants for brekky at home. 9amInstead of going out for a coffee, why not make one at home? Order some coffee beans from Market Lane. The local roastery and café offers a subscription service where you’ll be delivered beans every fortnight, or you can make one-off orders. Roasted beans are available whole, or ground to the ideal size for your coffee making device.  10.30amTry an online workout. There are hundreds to choose from but we suggest staying local and supporting Melbourne gyms who’ve been forced to close. Crunch Fitness and Kaya Health Clubs are two such gyms that are pivoting to livestreamed classes you can do at home. 11.30am Take a tour of Melbourne Museum virtually. All Museums Victoria venues have had to close their doors but they’ve gone online and are releasing new content over the coming weeks. Melbourne Museum, in particular, has some fun virtual tours available, including this one of the Wild: Amazing Animals in a Changing World exhibit (that is, the room full of taxidermy animals).  NoonIf y


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