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

How to find love in the time of physical distancing

From digital dates to surprise deliveries, here's our hands-off guide to wooing that special someone – in the middle of a pandemic.

By Divya Venkataraman
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Many aspects of Australian life have already been transformed due to strict physical distancing measures and stay-at-home orders, so dating might seem like a total impossibility at the moment. Simple 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 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. Here are our suggestions for responsibly looking for love in the era of Covid-19.

Go on a digi-date


“So, do you come here often?” Cheesy openers aside, an online 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’ (admit it, they're really just the pajamas you’ve had on for three days), dress up snazzy, and maybe even spritz on a little perfume or cologne, just to get in the zone. It’s all about
feeling cute. Bonus? You can scope out each others’ pets on the first date.  

Order a schmancy meal in


The hospitality industry has taken a thorough beating over the last few weeks, with all venues around the country forced to close up shop except for their 
takeaway and delivery options. But that has also resulted in some of the fanciest joints in town offering takeout for the first time. So why not try a fancy feast from the comfort of your own home? You may have to conduct your dinner date digitally, but ordering from the same restaurant makes the experience more authentic. For date-appropriate dining, try the succulent rendang curry from Chin Chin, delicate fish dishes from Saint Peter, or a degustation from Surry Hills outfit Arthur. Feel free to load up with garlic, anchovies and other ordinary date no-nos. 

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 star-crossed lovers at heart, cruelly wrenched apart by a malevolent plague? That’s the spirit.

Send a surprise delivery


It's not just letters you can send your prospective bae. Postal deliveries are super romantic, ask Meg Ryan. Just imagine your paramour stepping outside for their daily state-sanctioned solo walk and being greeted by fresh French pastries on their doorstep, a buttery crumpet care box, a monthly natural wine subscription, or even a Star Trek showbag. The choice is yours. 
 

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, if both parties are in the mood.

Attend the orchestra


You usually can’t whisper in a grand theatre without getting shhh'd, but when you’re watching opera online, you can show off your Baroque know-how (or more likely, check in to confirm that neither of you knows what’s going on) by live-chatting your beau during showtime. The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s
livestreamed performances have got you sorted for this one. No ball gowns necessary. 

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 Handpicked Cellar Door’s
online cheese and wine store, Jimmy Brings, or through natural wine outfit DRNKS. Better yet, support local bottleshops that do online delivery. If you’re looking more for a tipple or two than a case, then you’re in luck, because bars are still allowed to sell takeaway alcohol despite otherwise sweeping regulations for the hospitality industry. Order the first round of your favourite cocktail for two, and get your date to grab the next. 

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.

Where else you should be ordering in from on date night?

Person making coffee behind counter at Single O cafe
Photograph: Katje Ford

The Sydney bars, restaurants and cafes now doing delivery

News Restaurants

These are the businesses that are working hard to adapt to huge shifts in the way Sydneysiders are able to engage with the city. You can do your part to support them simply by enjoying the same eats, drinks and good times from the comfort of your own home.

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