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New rules of dating in a pandemic. Who knew?

I don’t make this stuff up.

There it was online on the front page of the local newspaper. “New rules of dating in the wake of the pandemic.” With images of two humans in face masks on what appeared to be a date.

The first thing you learn is to “not make assumptions.” You are supposed to ask your potential dates directly about their own social distancing boundaries. (I presume this is done during the pre-meet phase via video chat.)

Then you learn that you should wear a mask. One super helpful tip is that you can practice asking your dates to wear their mask if they’re “resistant.”

Then you learn about moving from a video date to an actual date. Here you learn to (and I quote) “ask about getting physical before you meet.”

The slideshow ends with “Experts say clarifying boundaries is essential now more than ever.” (I was unclear if they meant all the country boundaries we can not cross because of the pandemic.)

There you have it. All you need to know about dating in an era of colliding crises that includes a pandemic, economic free, massive business closures and joblessness, federal intimidation of protests asking for social justice and the local services for surviving (you know, housing, food, medical care) struggling to stay accessible.

I am also not making this up. Decades ago, during the AIDS epidemic, I was contracted by the Seattle-King County Department of Public Health to design an interactive public awareness campaign on preventing infection using a interactive cartoon series format. I would design/draw “Stella Seattle” and it would be published weekly in Seattle’s alternative paper (with high readership of young adults, you know, those seeking to date in a deadly epidemic). The cartoon strip would end with a question like, “Should Stella go out with the bartender Big Red?” The reader could call a special number (this was all pre-internet, of course) and vote via an automated survey. I would then draw the next cartoon based on the results. If 51% voted for Stella to reject handsome and hunky Big Red, so be it. (That never happened.)

One episode featured the “Score on 4” dating model, as a way to present a framework for bonding. I offer it here as an enhancement to the super insightful “New rules of dating in the era of COVID-19” and pesky societal upheaval.


Here, during your video chat, you can focus on the fascinating here and now.

Examples: “My job is at risk.” “No one is hiring.”

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Here, still on video chat, you share some interesting information about growing up and valuable lessons learned along the way.

Examples: “My childhood was harsh.” “My last lover was a jerk.”

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Here (yes, still on chat because if your futures don’t align, you don’t want to meet this person). Share your dreams about tomorrow and how you see yourself in the next few months and years.

Examples: “I have no idea what will happen.” “Old people destroyed our future.”

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If you enjoyed all three steps and there are no warning signs of sociopathic behavior, you can agree to meet in a public place for a short stroll. Let the chemistry work its magic. And have fun with that end-of-date elbow bump.

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*The future is what we make it. Join the evolution.

Please excuse any typos as I construct an article at 3am on only one cup of Joe. These stories are mine and mine alone. I do not represent any organization here. If one of my illustrations looks like a real human, dating apps or three-headed hydra, that’s total coincidence. Words and images ©Dominic Cappello but share with everyone you know. Questions? The Plan Forward awaits you here:

A NY Times bestselling author, social justice activist, Oprah guest, co-author of Attack of the Three-Headed Hydras, 100% Community and Anna, Age Eight.

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