From Monday 17th May 2021 in England and Scotland, you can meet indoors and stay at another person’s household overnight. Hugging is allowed, and so is close contact with people outside your household or bubble.

Many single people are being cautious and continuing to take things slowly, with sex happening at later stage on the dating timeline than before the pandemic. But others are looking forward to having casual sex again.

We all need to exercise our own judgment about the risks involved. There are many factors: whether you’ve both been vaccinated, whether it will affect others in your social circles, your own immune system, and others.

The New Normal for sex

There is a new dating dilemma: if you’ve already been intimate with one person this week, should you wait before being intimate with another? The standard two weeks of self-isolation has been used by many over the last year who want to visit care homes, travel, or visit family at Christmas. It may be that it’s considerate and safer to do this now when dating. One scenario might be that you have two first dates lined up. If the first one goes ok but you think the second one is more promising, you might decide to wait before becoming intimate and then make a choice.

The other difference is that kissing used to be the first thing you would do on a date, and sexual intimacy would follow later, perhaps after a couple more dates. But now kissing is more risky than sex. People should avoid kissing, wear a face covering and choose positions that aren’t face-to-face, say the Terence Higgins Trust. It is now known that the virus is almost entirely transmitted through the air rather through touch, hence the risk of kissing is high, where you are breathing on each other more. Will we learn to hold our breath while kissing? Will holding (sanitised) hands become the new exciting way to end a first date? Or will people move more quickly into some form of sexual intimacy without going through the kissing stage? And what about outdoor sex? We will have to wait and see what the new trends become.

Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels

The New Etiquette of Communication

It’s perfectly normal now to communicate a lot more about hygiene and health. Check that you both have no Coronavirus symptoms each time you become intimate, and ask about other members of each other’s household too. If you develop symptoms after, you should tell the other person and then self-isolate.

It’s much easier these days to talk about what you feel comfortable with, whether it’s when to wear a mask, whether to go indoors, whether to keep the windows open, or asking about sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. Make sure you’ve both been tested since your last sexual partner. It’s also important to use protection, not just for heterosexuals to avoid pregnancy but for all of us to avoid passing on sexually transmitted infections. Scientific knowledge about passing on Coronavirus is not complete, so there may still be a risk there too.

It’s ok to ask if they’ve been vaccinated and when. It’s much safer to spend time indoors (or having sex indoors or outdoors) two weeks after the second vaccination. We all need to judge what is right for ourselves and the other person, as there will be a unique set of factors for each pairing, including who we live with, how much contact we have with others, how many others we’ve been dating. Government guidelines say “The public can make informed, personal decisions on close contact, such as hugging, with their friends and family. Close contact continues to carry a risk of catching or spreading COVID-19, and people must consider the risk to themselves and to others.”

Your Personal New Normal

You need to be confident about articulating your OWN New Normal. If you want to wait longer before becoming intimate – now called slow dating – say so. If you don’t feel comfortable going to a bar yet, say so. And if you aren’t ready to be intimate with someone, it’s definitely your right to say so. Practise what you want to say and say it with conviction!

Useful links

Sex and Covid: What are the rules?

Coronavirus and sex: What you need to know

If you enjoyed the impact of slow dating on sex, what now?

Government guidelines for 17 May 2021

Your sexual health checklist as lockdown loosens

Featured image from from Pexels

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