Pandemic dating is a treacherous pursuit. It contains all the risks of pre-COVID times, including but not limited to: falling in love; not falling in love (which, I contend, is worse); entertaining long, boring conversations where you end up saying something like, “I don’t think money is evil per se, but it can be a vehicle for evil…” because you’re just trying to participate, but you don’t know what you’re saying anymore; volatile swings in self-esteem; volatile swings in your bank account; disappointing your friends and family; pleasing your friends and family but disappointing yourself; wasted time; and, perhaps the greatest peril of all, wasted outfits.
Of course now, in 2020, we’ve incurred the added burden of forming connections from six-feet away in well ventilated spaces underneath a mask. It would puzzle me that we even try at all, but then I remember that I would tip-toe through soot and shattered glass if it were my only avenue to getting affection—a dystopian scene far too easy to imagine right now.
The point is, unless you’re a Broadway production, the show must go on. Below, I’ve assembled a set of possible socially distanced dates for each zodiac sign. But first, a few caveats: These suggestions assume a romantic and sort of monogamous orientation, but they can be implemented whether you’re single, taken, entangled, all of the above, or neither. (I’ll probably do them all myself, as I have been happily self-entangled since birth.)
Aries: A date and an errand
Aries, don’t get mad, but you know you’re impatient and love a two-fer when it comes to scheduling. So, it’s a highly appealing proposition to take a date on a leisurely, socially distant walk down a scenic street… that just happens to drop you off near that one market that sells your favorite olive tapenade (of which your reserves are low). Efficiency is not the enemy of romance, you may contend. And brevity, however contrived, can only bait the desire for another meeting, you might note. And to prolong the sweetness of a courtship while nurturing one’s own autonomy and boundaries? Yes, your arguments have persuaded me, Aries. I’ll meet you at the laundromat in five.
Taurus: A picture-perfect picnic in the park
The Taurus heart adores an Instagrammable scene, so you will be enjoying a meticulously crafted charcuterie board and sparkling mineral water in a park. With someone special. Or with a friend. Or with a book you may be cozying up to at the moment. The date part doesn’t matter as much as the selection of triple-crème fromage, the plushness of the towel upon which you will sit, and the sunlight on your cheeks. If you can’t generate chemistry under those artful conditions, with a date or a book, then you can throw them both out.
Gemini: A Zoom trivia date
Even when Geminis lose at trivia (rare, but it happens), they learn a new slate of facts that end up making them even more formidable competitors next time. The mind of the twin is well occupied by trivia—it’s playful, mentally stimulating, spans a breadth of subjects, and features instant gratification (or disappointment). So, a Zoom trivia date is an ideal format for Geminis because a) it’s easy in these times, and b) it functions as a thorough introduction to all of their personalities. We aren’t always inclined to trot them all out at once—it depends on what we have in front of us to react to and how we’re feeling. But to be party to a Gemini as they think and strategize and win and lose and talk shit all at the same time is to truly know us. And to know us is to, probably, love us.
Cancer: A beach date
There was no other contender for your perfect socially distanced date, Cancer. You love the beach because you crabs are from the beach—cosmically speaking. And the beach happens to be a fairly virus-friendly outing, at least in the hot months (especially your season!). It’s breezy and open, allowing for easy distancing and fresh airflow. And it’s nostalgic and childlike, bringing out the sweetest parts of you. Nothing gets you out of your shell like a nurturing environment, and the salty waves and sand in your toes puts you safely on home turf. That puts you in the comfortable position of host, and it gives your date—or your partner or entanglement or friend or what have you—the best view into how warm and lovely you really are. Then, after an afternoon of opening up, you can pack your towels, close the car door, and not speak to anyone the rest of the day!
Leo: A sports date
Leo, to the extent that there are mini golf courses or tennis courts open during this pandemic, there is an opportunity for you to score major points with a date. Now, I admit, when I first imagined you sun children playing sports in a romantic setting, I considered whether or not your competitive streak and penchant for insufferable showboating would prove counterproductive. But that’s reductive. It overlooks one of your most underrated qualities, that of a hype person for the people close to you. Leos, you know you’re famous for radical self-love, and for good reason. But what you really love is championing others and making them feel as special as you feel 24/7. Even in the setting of a light competition, you’re a collaborator at heart, and there’s no better way to endear yourself to someone new—or reignite a spark of affection with someone familiar—than putting those instincts on display.
Virgo: A cute vacation town date
Virgo, you want out of Dodge, and you shall have your escape. Whether you’re headed to a remote mountain town or a quaint corner of the Cape, you’re ready to have an adorable, appropriately distanced, and hand-sanitized vacation. Whether you are traveling alone, with a partner, family, or your roommate, the allure of this trip is more breathing air that has circulated outside of your bedroom rather than any romantic objectives. But romance sneaks up when you’re least prepared (which annoys you, because you’d rather be prepared!), and your next socially distanced date will be… on vacation. Could be two ice cream floats enjoyed on boardwalk or a slow hike through a scenic hill. I can’t tell you who it will be with but it will be cute, and it will be the vacation you needed right now.
Libra: An antique shopping date
A date can be many things to you, Libra: an interview, an audition, a casual hang, a wedding. It can also be an effective vehicle for acquisition, if you schedule it right, and so your next socially distanced date will be to go antique shopping. It’s strategic for you on a few levels. First, you’ve significantly lowered your odds of walking away empty-handed; you may find yourself a second date or a ceramic teapot shaped like an elephant. Second, you’re supporting local businesses, which benefits you and your community. And third, the kitsch factor is high, which delights your aesthetic soul. You are the deal-makers in the zodiac, which sounds so mercenary, but you make it cute. Everyone tends to get what they want, not just you. This date isn’t just about small business patronage, rare novelty merchandise, your good outfit, or the pursuit of love. You can—and I can’t believe I’m saying this—have it all.
Scorpio: A homemade brunch date
You’ve been refining your cooking skills in quarantine, since you like to eat and you have the patience to make something delicious rather than merely serviceable. So if you’re having someone babely over for a socially distanced date, why not pamper them with some maple bourbon French toast with a dollop of mascarpone and warm cherry compote. Fuck, that made me hungry… See, that’s the kind of response you want—and are likely to get—from a date whom you can wine and dine with such aplomb. It’s a gesture of pampering excellence, and while Scorpios tend to grab more headlines for their mystique and sex appeal than their nurturing abilities, they are probably the most generous and loyal partners in the whole cosmos. And when you feed your dates a brunch this tasty, one can only imagine how incredible dessert must be. (Now I’m talking about sex.)
Sagittarius: A date out west
You’ve got a wandering spirit, Sagittarius, and I know you’re itching to roam. Roam you shall, centaur. I don’t care if you’re on dating apps, dating seriously, falling in love with a friend, married, married with kids, or what. Your next socially distanced date is with yourself and the yet untrodden soil of a nearby town you’ve never before visited. You don’t need it to be fancy. In fact, you prefer something authentic and off-beat. You thrive not on luxury but on experience and novelty, and on learning how different sides of you interact with new environments. The Sagittarian desire for freedom isn’t a selfish one. You’re not trying to escape responsibility or carelessly do whatever you want (maybe a little). What you’re really doing is clearing away the obstacles that interrupt a conversation with yourself. And ultimately, your appreciation for your own company is what makes you your own favorite date.
Capricorn: A drive-in movie date
Drive-in movie screenings are enjoying a renaissance in the age of COVID. And “renaissance” is an underused Capricorn key word, because you’re more famous for your ruthless efficiency than your nostalgia. But you are especially nostalgic, Capricorn. You appreciate traditions and norms because they anchor you in time and remind you of your own past. As the sign of adulthood, you’re children deep in your hearts. Not in that messy baby way where it’s difficult to eat spaghetti and wear white (although it is difficult to eat spaghetti and wear white), but in the way you never forgot what it smelled like to drive in your mom’s Oldsmobile growing up or how soft your childhood puppy Coco’s fur was. And so when it comes to dating in an era when so many norms are upended, you’re going to gravitate toward something sweet, simple, and newly popular after being out of fashion for some time. A drive-in movie is the perfect thing to make you forget there’s a virus at all. And, logistically, I guess you’re both in different cars? But you’re a Capricorn; I know you’ll figure that out.
Aquarius: A protest date
The uprisings around the country to resist and overthrow systemic oppression are very serious and necessary efforts. But you’re an Aquarius, so you already know all this. You’re involved in some way, and whatever your role is, it’s bringing you closer to other people. Social justice is just as personal for you as dating, and your individual relationships will depend on a shared value system, maybe more than for any other sign. Your next socially distanced date will weave in the activism you’re both likely already participating in, whether it’s handing out water at a protest, marching in a rally, or hosting a fundraiser. The Aquarian archetype (or one of them) is that of the detached, hyperintellectual alien, but you’re extremely invested in your identity as both an individual and part of a collective. Falling in love for you is never just about one person, but all of humanity.
Pisces: A date in your dreams
I gave you the coolest one, Pisces. I’ve been having intensely active and fanciful dreams since the pandemic struck, and for you, it must be all the more emotionally vivid and resonant. You fish are dreamers, living in the truth of imagination as an overlay onto reality, and as such, you’re connected with the unseen rhythms of desires that drive the major plotlines of our world. If you’re going on dates these days, or if your heart is with someone right now, chances are, you’re communicating with them in your dreams. That’s your socially distanced date, Pisces. It doesn’t matter if they aren’t literally present in your dreams, because what’s literally true has never been a limiting principle for you. Pay attention to your conversations with any romantic interests after you’ve spent time with them in your sleep. You’ll hear the echoes of jokes, emotions, and little phrases exchanged while unconscious. Was it a real exchange? Who cares. It’s magic. Enjoy it.
Graphic by Lorenza Centi.