A global pandemic might have put paid to a lot of the things we take for granted in our daily life but not even COVID-19 can stop people looking for love. But in this weird new world what can we do to make dating as safe and successful as possible?
Actually some things shouldn't change. Honesty is the best policy, especially if you are using online dating sites to look for a diversion from lockdown life.
It's all very well posting a picture of you wearing skiing gear from that one and only ski trip you took with friends ten years ago but when your potential partner realises that while they enjoy the black run, you struggle on the nursery slopes it might make for an awkward conversation and potentially end any budding romance.
If you have a disability, be honest about that too. You might be concerned that your disability might put someone off but if you are looking for a serious relationship you need to find someone who understands that you may be limited in some ways and may need support. Hopefully they will soon discover that any differences or limitations don't mean you can't enjoy life to the full, with some adaptations.
I have a variety of health conditions including Lichen Sclerosis which affects my genital area and while embarrassing I feel I want to be open about so that eventually it loses the stigma attached to it. Luckily my partner is extremely understanding.
Hiding the fact you are neuro-diverse, an amputee or have a chronic fatigue condition, shaving years off your age, or adding inches to your height might seem like a good plan at first but there will be no way to hide your deceit if you finally meet in person.
Talking of which, meeting in person can be tricky during a pandemic. I used to advise people to meet in a public place like a pub or cafe for a quick drink or coffee which can be extended into dinner or a nice long chat over cappuccinos if there is a spark.
But so many of our usual options are not available to use thanks to the global Coronavirus pandemic and depending on the rules in your area it might be that your only option is an outdoor meet-up.
Dusk in your local woodland might sound romantic but could also be very dangerous if your date turns out to be less than lovely. Don't put yourself at risk of robbery or even rape.
Choose a busy area with plenty of daylight hours left. If possible, take a friend as a chaperone initially, or ask them to observe from a distance at least until you can send them a subtle thumbs up to let them know you are OK. At the very least tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back and arrange for them to call or send a message so you can let them know you are safe.
If you use mobility or other aids make sure you suggest meeting in an area you know you can access independently and explain to your date what your needs are. If you need to be near toilets, need to avoid steps or hills or need to bring a carer or an assistance animal or will need to sit down regularly, say so. Start as you mean to go on.
Thankfully these days dating sites are not a one size fits all thing - you can find a dating site to suit almost any specialist interest or requirement. Whether you are looking for paraplegic dating sites or dating sites for the deaf you will find specialist sites which could cut out half of the hard work looking for someone who has a similar disability or who is more than happy to date someone differently abled.
So you've met someone you have clicked with online on a site like https://www.singledisabled.com/ and you've found a safe and convenient place to meet.
Don't forget to check the rules in that area - do you need to wear a mask and is there a set "social distance" you need to stick to? If you are exempt from wearing a mask because of your disability maybe let your prospective date know. And if you have trouble understanding someone when they are wearing a mask maybe let them know that too.
Although it's wise to let your date know about your disability, don't let it become the biggest part of your conversation. There is such a thing as TMI (too much information) and its important to let your personality shine through and to get to know the person you are chatting to or meeting with and let them get to know you too. Then all you need is a little luck and love may blossom.