Sex & Relationships

Pre-10 p.m. Dating Ideas That Will See You Through Local Lockdowns

Because there's only so many times you can walk around a park.

Simon Ritzmann/Getty

Dating can be tough at the best of times, but dates during the pandemic are a whole different ball game. When the government first announced a national lockdown on March 23 many daters put their pursuit of love on hold. But, with local lockdowns set to continue, it might be time to rethink your approach.

Dating apps reported a rise in people looking for partners online over the summer. These claims are supported by YouGov's findings: 18 to 24 year olds are the least likely age group to give up on dating during the pandemic; while a quarter of that age group said they're now swiping more.

When you can’t fall back on the usual drinks at the pub date, making a plan can be a little daunting. However, just because you have to keep COVID-19 restrictions in mind, doesn’t mean you can’t get creative. So, as we enter what looks to be a socially-distanced autumn, here are a few pre-10 p.m. dating ideas that move beyond a walk in the park.

Outdoor Cinema & Theatre

While many cinemas and theatres remain closed, independent outdoor events have popped up in their place. You can watch Shakespeare in the park or go to a drive-in cinema with your date and feel like Sandy from Grease. This may not be dating as you know it, but it will probably be all the more memorable and romantic.

Bike Ride & Takeout Coffee

There’s only so long you can take to drink one pumpkin spice latte, so to avoid a coffee date seeming like a brush-off – or downing several caffeinated drinks in quick succession – make a day of it. Get on your bikes, cycling to a new coffee spot, pick up pastries en route, and take the time-pressure off with your takeouts in the park.

Next-Level Picnic

I don’t think I’ve ever had as many picnics as I did over summer 2020. So you'll need to take things to the next level for a date-worthy outdoor spread. Think best blankets, favourite foods, several courses, a drinks chiller and actual wine glasses... It will be worth the effort.

Country Hike

You don’t need to sit opposite your date in a restaurant to get to know them. Drive or take a train out to the countryside for a long walk – you'll get to know a new area, as well as your date. Fresh air always does wonders for conversation, it'll be a welcome escape from the city, and you can stop off for a hot chocolate or a pint along the way.

Pumpkin Picking & Carving

It’s almost spooky season, which means pumpkins galore. Visiting a pumpkin patch together makes for a fun activity, plus it'll get you some cute Instagram content. Take your pumpkins home to carve, and if you’re the competitive type, see who’s is scariest at the end of the night.

See An Exhibition

Some galleries and museums have opened their doors to limited guests, so chat about what you both like and book in ahead. Alternatively, there are virtual exhibitions you can see too, which still make for a good way to get to know each other's creative interests.

Day At The Beach

A walk on the beach on a fresh, bright autumn day, followed by a drink in a sea-view pub ticks a lot of boxes. Unlike the height of summer 2020, you'll be unlikely to encounter crowds of people, and you can indulge in the romance of getting wrapped up for the walk.

Play Games

Going out is fun, but you don’t know someone's true colours until you get them around a Monopoly board. Board games are perfect to play as a two, or a great way to introduce your date to your flat mates. Don't forget the essential gaming snacks to fuel your competitive spirit.

Cocktail Hour

As the 10 p.m. curfew doesn’t allow for extended evening drinking sessions, it's a good excuse for heading out early and taking advantage of the many cocktail hours on offer. Alternatively, brush up on making your own at home – there are plenty of recipes online, or see Stanley Tucci's excellent IGTV for tips.