I was always afraid of the concept of dating for many reasons. First and foremost, with my double major and heavy campus involvement, I’m a busy person who has no time to go out looking for a person to date. And then of course there’s the perpetually lingering fear of making sure that when I do find someone I want to date that I can do so safely with my food allergies. And to be quite honest, the college dating pool isn’t always filled with that kind of respectful people.
Which is why I ended up dating someone who has been a friend of mine for my first three years of college before we started dating. Honestly, it was a food allergy gal’s dream: he already knew I had allergies, I already trusted him, and we had a solid scientific conversation about allergies when we decided to start dating. Earlier this summer, I had a small group of friends that would go on outdoor masked adventures and we made the theme of the summer “Rule Number 1: Don’t Die” because of… you know… the everything going on in the world. Once I started dating my SO, we elaborated on the Rule #1 (like little nerds) and made subrules 1a- allergies, 1b- breathing (don’t want to break the asthmatic girl), and 1c- COVID and had a list of all the things we needed to do to ensure that I would be safe. And to be quite honest, it feels like being covid-safe means that we are already taking a laundry list of precautions any time we want to be maskless, so its an ideal time to not worry about allergies while dating!
For the past six months, the two of us have been mostly spending time together out of doors and wearing masks, keeping us safe from spreading allergens and COVID. We’ve gotten pretty creative with how we want to spend our dates; although for the most part we go on daily walks outside while playing Pokémon Go. Some highlights include carving pumpkins outside on picnic tables for Halloween, building snowmen, eating many picnic meals on the Green, and going on extended summer hikes (one time unintentionally wandering all the way to Maryland!). Almost anything can be a date if you try hard enough- tbh, we’ve probably had more dates going grocery shopping together than doing anything else.
Generally when we want to have a more proper date night, we get tested the day before (our college offers testing with results back in 24hrs), and then have a stay at home date consisting of making dinner and doing an activity together (usually game nights, LEGOs, movies, or some kind of craft project). This is the easiest way for both of us to not worry about rules 1a and 1c. If we make dinner together, not only is this a fun date night activity, but it also means that I know exactly what he’s eaten beforehand and we can kiss. Cooking together has also led to me getting to try safe versions of foods that I haven’t normally been able to eat out, like pesto, curry, and bagels.
With the hybrid college world we live in, it is hard to ensure that everyone in both of our households are following the same level of daily precautions to put us in a place where we feel comfortable opening our bubbles to another household of people. This has meant that there has been the occasional month long stretch where we must exclusively see each other outdoors to avoid any potential exposure. But, there was also a 2.5 week period this winter session where I was the only person in my apartment and I could join his household and see him every day (maintaining a once-weekly Covid test as a screening precaution). So although our time indoors and without masks has been limited, I can at least know we both cherish the opportunities that we do have to spend together. It’s very special to find someone that you can trust to be as cautious as you are with both COVID and food allergies, and I am lucky to have found that with my boyfriend.