For 26 years, I’ve stated the best way for single seniors to meet potential mates is to get off the couch and out of the house.

However, that advice hasn’t been useful over the past eight months during the pandemic. We’ve been quarantined and encouraged to stay home. So, how do singles meet new people?

Choices are limited. Most senior centers and libraries are closed.

And when we do go to a grocery store or places indoors, we must wear a mask. It’s difficult to check somebody out from a distance when faces are covered.

Internet dating has become the most useful dating tool in 2020. My email inbox is bombarded with online dating-site messages. An estimated 1,500 new dating sites have emerged this year.

But do seniors really want to click on sites with names such as “Cobble,” “Pokerface,” “Say Allo,” “IsMyGirl,” “Live,” or “Extreme Age Gap”? Most likely not.

As the number of online sites has increased, so has the number of scammers. Seniors are targets for scammers. Many seniors are lonely, which makes them vulnerable.

But let’s say a senior meets a prospective mate online, using sites like Match, eHarmony, or Plenty of Fish (POF). The advice from dating coaches has always been to meet face-to-face as soon as possible, to avoid wasting time on the wrong person.

But that thinking has changed. Sure, singles can still try to meet face-to-face (or should we say “mask-to-mask”?), but they need to ask themselves, “Is it worth the health risk?”

Before meeting “mask-to-mask,” should each person take a COVID-19 test and bring the results to the date?

On a first date, or any date, does each person wear a mask or gloves and place hand sanitizer or disinfecting wipes on the table? Does each show up with a thermometer and take his or her temperature and then show the results to the other person, proving he or she isn’t overheated?

You can probably forget about kissing (can we say Russian roulette every time?).

How about hugs? That’s always been a nice way to end a date when a kiss would be premature. Even hugs are risky. Yes, dating during the pandemic is a challenge.

How can senior singles feel safe meeting a stranger on a first date? Some are trying it, while respecting social distancing and mask guidelines.

People in established long-distance relationships where air travel is required to be together are being particularly challenged, especially if one person resides in a foreign country.

With the Canadian border having been closed, Americans and Canadians dating across the border but living apart probably haven’t seen each other in person for months.

Will senior dating get easier? Not likely any time soon. A former fraternity brother of mine, a highly regarded doctor, emails a coronavirus biweekly update, based upon the University of Washington’s IHME (Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation) data.

In September he emailed: “The data sees lots of trouble around Dec. 1 — worse than anything we’ve seen. Buckle your seat belts; we have a long journey ahead of us only to be avoided with effective vaccines.”

So, seniors, if you are going to meet in person, wear your mask, keep your distance, and save the hugs and kisses for later. And write and tell us how the date went.

Have questions?

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