ASK THE LEAGUE : How To Date Intelligently During The Pandemic

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The League answers your questions on if and when to break social-distance rules for romance, how to get more matches, and the right way to use emojis.

Shall We Get Physical?

I’ve met a wonderful guy on The League. We talk all the time, and I can see a future with him. Because of the Coronavirus, we haven’t yet touched. We both want to get physical, and I’m more than ready! (I haven’t had romantic contact since last year.) Can we kiss, touch and be physical while also protecting our health?


I feel you, Anonymous. As Sting sang in “Message in a Bottle,” you’re not alone at being alone. Millions of men and women are tired of pandemic-imposed dating rules. These days, America’s singles are like a giant high-school class: bored, sexually frustrated, and stuck inside for what feels like eternity.

I’m glad you met a good guy. As you probably suspect, the safest option would be to continue social-distance dating until there’s an effective vaccine, or until we’ve beaten the virus, like New Zealand has. That would be the smart choice for your health and for his.

If you’re considering getting physical with a new partner, be clear-eyed about potential consequences. Kissing, petting and sex is the exact opposite of social-distancing, which means you’d be putting yourself at risk. You could be carrying the virus, and so could he.

That said, it’s unrealistic to expect that everyone will abstain. Dating already carries risks—from unwanted lewd pics to STIs to heartbreak—yet we keep seeking our soulmates. If you decide to get up close and personal with your new crush, take some important precautions to minimize the added risk. 😁

A heads up: I’m a date doctor, not a medical doctor, but here’s a common-sense checklist to look at before breaking social-distance guidelines.

Consider physical contact with a new partner only if…

  • Both of you have healthy, non-compromised immune systems.
  • You’ve both recently tested negative for COVID-19.​ Caveats: Many experts question the reliability of the tests, a​nd even accurate results only reflect your health at the moment of the test. You or your new partner could contract the virus in your doctor’s waiting room, or at the grocery store on your way home.
  • You’ve both been diligent in mask-wearing and social-distancing.
  • Neither of you are showing symptoms.
  • Confirmed cases in your home state are on the decline, and/or the number of cases is not alarmingly high.
  • Neither of you are regularly exposed to large groups.​ For example, you both work from home, as opposed to doing business in a crowded setting.

If you can tick off all of these boxes, and you see potential for a great relationship, then you may want to consider collapsing those 6 feet. Your health is important, but so is your heart.

Glamour Shots

I see very appealing women in my daily League batch, but I’m not getting many matches. It’s frustrating! What’s the likely cause?


The possible culprit? Mediocre photos, starting with your featured shot.

If your first photo doesn’t hook a woman’s interest, she likely won’t look at the rest of your profile. She’ll just move on. A lead photo that doesn’t resonate with your audience—say, an unflattering selfie or a poorly-lit shot—can crush your results.

The fix is to have a vivid, magnetic portrait as your featured photo. ​A quality portrait can be a game-changer and has the following key elements. (This goes for both men and women.)

  • The image should be crisp, clear, and bright, ideally shot in natural light.
  • Zoom in close and shoot from the waist or chest up.
  • Look at the lens; eye contact will increase the sense of connection with your audience.
  • Dress well. Wear what you would for a first date. Red works great. (To the men: No sweats, no caps, no cargo shorts—no exceptions.)
  • Smile an authentic smile. (Leave the smoldering glares to Zoolander.) A real smile activates your ​orbicularis oculi,​ the circular muscle that surrounds each eye. When you fake a grin, it looks, well, fake because you can’t independently move those eye muscles. But when genuine emotions arise, those muscles activate, your eyes twinkle, and your face lights up.
  • No shots of you holding a fish, fellas. Women don’t want to date Quint from ​Jaws​.

My advice: Get multiple portraits taken by a professional photographer and ask a couple women in your life to help you choose the best of the batch. Place the winning photo in the lead-off slot on your League profile, and watch the matches begin to roll in.


Women rarely reply to my openers, and I’m not sure why. What’s the perfect, witty opener to send after you match?


The perfect opener doesn’t exist, Martin. It’s a myth, like the Tooth Fairy and funny Adam Sandler movies. If you’re hearing crickets, you may be using boring, overused openers such as “Hello,” “How’s your day?” or any variation of “Hi.” The best openers are personalized and relevant to the other person. After you match with a woman, check out her photos and bio and look for a topic she would enjoy discussing—say, her adorable French bulldog or her love of red wine. Then ask her a question or give her a compliment that relates to that topic, keeping things light: “Allison, I see that you’re a fellow pizza addict. OK, deep-dish or thin-crust?”

Witty, clever openers are great, but they’re not required. Don’t try to be perfect. Just be authentic to you while keeping the conversation relevant to her. And have fun!

The Digits

Some guys take forever to ask for my number. What’s a good way to move things forward without being pushy?


 Here’s how to make the move with charm. If he hasn’t asked you out or asked for your number after lots of back-and-forth, send this message: “So, how are you enjoying our conversation, on a scale of 1 to (999)-999-9999?” His digits will soon be headed your way.

To Emoji or Not To Emoji?

Should I use emojis when I text? Or is that not manly?


You want to be emoji-fluent. Now, women can emoji till the 🐄🐄 come home, but a man should take a less-is-more approach or else risk sounding like a tween girl. Here are six emoji rules for the gents:

1: End your first text with 😜 or 😘. In real life, winking falls somewhere between awkward and restraining order, but in emoji-land it sets a light, flirty tone.

2: Use emojis roughly every other text, and max out at two per message.

3: Only use 🍆 as a joke, never as a way to get sexual. And smiley faces are just cheesy. The exception? When drenched with irony, which makes them fun: “Well, looks like I need a root canal 😀.”

4: Puns pair well with emojis. She wants to grab drinks with you? Don’t just say yes—say “Dolphin-itely! 🐬”

5: Banish the tongue emoji. It doesn’t turn women on. It makes them think of slobber.

6: After a great first date, text her that you had a great time and would love to see her again, including two emojis that women love: 😈 + 😍. They remind her that you’re exactly what she wants: a little bit naughty and a little bit nice. 

Dating coach Connell Barrett is the founder of and author of the forthcoming book, ​Dating Sucks But You Don’t: The Modern Man’s Guide to Unstoppable Confidence and Romantic Connection​.

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