Sex & dating look a bit different during a pandemic...
Love has always been complicated, especially for the queer
community. On top of the inherent challenges of being queer in a
straight world, the COVID-19 pandemic has added some new hurdles
to the sex & dating landscape, cutting us off from one another and
from our hard-earned traditions and safe spaces. Nevertheless, the
queer community has done what it’s always done when faced with a
challenge: adapted, evolved, and grown stronger.
We asked 10,000 Grindr users in the U.S., U.K., Brazil, Mexico and
India about how their behaviors and expectations have changed
since the pandemic’s onset and found that, despite all the
loneliness of a year spent in isolation, romance isn’t dead. In
fact, the opposite might be true. The Grindr community appears to
be using this time to dig deeper into their core values: what they
want from a partner, what their comfort zone looks like in a
changed world, and how to stay healthy—physically, sexually, and
Read on for more on how Grindr users have adapted to romance in
the age of COVID, as well as our COVID sex & dating safety
guidelines created in partnership with
Building Healthy Online Communities (BHOC)
and featuring guidance from a range of health experts. If you’re
not meeting up, you’re not alone. If you are, you owe it to
yourself and your community to heed expert-recommended ways to
minimize risk. Either way, we’re here to help you stay informed,
stay safe, and stay connected.
Experts agree that the best way to reduce the spread of COVID is
to stay home, pleasure yourself, minimize contact with others, and
use apps like ours to stay connected for fun, flirty, and even
kinky times without meeting in person. But those same experts have
acknowledged that some people are still going to choose to meet up
for sex, dating, and beyond despite the risks of doing so during a
pandemic. If you do decide to meet up, there are ways to lower
your risk—limiting partners, having frank conversations about
COVID safety, and wearing a mask if you hook up are just a few of
the precautions experts have recommended.
While we know that COVID-19 vaccines are very effective
at protecting us from getting sick, it’s not yet known how well
the vaccine works at preventing spread to others. It is very
common to transmit coronavirus to others without being sick.
say discussing COVID safety helped them make a decision
about whether or not to meet up with someone
say they’ve watched more porn
say they’ve been more likely to
try new socially distant ways of meeting up
more interested in a long term relationship than they
were before the pandemic
say they’ve hooked up with a mask on
In a socially-distanced world, virtual connection reigns supreme.
And while audio and video chat use has increased since the onset
of the pandemic, good old-fashioned text chat is still number one.
As people have slowed down and taken the time to get to know each
other, a newfound appreciation for personality has emerged. Are
they funny? Do they like thai food? Are they familiar with Lady
Gaga’s discography? Here’s hoping this trend sticks around
say personality is more important than it was before
say that quarantine led them to
chat with folks they otherwise wouldn’t have
say talking about COVID has been an
easy way to start conversations
As pandemic life has become the new normal, people have gotten
creative with how they ease tension and get off. Trading pics and
vids is a no-brainer when a meetup is off the table, and nearly
half of the Grindr users surveyed said they’ve hooked up
virtually. Unlimited data plan, anyone?
say trading pictures and videos on Grindr helped them
get off during the pandemic
of users say their sex drive has increased during the
think virtual hookups are sexy
say they’ve hooked up virtually during the
The emotional toll of the pandemic has been a doozy for just about
everyone, making self-care more important than ever. And while
Grindr users are doing a great job of prioritizing their own
mental health, they’re not stopping there—they’ve also become more
supportive and understanding of others on the app. Here’s to a
kinder Grindr in 2021 and beyond.
say they’re focusing on their mental health more than
say they’ve been
more supportive and understanding of others on Grindr
during the pandemic
When it comes to health and wellness, COVID has received the
lion’s share of attention over the past year. But the Grindr
community hasn’t let that distract them from maintaining their
sexual health as well, whether that has meant keeping with their
PrEP regimen or continuing to get tested regularly. Keeping up
with those habits is more important than ever—especially for those
who plan on making up for lost time after the pandemic is over.
say they’re focusing on their sexual health more than
who were taking PrEP before COVID say they’ve continued
plan on making up for lost time by hooking up more than
usual after the pandemic
As Grindr users have been adapting and evolving in response to the
pandemic, the information available to them about how to protect
themselves from COVID in matters of sex and dating has also been
in a constant state of evolution. With that in mind, we partnered
Building Healthy Online Communities (BHOC)
to compile the latest expert recommendations, with a focus on
queer sexual health.
You can get COVID-19 from a person who has it, especially by
being physically close to that person.
The virus spreads through particles in the saliva, mucus, or
breath of people with COVID-19, even from people who don’t
Avoiding kissing, and avoiding being close to each other
without masks, are two of the most effective ways to prevent
We still have a lot to learn about COVID-19 and sex.
The virus has been found in the semen and feces of people with
COVID-19, but it isn’t known if COVID-19 can be spread through
vaginal or anal sex.
Other coronaviruses do not easily spread through sex. This
means sex is not likely a common way that COVID-19 spreads.
However, close contact during sex makes exposure through other
means, including kissing, very likely.
You are your safest sex partner.
Masturbation will not spread COVID-19, especially if you wash
your hands (and sex toys) with soap and water before and after
The next safest partner is someone you live with.
Having close contact—including sex—with only a small circle of
people helps prevent spreading COVID-19.
You should avoid close contact—including sex—with anyone
outside your household.
If you do have sex with others outside of your household, have
as few partners as possible and pick partners you trust. Talk
about COVID-19 risk factors, just as you would discuss PrEP,
condoms, and other safer sex topics.
Ask sex partners about COVID-19 before you hook up.
Do they have symptoms or have they had symptoms in the
last 14 days? Most people with COVID-19 have symptoms, but
even people who have no symptoms are also infectious.
Fever, cough, sore throat, and shortness of breath are
symptoms to ask about. But again, asking about symptoms is
not a perfect way to know whether someone has COVID-19.
Have they been diagnosed with COVID-19 using a nasal swab
or saliva test? People who have recovered from COVID-19 at
least 10 days from the day their symptoms started and who
have not had fever for at least three days are likely no
If you usually meet your sex partners online or make a
living by having sex,
consider taking a break from in-person dates. Video dates,
sexting, subscription-based fan platforms, sexy “Zoom
parties,” or chat rooms may be options for you.
If you decide to have sex outside of your circle of
Closely monitor yourself for symptoms.
Consider getting a swab or saliva test for COVID-19 on a
more frequent basis (monthly or within five to seven days
of a hookup). Call your health department or medical
provider for information on where you can get tested.
Take precautions interacting with people at risk for
severe COVID-19 illness such as people over 65 years of
age or those with serious medical conditions. Medical
conditions include lung disease, moderate to severe
asthma, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, kidney disease,
liver disease, cancer or a weakened immune system (for
example, having unsuppressed HIV or a low CD4 count).
Be vigilant with face coverings and healthy hand hygiene
to minimize risk to others.
Kissing can easily pass COVID-19. Avoid kissing anyone
who is not part of your household or circle of close contacts.
Rimming might spread COVID-19. Virus in feces may enter
your mouth and could lead to infection.
Wear a face covering or mask. Maybe it’s your thing,
maybe it’s not, but during COVID-19 wearing a face covering
that covers your nose and mouth is a good way to add a layer
of protection during sex. Heavy breathing and panting can
spread the virus further, and if you or your partner have
COVID-19 and don’t know it, a mask can help stop that spread.
Make it a little kinky. Be creative with sexual
positions and physical barriers, like glory holes, that allow
sexual contact while preventing close face to face contact.
Masturbate together. Maintain distance and wear a mask
to reduce risk.
Condoms and dental dams can reduce contact with saliva,
semen or feces
during oral or anal sex.
to find out how to get free safer sex products.
Washing up before and after sex is more important than ever.
Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Wash sex toys with soap and warm water.
Disinfect keyboards and touch screens that you share with
Having antibodies against the virus that causes COVID-19 or a
prior positive diagnostic test does not mean definite
Use test results with caution in helping you make decisions
about sex, since they’re not perfect.
A positive antibody test for the virus that causes COVID-19
may indicate prior exposure, but it does not mean you are
immune from reinfection.
A prior positive diagnostic test (nose swab or saliva) means
you have had COVID-19 and may be less likely to be
re-infected, but it isn’t known how strong that protection is
or for how long it lasts.
Be cautious in using these tests to make decisions about who
you have sex with and what kind of sex you have since antibody
test results are not definite proof of immunity.
If you start to feel unwell avoid kissing, sex, or any
close contact with others. You can find a list of symptoms on
If you’ve been exposed to someone with COVID-19, avoid
close contact with anyone outside your household and
about how to prevent exposing others. People exposed to
COVID-19 should get tested for the virus using a swab or
If you or your partner have a medical condition that can
lead to severe COVID-19 illness, you may also want to skip sex.
If you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, go into quarantine.
That will help prevent spread of disease that can occur before
you know whether or not you’ve been infected. Stay home, monitor
your health, and follow directions from your state or local
health department. [Read more from CDC.gov]. Talk with your partners and other close contacts about your
plan to start or stop quarantining.
Best option: Continue PrEP as normal
Many people may be wondering whether they should continue to
take PrEP if they’re social distancing and not having sex
The PrEP team at
San Francisco AIDS Foundation
recommends keeping up with your PrEP routine, even if you’re
not hooking up with anyone right now.
Taking daily PrEP is effective and safe, and continuing your
regimen as normal will make it easier to jump back into your
sex life after the pandemic ends.
Another option: Stopping PrEP
If you do choose to discontinue PrEP, there are ways to do it
safely. First, contact your PrEP healthcare provider and let
them know you’d like to stop taking PrEP. Follow their
guidance on how to stop PrEP—they will advise you on how many
days to continue taking PrEP after your last sexual encounter.
Another option: Switching to PrEP 2-1-1
Switching to PrEP 2-1-1 isn’t recommended if you’re already
taking daily PrEP and have not received counseling on this
dosing strategy. If you are interested in switching, discuss
this option with your PrEP provider.
PrEP 2-1-1 is only effective for people having anal sex. It is
not effective for people having receptive vaginal or front
hole sex. At this time, there is not enough evidence to
support 2-1-1 dosing with Descovy.
You can learn more about PrEP 2-1-1 here.
When you can, get vaccinated. Getting vaccinated is
important for people who’ve never had COVID-19 as well as
those who have already been infected and recovered.
Vaccines don’t provide instant protection. It can take several
weeks to provide immunity. That means you could still get
infected right after getting vaccinated. While we know that
COVID-19 vaccines are very effective at protecting us from
getting sick, it’s not yet known how well the vaccine works at
preventing spread to others. It is very common to transmit
coronavirus to others without being sick.
While it may go without saying, in addition to taking steps to
protect yourself from COVID during sex, you should also continue
the usual precautions you take to protect your sexual health in
HIV: Condoms, taking pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)
and having an undetectable viral load all help prevent HIV.
For more information,
Other STIs: Using condoms helps prevent other STIs. For
more information on STIs,
Pregnancy: Reproductive health services—as well as
fertility services, prenatal care and cancer screenings—may be
covered by your insurance company. Providers may be able to
help you without an in-person visit. Planned Parenthood also
provides many services: For more information,