Romance in the Age of COVID
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 emotionally.

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.

Minimizing Risk

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
say they’re 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 post-pandemic.

say personality is more important than it was before the pandemic
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
Virtual Sex

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 pandemic
think virtual hookups are sexy
say they’ve hooked up virtually during the pandemic
Mental Health

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 ever
say they’ve been more supportive and understanding of others on Grindr during the pandemic
Sexual Health

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 ever
who were taking PrEP before COVID say they’ve continued taking it
plan on making up for lost time by hooking up more than usual after the pandemic
Official Guidelines

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 with 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 have symptoms.
  • Avoiding kissing, and avoiding being close to each other without masks, are two of the most effective ways to prevent transmission.

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 sex.
  • 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 longer infectious.
  • 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 contacts:
    • 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. Click here 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 others.

Having antibodies against the virus that causes COVID-19 or a prior positive diagnostic test does not mean definite immunity. 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 the CDC’s website.
  • If you’ve been exposed to someone with COVID-19, avoid close contact with anyone outside your household and follow guidance about how to prevent exposing others. People exposed to COVID-19 should get tested for the virus using a swab or saliva test.
  • 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]. 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 right now. 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.

This information was originally published on

  • 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.

For more information on COVID-19 vaccines, click here and here.

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 general.

  • HIV: Condoms, taking pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and having an undetectable viral load all help prevent HIV. For more information, click here.
  • Other STIs: Using condoms helps prevent other STIs. For more information on STIs, click here.
  • 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, click here.