Dating Tips During Phase 2 Heightened Alert
Since Singapore announced that we’re moving back to Phase 2 Heightened Alert (P2HA) following the rise in new clusters, it’s the period of food deliveries once again. However, when it comes to dating and maintaining a relationship with bae, these new measures can be a big problem. This is especially so for couples who don’t have the privilege of living together. After all, romantic dinner dates are one way to keep us swooning over our partners from across the restaurant table.
We asked 10 Singaporean couples to share with us some dating tips and ideas to survive this P2HA without living together, based on their own experiences. Perhaps you’ll be inspired to try them out with your partner too!
1. “Trying out new things can keep the spark going”
Together for more than a year
“We started dating during Circuit Breaker last year, so [the announcement of P2HA] didn’t feel like a big change. I guess we just felt a bit sian since we cannot eat out anymore.
My most memorable date experience was when we went for the coast-to-coast hiking trail. My boyfriend planned the packing list, timing and checked the routes, while I thought of which spots to stop at and do picnics. Going on this hike had been on our bucket list for a long time.
We walked 31km and talked about everything under the sun — literally and figuratively. The date went on from 8am to 7pm, with breaks in between.
I felt happy that we had a new experience and managed to spend so much time together since I’m usually quite busy. I enjoyed it as much, or even more than our usual dates, because it’s just the 2 of us with no crowd and lots of peace.
The key thing is to not plan too much in detail on where to eat and the activities to do so that you can be flexible whenever the plan does not go well. Having several backup plans in mind would be good too!”
Tips for couples who are struggling during this period: “Setting some time aside for each other to text or call can help to feel like you’re still connected to your partner’s life. Trying out new things can also keep the spark going.”
— Ling Jia Hui, 23
2. “Remind your partner that you love them every now and then”
Together for 1 year and 1 month
“My boyfriend and I rarely go out together, so this P2HA wasn’t much of a difference to us. We spend most of our time in each other’s house.
During P2HA, we went to Universal Studios Singapore as people on TikTok were saying that it wasn’t crowded. My boyfriend and I love amusement parks but we’ve never been to one together, since we only met right before the pandemic hit last year.
Though the queues were shorter, we still had to wait up to 30 minutes for some rides. Not having eateries open inside USS was both a plus and minus. On one hand, we didn’t have to pay high prices for mediocre food and got to bring in whatever food we wanted. But when we got hungry and wanted to get something inside, only the overpriced snack carts were open. We also couldn’t remove our masks for photos.
However, the most important thing was spending time with my boyfriend and finally having fun at an amusement park with him. We enjoyed ourselves a lot and it was a very memorable day for me. As of now, we still go to each other’s house, though less often now because it’s not safe. Recently, we’ve been playing MapleStory together everyday.”
Tips for couples who are struggling during this period: “Remind your partner that you love them every now and then. Expressing your feelings for each other is a nice way to let them know that even though you can’t meet as much anymore, your relationship isn’t faltering. It’s [also] important to celebrate each other’s successes, even while apart. It really embodies how his success is my success and vice versa.”
— Kamie Kok, 23
3. “Keep an open mind to the things that constitute a date activity”
Kah Kit and his girlfriend’s dog, Haru
Together for nearly 3 years
“My partner and I brought her dog out to the dog pool at Wag N Wild. This was a spontaneous idea that my partner came up with. It was memorable because it was something different and also allowed us to spend time together to do something of our interest.
We played with my partner’s dog and taught it how to swim and play fetch. The date lasted roughly two hours, including travelling and drying our furry friend after the pool session. There was an entrance fee of around $30 per dog for the dog pool and 2 humans can enter for free.
I think it was something very enjoyable for both my partner and I as we got to interact with each other in a way that can bring out our different sides. Because of the circumstances that we were in, we felt that it was something fresh and we enjoyed it much more than our usual dates before P2HA.
I think the most important thing I’ve learned from this is to compromise and take the opportunity to try out activities you wouldn’t normally do. You both may stumble into something that you can bring forward when things are better again.”
Tips for couples who are struggling during this period: “Keep an open mind to the things that constitute a date activity. Honestly, even things like packing up each other’s rooms can become a date as you are still doing things together.”
— Lee Kah Kit, 25
4. “Make use of the current circumstances to your advantage”
Together for 10 months
“To be honest, nothing changed for us because we started our relationship during this pandemic. For us, we’ve always felt that you don’t have to physically meet your partner every day just to stay in love.
We booked a cruise to nowhere before Phase 2 HA happened. When the government announced the measure, we kept to our plan because having 25% capacity meant fewer people on board.
All we did was eat, sleep, swim and repeat. We also managed to enjoy most of the facilities that were still open because there was nobody around. Our meals were served directly to our doorstep, which felt like free room service. This was also great because we managed to make full use of our balcony stateroom by the sea, which we may not have if we were allowed to dine in.
People always say that couple trips are make or break. For us, the whole journey felt amazing because we got to maximise the time spent with each other away from our phones. Still, I would advise to be more careful of the places you go. We decided to go ahead with the cruise because of the multiple Covid tests we had to take that made us feel safe.
Distance also makes the heart grow fonder. We constantly grow excited to see each other for our next date because they don’t come by that easily anymore.”
Tips for couples who are struggling during this period: “Make use of the current circumstances to your advantage! Also, don’t forget to check in with your partner from time to time to acknowledge their feelings or worries if they have any.”
— Tan Yan Ling, 23
5. “It’s good to have space from each other once in a while to focus on yourself”
Handmade pasta that Rebecca and her boyfriend made from scratch
Together for 3 years
“We were okay [with the new Phase 2 measures] because we could still do other activities such as going for hikes. The most memorable date we had would be when we made handmade pasta together. At first, it was all sticky and messy, though it was fun to knead the dough and try new things. But with time and patience, we had ourselves some solid pasta!
I’d say yes again to homemade good food at a cheap price. I feel that dates do not always have to be planned. There are always many other options to try out, so it’s better to do things spontaneously.
This Phase 2 HA is not hard for us as we don’t meet often since we’re working. We only meet once or twice a week in general.”
Tips for couples who are struggling during this period: “It’s good to have space from each other once in a while to focus on yourself. Be open and ready to try new things, such as finding new hobbies you can both do together.”
— Rebecca Lo, 23
6. “Communicate your expectations of an ideal date and discuss the necessary compromises”
Together for 5 years
“My partner and I don’t really mind the new measures as long as we spend quality time together. We also live very near to each other.
My partner planned a date for my birthday, which happened to be the start of Phase 2 Heightened Alert. He booked a hotel and we spent the day in the room ordering room service and talking about future date plans. We even decided to buy a board game so that we could enjoy a good game after dinner.
I felt very recharged and more connected with my partner from this date. I would say it was much better than previous dates because we were focused on each other and had fruitful conversations. It was not so much about spending money on the hotel, but more of the time spent with each other in a nice environment. I think that we can recreate something similar in the future without spending much money.
I see the importance of reconnecting with my partner, especially when both of us are often busy with our work and social life. It is not easy to set aside a full two days just to enjoy quality time.”
Tips for couples who are struggling during this period: “Communicate your expectations of an ideal date and discuss the necessary compromises to be made. Subsequently, make plans and make it happen!”
— Erica Tan, 24
7. “As long as you put in effort, your partner will appreciate it greatly”
Together for 3 months
“I met my partner during Phase 2 Heightened Alert, so our whole relationship started off without us being able to dine in. We definitely were not happy when the news came out, but as sad it sounds, we’re already pretty numb to the situation.
If I were to name one of the more memorable dates, it would be one where we went out for a simple picnic date. I had mentioned to her that my internship would end early on a particular day and she planned a surprise at Botanical Gardens. She cooked for me, so all we had to do was buy some drinks and snacks. We got to spend some quality time together in the presence of beautiful scenery.
We played a card game that was meant for couples to learn more about each other which was pretty interesting as well. Before ending the date with watching a movie on an iPad, we got to enjoy the picturesque sky as the sun went down. For some reason, the date felt a bit more special. Maybe it was because more planning and thought had to go into the date as we had to work around all the restrictions.
I would gladly go on a similar date again. However, I really feel that it’s not that important what we do on a date; it’s the company that I enjoy.”
Tips for couples who are struggling during this period: “Surprising [your partner] with a date would score you some brownie points. Think outside the box! As long as you put in effort, I’m sure your partner will appreciate it greatly.”
— Syafiq, 23
8. “Look out for things that you both enjoy doing”
Together for 7 months
“My partner and I were quite disappointed when P2HA was announced. We did not meet often [previously] and only experienced around 2 to 3 dates outside.
The most memorable date was one that was not successful. We were trying to look up remote games that could be played on Steam, but we ended up spending 4 hours just trying to connect our computer. It was hilarious, but it sparked conversations of getting a play space of our own when we eventually live together.
We also drove around neighbourhoods with landed properties. Since my boyfriend is an architect and I used to have that profession as an aspiration when I was younger, we loved looking at houses. We took slow drives in the morning or late at night admiring them.
We usually heavily plan for dates. However with the new measures, we decided to just go with the flow. Sometimes, we don’t even mention that we’d like to meet, then surprise each other with a video call. It is a little different, but it was nice to know that my boyfriend thinks of me at random times of the day.”
Tips for couples who are struggling during this period: “Look out for things that you both enjoy doing! That way, you won’t have to feel as though you are compromising on the things you like or want to do.”
— Syuhada Subuki, 24
9. “Create a checklist of things you want to do together with your partner”
From left: Chie’s boyfriend, Chie, Chie’s friend and friend’s mother
Together for 2 and a half years
“Our most memorable date was playing mahjong together with my friend and her mother at her house. These games usually last 4 to 5 hours and there’s no budget required.
Not only do I enjoy playing mahjong, but I also felt warm inside seeing my boyfriend bond with my friend and her family. In fact, this has become a weekly Saturday night routine for the both of us.
As it always takes two hands to clap, communication is key to finding a sweet spot to an activity that both of you and your partner genuinely enjoy. Playing online games together also helped us during this period, as we occasionally play this game called Wild Rift together.”
Tips for couples who are struggling during this period: “Create a checklist of things you want to do together with your partner. New things like cooking a meal together, working out, or even just starting on a new drama can bring something fresh to the relationship.”
— Chie Dohi, 23
10. “Put in extra effort to make sure that you understand each other’s needs”
Together for 7 years
“My partner and I don’t really like crowded places or going out, so the “no dine-in” restriction didn’t bother us that much.
We had an impromptu date to have a picnic in the car. I brought a cooler box with juice and made sandwiches while he drove us to this empty parking lot at Marina Bay Sands. We wanted to sit outside the car but there were so many flies and it even started to rain, so we sat inside to eat instead. It was a little messy, though.
We watched a movie in the car while it rained outside. The rain eventually stopped, but it was a bit awkward because people could start walking and many peered inside our car. Since we were already watching our movie halfway, we didn’t care as much.
I’m not really a date person and neither am I good at planning, but there are still many ways to go around these measures such as having a picnic or going cycling together. There are also many articles online giving good suggestions on alternatives.
Tips for couples who are struggling during this period: “Put in extra effort to make sure that you understand each other’s needs and that they are met. It’s easy to do all that and give reassurance when you see them face-to-face. But when you cannot do so, you have to make up for it in other ways, be it through texts or calls.”
— Pamela Lim, 23
These SG Couples Have Shown Us That Dating During Phase 2 Heightened Alert Can Be Fun Too
While we’re still learning to adapt to the tough changes that this pandemic has brought, prioritising our relationship should remain important since it’s harder to meet. These couples have shown us that we shouldn’t restrict ourselves to the new measures and be open to new and fun ideas to go around them instead.
If you’re looking for more ideas beyond these suggestions, check out this list of 8 fun date ideas to try out during this 2-pax only period.
Responses have been edited for brevity and clarity.
All images courtesy of the interviewees.