Long-distance date ideas: 7 ways to keep the spark lit from afar

Illustrator: Jo Yeh

New relationship energy is a delight—especially when you can get together with your new squeeze to share your favorite restaurants, flirt on the dance floor, or catch a movie together. But sometimes (particularly in COVID times), real-life face time just isn’t possible. Whether it’s an ill-timed business trip, a deployment overseas, or a worldwide pandemic that’s keeping you apart, here are some long-distance date ideas to keep your connection strong until you can see each other again.

1. Netflix and chill…from a distance. 

“Netflix and chill” isn’t just code for hooking up, it’s a surefire date idea. After all, it’s low-stress, budget-friendly, and super-cozy. Just pick a favorite movie, cuddle up under a warm blanket, and maybe share a bottle of wine while you watch. Ideal, right?

Well, while it might not be quite as cuddly, you can still watch together and chill, even from afar. Just make a movie selection on a streaming service you can both access, stock up on snacks and drinks, and use Zoom, Discord, or another VoIP service to chat and exchange sweet nothings.

Services like Teleparty also let you level up your long-distance movie watching. With Teleparty, you can sync your shows to start at the same time and pause on both screens simultaneously if one of you needs to get up.

2. Learn a new hobby. 

During that “getting-to-know-you” phase, taking a class together makes for a fun date night—and long-distance options abound.

Want to learn to draw? Check out illustrator Mo Willems’ series on YouTube, or try Zendoodling. YouTube also offers Take a free Yoga classes together on YouTube. Use Scratch to build a simple video game as a team, take a deep dive into a subject that interests both of you on Khan Academy or Coursera, or learn a new Romance language with Duolingo.

3. Take a virtual field trip.

If your idea of a great date is visiting an art exhibit or wandering through a museum, take heed: many institutions are offering free virtual tours and field trips. Sites like New Day Culture provide a one-stop-shop for virtual exploration, or try one of these ideas on for size:

  • The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History lets you walk through their building virtually, stopping to admire interesting exhibits.
  • California State University is offering virtual tours of fun spots ranging from Star Wars filming locations to ghost tours, plus “walks” through national parks.
  • Visit a virtual planetarium with Stellarium to check out how the night sky will look tonight at both your and your date’s locations. Trace the constellations, track planets, and get starry-eyed together.
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art is offering virtual tours of their exhibitions. Explore 5,000 years of art and share your thoughts and favorite pieces with your long-distance muse.
  • National Geographic gives you the chance to explore the world’s largest cave, Son Doong in Vietnam, complete with sound. Hear the water rushing through the caves while spotting shapes in the rock formations.
  • Visit the New England Aquarium to take virtual tours of fascinating sea life.
  • Dreaming of traveling together one day? For now, satisfy that urge with a virtual tour of the Great Wall of China.

4. Game on. 

When it comes to long-distance date ideas, the couple that plays together, stays together. Even if you can’t sit at the kitchen table and pull out your favorite board games, that doesn’t mean game night is out of the question. Some favorite board games have online versions to play together, like Codenames and Ticket to Ride. Others, like Yahtzee and Battleship, are easy to play when you’re apart, as long as you each have versions of the game.

And don’t count out video games, either. An MMORPG like World of Warcraft or an “us versus them” shooter like Fortnight brings you closer together while having a (literal) blast.

5. Try an online escape room. 

Escape rooms make a great date, especially if you can go with a group of friends. You get to search for clues, use your ingenuity, and get the thrill of victory when you finally beat the room. If you’re craving that kind of date in your long-distance relationship, good news: Many escape rooms have moved their puzzles online, post-pandemic.

There are different kinds of virtual escape rooms, ranging from free online puzzle-solving games to live experiences that take place in physical escape rooms, where the players control a “field agent” who examines the clues for them. You can play alone, as a pair, or in a larger group. Virtual escape games are not only a fun way for people to spend time together when they’re apart, but they can also be a cool way to meet each other’s friends and loved ones.

6. Start your own love story by sharing stories. 

If you like to bring out each other’s creative sides, writing together is a lot of fun. Use a free blogging site like WordPress or LiveJournal and set it to private, so only the two of you can see what you write. Then alternate writing chapters and reading what the other has added.

If fiction isn’t your thing, try co-writing a daily journal, sharing your thoughts, activities, and pictures while apart. This kind of journal will be lovely to look back upon someday.

Reading to each other is another option—after all, is there anything more soothing than having the person you love read you a bedtime story? Pick out a book you’ll each enjoy and procure a copy for each person, then alternate reading chapters or passages to each other. (If working through an entire book seems daunting, pick an intriguing short story collection or your favorite poetry instead.) Make an entire date out of reading to one another, or set aside 15 minutes at the end of your regular calls to find out what happens next.

7. Cook together. 

Making a romantic meal for your significant other is an early dating milestone that you might miss in a long-distance relationship. With a little creativity, however, you can replicate something similar online. Choose a dish that you’ll both enjoy to cook at the same time. Prepare your ingredients before your date starts, then prop your streaming device somewhere where you can watch each other prepare the dish as you chat over Zoom or FaceTime.

Got a competitive side? You can even make a friendly wager over who plated the dish best or finished more quickly. Once you’re done, sit down together and enjoy the meal. Candles optional, fun required.

Long-distance doesn’t need to mean lonely.

While many of us are still struggling with pandemic-caused separation, there are ways to alleviate some of the feelings of isolation. Getting creative with technology—and adjusting your expectations as to what tech can and can’t do—can foster emotional closeness, even across time and space!

Do you have any favorite activities that you do with loved ones that you can’t see as often as you’d like? Share them by emailing us at community@lovekeepler.com!

Date mindfully on keepler.

Keepler is a first-of-its-kind dating app that brings us closer to ourselves as we grow closer to one another.

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