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What is Fauci-ing? This 2021 Dating Trend Is All About Safety

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Dr. Fauci

Dr. Fauci inspired new dating term Fauci-ing

First, there was “mask fishing” — or posting a selfie in a face mask on your dating app profile. Then, there was “maskerading” — when someone pretends to care about mask-wearing and general COVID-19 safety just to win you over. And it would be impossible to forget about “apocalypsing,” or getting serious too quick by treating every relationship like it might be your last. But the latest in 2021 dating trends (coined by Plenty of Fish) is “Fauci-ing,” which also has strong ties to safety during the pandemic. So, what is Fauci-ing? Let’s put it this way: odds are, you’ve either done it or been Fauci’d yourself.

The term was inspired by none other than Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and U.S. President Joe Biden’s chief medical advisor. Fauci has been leading the charge in addressing and communicating safety guidelines around the COVID-19 pandemic — and when informed about the trend in an interview with “Axios on HBO,” he offered his empathy for singles trying to find love in the age of a worldwide pandemic.

“It would be really frustrating to essentially semi-isolate yourself at a time when you’re trying to explore social interactions with people,” he said in the interview. “That leads to a considerable amount of stress and maybe even depression on the part of some people.”

Here’s everything you need to know about the latest pandemic dating trend.

What is Fauci’ing?

This term refers to one of two things: either declining to date someone because they don’t take COVID-19 seriously, or breaking up with them for the same reason.

Let’s say you’ve been exchanging flirty texts with someone and they mention that they don’t feel the need to wear a mask on your upcoming date. If that’s a dealbreaker for you and you cancel the date, you totally Fauci’d them.

Or, let’s say someone you’ve gone on a few dates with insists on hanging out indoors or tries to kiss you. If you break it off with them because you feel like you have very different ideas of what is and isn’t safe during the pandemic, that’s also Fauci’ing.

Who knows? You could very well have been Fauci’d without even knowing it. For example, if someone you were chatting with on a dating app match started noticing during your convo that you’re taking significantly more or fewer safety measures than they are, they might’ve cut their losses and ghosted.

Is Fauci’ing common?

According to a survey conducted by Bumble, 60% of its users say the coronavirus was a primary topic of discussion in 2020. Meanwhile, Tinder reported that mentions of masks and masked meet-ups increased nearly 10-fold during 2020. A whopping 85% of Bumble users indicated that they were interested in having in-person dates but only if they were socially distanced, while the other 15% admitted that they would rather keep the connection virtual for now. And the majority of singles on OkCupid — 56% of users — say it’s important to them that their date wears a mask when they first meet.

Clearly, personal safety during the pandemic is still at the top of daters’ minds — which means that Fauci’ing will probably continue to be common well into 2021. I predict that as the vaccine becomes more widely available, daters may begin to Fauci people if they’ve refused to get vaccinated.

Is Fauci’ing a bad thing?

While I generally don’t advise writing people off too quickly, Fauci’ing may not be such a bad thing. Refusing a date because of someone’s height or the car they drive is one thing, but cutting ties because they’re putting you at risk for illness is another thing entirely. There’s no reason to take your chances with someone who isn’t taking their safety — or yours — seriously.

Ideally, you want to find someone who shares similar values. And one of the only silver linings of the coronavirus pandemic is that it’s arguably made that much easier to assess. So, don’t be shy — ask your dates about what safety precautions they’re currently taking, and be forthcoming in sharing yours. Better yet, have that convo before you even make a plan to meet up. That way, you can make sure you’re on the same page. And if not? If you really like them and think you’re compatible, there may be a way to strike a compromise so you both feel comfortable. If they aren’t willing to meet you halfway, and/or make you feel bad about your personal safety measures in any way — whether making fun of your concerns or downplaying them — then it might very well be time to Fauci them.

How to deal with Fauci’ing:

I’m a big proponent of honesty from the get-go. The sooner you can have these conversations about safety, the better — that way, you don’t waste each other’s time if you don’t see eye to eye. If you’re using apps, consider making your values clear right within your bio/profile. Once you’ve started messaging with someone, you might start putting your feelers out by asking them how they feel about masks, social distancing, etc. before meeting up. Ask them if they’ve been tested recently, and what their status was. You could also inquire about their living situation, whether they work from home, and whether or not they’ve been socializing. All of these factors will give you a sense of how much potential exposure they’ve had. Don’t be afraid to communicate your boundaries, either — for example, if you’re not comfortable dining indoors, would like to keep your masks on while taking a walk outside, or want to stay 6 feet apart during a picnic.

If you start suspecting that someone you’re either interested in dating or have already been seeing isn’t taking the same precautions, it’s up to you whether or not you think it’s worth addressing before Fauci’ing them. For instance, you might say: “Hey, I’ve noticed that we seem to be on different ends of the spectrum when it comes to protecting ourselves from the virus. I’d like to continue seeing you, but I’m not willing to compromise my health. How do you feel about taking this slow and getting to know each other virtually until things become a little safer?” However, if it feels like they’re either minimizing or disrespecting your concerns, then you should feel totally free to Fauci them ASAP.

Talking about safety may not seem super romantic, but it’s a necessary component of dating in the COVID era. After all, you deserve to find someone who’s just as cautious as you are. Remember: you can always ease into those IRL meetups by starting to form a connection over Zoom first.

And there’s a bright side to all of this as well. Even though the pandemic has seriously slowed down the progression of many relationships — and barred a lot of physical intimacy — pumping the brakes has allowed people to really get to know each other on a deeper level before committing.