“What’s your status?” had an entirely different meaning about ten years ago.

It’s finally time to officially get back into the post-pandemic dating game. Let’s keep it honest: You should expect challenges. Folks have spent the last 15 months on various levels of lockdown and are eager to connect with potential love interests, sex buddies and flirting partners—but the dating game has changed. Despite the efforts to increase the percentage of Americans who are vaccinated, the overall impact of COVID-19 in 2021 is still a developing story. While the initial numbers look good, there are still concerns around virus transmission regardless of vaccination status—so, how does this impact dating? It means you still have to be careful.

When it comes to meeting new people, it’s often hard to ask questions that one believes may hurt, offend, or make one feel awkward. But asking those uncomfortable questions—Are you vaccinated?; When was the last time you got tested?; Are you dating other people?; Are you hanging out at unmasked events?—must become part of the new normal because your health, and the health of your loved ones, depends on it.

Dating pre-pandemic was already stressful enough. However, remaining silent when you have real-time concerns will only add another layer to your challenges, so speak up.

Struggling to find the words? Here are some tips on how to maneuver your hot girl/guy summer while putting yourself first.

Don't Be Afraid To Get Nosy

Ask the tough questions at the top of your interactions. Find out whether the person you’re interested is vaccinated, how often s/he gets tested and what type of general precautions are being utilized to maximize safety.

Set Firm Health Boundaries

Want to go in for a kiss or more? Determine the health criteria that will make you feel most comfortable. If you’re down as long as the person has had a recent COVID test or need confirmation of vaccination before you proceed, share that info upfront. This avoids confusion and potentially awkward intimate moments.

Get Tested Regularly

Whether you’re vaccinated or not, consider periodically taking COVID-19 tests if you are meeting lots of new people and socializing. This is a great way to protect yourself, your loved ones and the new folks that you’re connecting with.

Check-In Regularly

If you’re not exclusive with a partner, you must assume s/he, as the saying goes, is for the streets. You may be intimate on Monday night, but who has Wednesday or Friday? Make sure you’re regularly checking in with your dates about his/her health habits and exposure.

S. Tia Brown is a licensed therapist and life coach. She drops gems. Get your life skills and mental health glow up on @tiabrowntalks.