Who wants a first date IRL? Doesn’t a virtual date seem the way forward? Think of savings from not travelling and spending for people you’ll likely not meet again. I have a bad track record for picking the wrong online dating profiles. Sex and the City made dating look fun, almost glamorous. People talk about Carrie’s apartment and shoe expenditure as unrealistic… what about their excitement for dates?
Despite my pessimism, dating isn’t all bad; first dates have a charm about them. The romantic in me likes to wonder whether the stranger I’m meeting may become a future life partner. But if we can just skip or help cut the bad ones – the dates that drag and feel awkward. Talking virtually beforehand might make us value meeting face-to-face more. Rather than quickly scheduling coffee or drinks after work, we better select who to open up to. Because I’ve shared my thoughts, dreams and ambitions way too many times with meaningless guys.
How to go on a virtual date: Look the part
As with any date, this is about confidence and feeling comfortable. Wear something that makes you feel sexy and like your best self. It’s probably tempting to not change out of lounge clothes and PJ’s, and I guess that could work if you and a date agree to this. I know how judgemental the dating world is – I wouldn’t feel happy about a guy not making an effort for a virtual date.
Of course, who’s to say you can’t wear slippers and pyjama pants (a PG first date doesn’t need to capture you past your top-half).
Set the mood
If you live with family members or flatmates, tell them what you’re doing prior so you don’t have embarrassing disturbances. No “Can you chuck down some toilet roll!” While a virtual date may seem less hassle than a real life one, the end mission is still the same: to find a future sex buddy, relationship, or someone to help keep you occupied and stop you thinking how boring you are away from work.
With the same end-goal, the same etiquette seems reasonable. Put your phone out of reach, avoid multi-tasking and stay focused on your virtual date.
Set-up your camera prior and consider lighting. If you’re chatting in the evening while there’s still light, it’s worth turning your lamp or light on anyway as your date may continue when the sky turns dark. Towards the end of a business Skype, I once practically sat in pitch black from where I was too invested in the conversation (and feeling lazy), to walk over to my light switch.
Have something to do
BBC News featured a TV segment on how a global pandemic changes dating. The piece shared advice from experienced video daters. One recommended having something to do, such as a virtual happy hour or cooking a recipe together. This helps to normalise the situation.
Usually at a restaurant, bar, mini-golf etc., you can fill silences using your surroundings. There’s opportunity to glance at a menu and ask about food; compliment the choice of bar and note the ambiance. By organising an activity, you can create that same connection. It’s less daunting when you have something planned – imagine a real-life date where you both meet and just stare at one another talking, no thing to head off to.
There are online questions, games, tests (the fun personality kind) you can ask each other. You can order delivery together and watch Netflix. Maybe you can ask a person what they usually do in the evenings and follow along (to a certain point).
Assess what you want from the date
What are hoping to get from going on a virtual date? Especially now while we’re unable to meet in person, it could be weeks until social distancing has lifted. If 2020 is the year you want a relationship, think about a date that can lead to many other video chats. What questions can lead to intimacy?
I think it’s important to ask yourself what your boundaries are. Virtual dating doesn’t have the same body language chemistry and overall interaction as real-dates, thanks to no physical contact. Think about the things you believe are interesting and important for a date to know. Perhaps skip coronavirus talk?
Heck, you can take your clothes off and pull out a dildo if that’s how you’re feeling.
Get sexy, if you fancy…
On a real-life date, when I’m beginning to fancy a guy, I’ll start grinning widely and flirting more boldly. In my head, I’ll picture the moment we’ll kiss… and we probably will. On video dates, you can’t kiss and hold hands – neither can you sit closer during your second bar stop.
But you can still flirt and have fun. Heck, you can take your clothes off and pull out a dildo if that’s how you’re feeling. Or, you can tease a little… reveal your cute silk PJ shorts (yes, you always wear slinky PJ’s… you tell them).
Why you should agree to a virtual date
After the lockdown notice, I went on my dating app and scrolled through the profiles apparently made within the past few days. Jokes about coronavirus and how staying alive is a main goal. I thought, what’s the point? Seriously, thousands are losing their lives, we’re trapped indoors – why bother online dating? I haven’t taken up painting, or baking; I’m certainly not going to spend my days saying hello, what hobbies are you now doing?
Lately however, I’ve realised that continuing to date can keep normalcy and make us feel less isolated. Plus, dating virtually may improve conversation – possibly more relaxed as your chatting at home. It’s something to look forward to and you never know – your ideal person may have signed up now their schedule is less busy and they have time to look. And when this is all over, you could have a strong and incredible connection that simply builds in person.
According to OkCupid data, the dating site’s engagement has greatly increased since countries have started shutdowns. 94% of their app question respondents said they’d continue to date. Apps such as Bumble have virtual dating tools so you don’t have to give away your number to video meet.
With our current situation encouraging us to reflect and evaluate, maybe this is the perfect moment to put yourself out there and arrange a video date or two. If I come across a guy I’m interested in, I will give it a go.
Have you had a first virtual date before, and would you presently organise one?