In fact, recent events may actually be inspiring the onset of a remote dating revolution because of how easy it is to do, how much time it saves compared to IRL dates, and how many safety and health benefits it offers (which is super important right now).
Wondering how to get started? Welcome to your online-only dating guide, with all the tips you need to help you navigate the new normal of the dating world when using the most popular dating apps and sites.
Step 1: Choose the Best Dating Site
You may already have your go-to dating apps. But are they ideal for these new, socially distanced times?
Tinder, for example, may be great when you’re out and about on Saturday nights. But hookup and location-based apps may not be the best places to find people who have the patience for socially distanced dates. People on sites like Zoosk, Match, or OKCupid may be more receptive to getting to know you through screens until it’s safe to meet in person again. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but it pays to give some thought to your goals and the purpose of the app before wasting your time on the wrong platform.
Step 2: Choose the Best Video Chat Apps
You’ve probably used Zoom, FaceTime, or Skype by now. You may even have a favorite. But the one you use to talk to your boss may not be the best for your future sweetheart.
There are a few things to consider when deciding on the best video app for a virtual date. Logistical factors like price and time limitations are important, but you want to consider more ‘stylistic’ factors as well. Think about picture quality, backdrop options, camera and lighting features, and consistency. Will the video freeze on your face as you’re in the middle of a funny expression? Can it transform your bare wall into a mountainous landscape or rendering of the Seine River? After all, when choosing a restaurant for a date, you probably consider the atmosphere. Why wouldn’t you consider the same for a virtual date?
Step 3: Drop Your Nice Pants (No, not like that)
So maybe you have a head-turning pair of jeans or a fancy dress that never fails to impress your dates. Guess what? They’re no good here.
Adapting to virtual dating means shifting your focus to the parts of you that your date will actually, you know, see. So forget about pedicures, dress shoes or heels, fancy jeans or flowy skirts. It’s your upper body that will be doing most of the heavy lifting on a video date, so put your energy towards your hair, makeup, beard, glasses, jewelry, or whatever else you care about that will be appearing on camera.
Step 4: Assess Your Lighting Situation
Poor lighting is the bane of all that’s beautiful. Even the Mona Lisa wouldn’t fare well under the sad effects of a bare plaster wall and harsh fluorescents.
This doesn’t mean you have to hire a lighting designer. Just play around with your setup and read some expert tips about how to make yourself shine on a computer screen. Consider using backlighting, dimmers, string lights, candles, mirrors, and other simple hacks to bring out the most atmospheric parts of you and your space.
Step 5: Clean Up!
Obvious? Yes. Still worth mentioning? You bet.
You’re basically letting your date into your home, in some sense. There’s nothing worse than seeing dirty laundry or crusted dishes in the background of a video date. You may be tempted to clean only the apartment corner that will appear in your video, but be careful--next thing you know, after bragging about your art collection or view from the balcony, you could be giving your date a tour of the apartment. Be prepared with a nice, clean space, whether you think they’ll see it or not.
Step 6: Prepare Some Conversation Starters
Video dating is new to most of us. Naturally there will be some awkwardness--yes, even more than usual.
The best way around that is to come prepared with some icebreakers so that the date starts out on solid footing. It’s okay to acknowledge the strangeness of a video date, and can even be used to your advantage if you turn it into a joke, something like, “Sorry I’m late, [web] traffic was horrible getting here.” Otherwise, have some topics of conversation on hand, and be prepared to improvise a bit. For example, ask about the piece of art hanging behind your date, or the view out of their window--these not only show your interest but give your date a chance to tell a story and keep the conversation moving forward.
Step 7: Get Creative
What type of dates can you have with someone who lives far away? Surprisingly, the options are endless, because you can basically do anything as long as you can both do the activity in your own spaces while sharing the experience on video.
Step 8: Try Out Impressive Virtual Date Ideas
Here are 4 fun date ideas that you can do with anyone from anywhere:
- Cook the same meal together from your own homes and kitchens
- Happy Hour: meet for a 5:00 pm video call with a cocktail or beer in hand
- Watch a show or movie. Stream on the same service at the same time
- Go for a walk together from different locations while video chatting
Step 9: Put in the Effort
I know we told you earlier to forget the snazzy shoes or nice pants. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that a video date means you can approach it half-heartedly.
Virtual dating eliminates the face-to-face factor, which may feel impersonal or even ‘unreal’ at first. But the lack of distractions you’d have to fall back on in a real-life date--interruptions from waitstaff, background music--can also increase the sense of intimacy of a video date. Any aloofness or half-heartedness you exhibit will stand out. So despite how different it may feel, make sure that you’re still putting in an equal amount of effort as you would if you were dating these people in person. After all, it’s still a real date!
Step 10: Keep an Open Mind
Because online dating is so different from IRL dating, you will want to keep an open mind throughout the entire process. Things aren’t going to be how you’re used to them being a few months ago before things have changed. So go with the flow. A great way to do this is to limit your expectations so you can enjoy the process wherever it leads you (and to whomever it leads you to).