Connect Before You Meet With Zero Dates

Men's Dating

Connect Before You Meet With Zero Date’s Video Speed Dating Events

Jordan Sprogis

Written by: Jordan Sprogis

Jordan Sprogis

Jordan has been writing professionally for the better half of a decade, and she has bylines on various verticals that highlight the psychology and sociology of creating personal relationships. Despite recently tying the knot herself, Jordan remains deeply engaged in thoughtful conversations about relationships and dating with her friends. Now, she's excited to extend these dialogues to the realm of

Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

Reviewed by: Sheena Holt

Sheena Holt

Sheena Holt comes to DatingAdvice with a BA in English and creative writing. Sheena's work has appeared in numerous literary and culture publications, including Lithium Magazine. Her work as an editor and writer has taught her a lot about the ins-and-outs of dating in the 21st century. As Managing Editor for, she has interviewed hundreds of dating professionals and relationship experts. Sheena also enjoys writing long-form fiction in her spare time to keep her storytelling skills sharp.

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The Short Version: It feels like we’re at the cusp of a new era where traditional dating apps are grappling with the current dating landscape. Deception, ghosting, and lackluster conversations have become so commonplace that people have started searching for fresh alternatives. Enter The Zero Date, a weekly, 30-minute, video-based speed dating app in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Co-Founder Amal Assioua shared with us how The Zero Date aims to blend the charm of meet-cutes with the convenience of dating apps all into one platform.

I’ve always hated the saying, “There are plenty of fish in the sea.” While it’s supposed to be an encouraging sentiment, the thought of going through a thousand people to find the one I’d spend the rest of my life with overwhelmed me. 

Every person I met required I invest time in them, which was always a risk (and, to be honest, sometimes it was time I wished I could get back). But I know I’m not alone in this.

The typical American online dater spends about eight months and 11 days swiping through nearly 4,000 profiles before finding a partner. A separate study reveals almost 7 out of 10 online daters experience deception as commonplace, often feeling more frustrated (45%) than hopeful (28%).

A woman on a video call with a man holding a glass of wine
No more awkward dinners: The Zero Date is the date before the date.

So many people who are simply craving connection have found themselves in that situation time and time again. That’s exactly why The Zero Date was started — it’s a weekly, video-first online speed dating app for San Francisco and Los Angeles singles.

If that sounded like a mouthful, I hear you. But that’s only because it’s the first of its kind. Co-Founder Amal Assioua succinctly describes The Zero Date as “speed dating but speedier” — with events launching every Monday at 7 PM (PST), offering up to six brief dates from the comfort of your home.

Harnessing Chemistry with a Video Call

“All you need to sacrifice is 30 minutes a week to find love.” That’s what the Zero Date website says. It’s a tough statement to argue with, especially when it only takes seven seconds to make a first impression, and most dinner dates are about an hour and a half long.

Zero Date aims to simplify online dating by prioritizing face-to-face interactions over text, where nuances like tones, cues, and expressions are nearly impossible to interpret. 

Screenshot from The Zero Date website displaying features
Every Monday at 7 PM, come to The Zero Date app to meet up to six potential matches.

“Our goal was to condense the online dating experience into what’s most important — the initial few minutes of meeting someone — because that’s when you see if there’s potential,” Amal said. “The more face-to-face meetings you have, the more likely you’re going to meet your person, or at the very least, speed up the process of meeting in person.”

The term “zero date” was coined by podcaster and entrepreneur Christina Wallace when she likened online dating to reading resumés: They were impressive on paper but lacked any substance.

The method is simple: Invite someone for one drink for one hour, with one question to answer: “Would I like to have dinner with this person?” If you want an alternative to in-person zero dates, The Zero Date platform is for you.

30 Minutes May Be All You Need

The Zero Date is pretty straightforward. Every week, at 7 PM, folks from San Francisco and Los Angeles hop on their phones, fire up the app, and engage in first-time chats with strangers. 

The platform also helps guide users through high-energy conversations, each lasting five to eight minutes. Within an hour, users can connect with up to six people, with short breaks in between to take a break and prepare for the next interaction. 

And when you chat with someone you connect with, give them a ‘heart.’ If it’s mutual, The Zero Date will automatically exchange your contact information so you can set up an in-person date.

Screenshot from The Zero Date website displaying how to give a 'heart'
Just like IRL speed dating, you’ll be matched if you both show interest in each other.

“There is absolutely no messaging whatsoever, so your only options are face-to-face. You’re thrown into the deep end,” Amal said. “In traditional dating, you often spend weeks exchanging texts, building chemistry, and maintaining a cool facade. But meeting someone randomly at a coffee shop feels less formal and pressured, and I think the same approach applies to dating using Zero Date.”

If you want to know what actual users think, here’s a sneak peek at a few glowing testimonials:

  • “That was so fun! Quality folks!”
  • “This is a great app, much better than online dating because people actually show up and communicate. Loved it!”
  • “The Zero Date is an incredibly easy to use, fun, and refreshingly unique platform. I love the concept. I’ve been on 16 dates so far — btw, that’s more than other dating platforms combined because there’s no time wasted messaging, doing the heavy lifting of trying to spark something out of nothing, and ultimately getting ghosted.”
  • “Love the concept and the spontaneity — it’s rare nowadays to have these opportunities.”
  • “It’s nice to have the ‘machine’ hang up rather than needing to make an excuse to leave. 😂”

In the era of technology, it may finally be time to bid farewell to texting limitations and embrace genuine, face-to-face connections instead.

Unlocking Genuine Connections

In 2018, Venngage conducted a study to determine whether people can fall in love through texting. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the study found that more than half of the participants said they didn’t like texting as much as meeting face-to-face.

Even for the most private introvert, humans are still social creatures. Amal suggests leaning into it instead of letting your flight mode win. 

Screenshot from The Zero Date website displaying how it works
No strings attached here. Just show up at the same time every week.

“One piece of advice I would give is just to embrace the video feature. It all happens so fast that you don’t have time to overthink appearances, which we found puts people at ease,” Amal said. “It allows you to focus on the person, not the profile.” 

Amal revealed that Zero Date has ambitious plans for the future. Although currently limited to LA and San Francisco, they are gearing up to roll out a lottery system in the upcoming weeks to gauge interest and decide which city to expand to next.

More themed events are also on the radar.

Having already hosted successful events for Valentine’s Day and Halloween — which have proven particularly popular with the Gen X generation — the platform aims to cater to the preferences of Gen Z and Millennials. Amal noted younger demographics often prioritize meaningful connections over casual encounters and embrace non-traditional gender preferences.

But if you’re unsure which date night you should attend, don’t worry: You can take The Zero Date Quiz, which will ask you a few questions and recommend the best date night from its primary and curated events.

If you’re in San Francisco or LA, consider attending The Zero Date’s next event. It’s every Monday at 7 PM, so all you have to do is sign up and show up.