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If the idea of going on a video or virtual date has crossed your mind, you’re not alone. In this time of social distancing, the need to connect is essential, and we now have the bandwidth to do that online.
While you’ve probably been on a Skype business call or used FaceTime with friends and family, you may not have been bold enough to schedule a video date just yet. I get it. First impressions matter, and if you’re having a bad hair day, you may fear that hopping on a virtual date with someone you’ve been chatting with could disappoint them.
No one looks exactly like their profile photos these days, unless they’ve been posting selfies during quarantine. So be gentle on yourself and get ready to join the virtual party.
So how do you look your best when you’re not in a professional news studio and your hair is less than perfect?
Here’s how to get started with virtual dating to help you find your digital soul mate.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, dating online had a certain flow. You created a profile, you searched and swiped until you matched, started a chat, graduated to a text or phone call, and then met in person.
Dating during a quarantine has a different pace, and for many singles, the time it takes to go from searching for a match to actually making contact has accelerated. Like most people today, you’re probably home with time on your hands and your mobile phone at your side.
Singles are chatting with multiple people at a time because they can’t meet in person now. That means your ideal match could go stale if you don’t ramp it up to hear the sound of someone’s voice. I believe you also need to take it a step further and schedule a video chat.
Consider this time your real-life “Love is Blind” experiment and, if you click ‘yes,’ set a goal of meeting in person when it’s safe to do so.
While you believe your schedule is wide open right now, chances are you’re attending Zoom chats, classes, streaming shows, possibly homeschooling your children, and working. Add in the organization necessary to schedule chats and phone calls with dates, and it can feel overwhelming.
However, the one thing you should be doing is moving your match forward because singles desire connection. That’s why I recommend scheduling a video date after a few promising chat exchanges for the next day or two so you can take the time to be prepared.
Just as you’d look at your calendar and schedule coffee on a Thursday at 3 p.m., you should ask your date if they’d like to go on a virtual date, select the time, and don’t cancel.
To help singles find a date or a partner online during COVID-19 restrictions, several dating apps have released in-app video features, and all are encouraging daters to go on video dates, even if they choose to use an outside software program.
A few years ago, you were limited mostly to Skype and FaceTime, but Zoom chats are soaring in popularity, and, with the side-by-side view on your screen, it’s an option I recommend. Remember, you’ll need to send your date a Zoom invite so he or she knows what Zoom Room to meet you in.
FaceTime is an easy way to go on a video date if you have an Apple device or computer. Try using a dating app with in-app video features such as Bumble and The League Live, or newly announced video features on eHarmony, Plenty Of Fish, and Match, if you’ve met on those dating apps.
Video calls or chats on Bumble’s platform last almost 21 minutes, and I’ve been coaching singles on limiting first-date calls to 20 minutes using audio or video. Bumble also makes it easier to find dates agreeable to video calls by allowing you to post a “Virtual Dating Badge” on your profile so users will know you’re video-chat friendly.
While you’re still in chat mode, and before your first video date, try to keep it simple and schedule a virtual drink date. It’s a low-pressure activity, and showing up with a smile and a quarantini, whether a cocktail or a mocktail, adds to the flirtation and sidesteps the awkward moments of dead air when the conversation goes silent.
OkCupid asked its users what their ideal virtual date was and found that 29% of respondents prefer a shared activity like a game. Virtual dinner or drinks ranks almost as high at 28%, and 27% said they prefer to keep it simple with a video chat.
Only 15% said they prefer watching a movie or TV show together, and if you rock your first video date, suggest binge-watching a show together for the next time.
I’ve recommended anything from going on virtual tours of museums around the world, to playing trivia games or watching a live living room concert together.
It’s time to go shopping in your closet. That favorite sexy red top you like to wear with jeans on a coffee date or the fun dress that makes you smile when you look in the mirror are perfect pieces for your first video dates.
Michael Kaye, Global Marketing Manager at OkCupid concurs. He tells me that 78% of survey respondents said they’d get dressed up for a virtual date.
While selecting your virtual date outfit, make sure to avoid distracting patterns. You’re not a piece of abstract art in a museum. You’re going on a simple video date, and solid bright colors will make you pop.
And remember to wear pants, as there have been too many viral videos of people only dressing from the waist up while self-isolating.
For the ladies, it’s time to get out your makeup palette from the dusty drawer. While you’re not attempting to create a glamour shot, you should add some lipstick, which looks great on video.
For the guys, you need to ditch the sweats and put on a shirt that you’d typically wear on a date. Try to avoid wearing white and black or horizontally striped shirts. A blue T-shirt or sweater is perfect.
The best time of day to go on a video date is just before sunset or at a time where you can sit next to a window with natural lighting. If you’re able to set up your phone on a stand on your patio or garden, you’ll have natural light that should work well.
I recommend investing about $25 to $50 in a ring light, and they’re all the rage now. You don’t have to have a television studio in your living room, but placing a ring light or a lamp directly in front of you, will help you get camera-ready.
Avoid direct light behind you, as you’ll appear dark in the photo. If you’re using your desktop or laptop computer, and many of you are, try placing a white cloth napkin or tablecloth below it to soften the shot.
On Dating in the Age of COVID-19, a site I created to help singles during the coronavirus pandemic, I go on dress rehearsal dates with singles to check their lighting and background, and to provide a positive and upbeat list of questions and answers before your first big virtual date.
You can also do this on your own by having a friend call on FaceTime or your favorite video chat software to make sure your framing and lighting looks great. Your friends will notice things that you aren’t seeing such as a pile of garbage, or a cluttered desk in the background.
Remember, it’s a date and not a deposition. Don’t over-Google your date before your initial online meeting, stick to a positive script instead of discussing the coronavirus-related news cycle, and you’ll be off to a great start.