Whatever your dating life was like before the pandemic, it's most likely changed due to the circumstances at hand. Thankfully, many online dating platforms are rising to the occasion, providing secure and safe ways for people to connect. In turn, singles everywhere are getting creative, figuring out how to learn more about each other before meeting in person.
For example, Bumble, the social networking app, offers its customers the opportunity to video chat or voice call potential dates. Even as pandemic lockdowns first began nationwide, Bumble saw video calls on their platform increase nearly 70% just from mid-March to early May.
Here are some tips for mastering the art of virtual dating and navigating in-person dating first steps.
• Switch up your means of communication. Doing one video call after another is exhausting. Break up how you regularly interact with potential dates. Suggest a voice call one day, video chat another day, or stick to texting during the week. You can also spare your thumbs the trouble and leave an audio message, which is available on various messaging services and platforms, including Bumble.
• Don't treat virtual dates like job interviews. While it's common to ask questions about your date's life, there are ways you can interact without making it seem like a job interview. If there's ever been a time to get creative with date ideas, it's now.
Hop on a video chat, throw on your chef's hat, cook the same meal from home, and compare the results for some friendly competition. Feeling lazy? Order takeout from the same restaurant.
You can also offer a virtual tour of your place and ask to see theirs – or for less pressure, have them show you their view out the window, or ask them to introduce you to their dog or cat.
• Set time limits. If you have several hours on your hands, trying to fill the void with conversation can be daunting – and awkward. Instead, set expectations and boundaries by saying, “I only have a half-hour to chat today” (with no excuse required). Once the time is up, you can politely excuse yourself.
Not only does this give you an escape hatch if things aren't going well, but it also gives you a break – and a chance to mull things over before you divulge every secret you've had since 6th grade if things are going great.
• Have “the COVID talk.” At some point, especially if you want to meet in person, it's necessary to discuss your level of comfort with social distancing. To avoid making the other person feel defensive, put it in terms of your lifestyle. Explain what health precautions you take, such as mask-wearing and avoiding crowds.
Everyone is going to have a different comfort zone. You don't need to apologize – you just need to be a good communicator! Make sure you're on the same page as your date before deciding to meet in-real-life.
• Plan a socially distant first date (or two, or more). If you've ever seen a Jane Austen adaptation, you know that dating in the 19th century was all about taking walks. It seems like a good time to revive that fad!
Too cold for a walk? Maybe you can go ice skating or skiing. If you'd prefer to connect over a conversation during a more low-key date, bundle up or meet at a semi-sheltered location like an outdoor market. Just keep your distance from crowds – and keep that mask on!
At the end of the day, don't take dating too seriously! Dating is a form of exploration – it's supposed to be something that adds to your life. Take a break if you need it. And when you get back to swiping, you'll be able to bring a more confident self to the table.