Andrea is a dating consultant who gives people advice on relationships and couple stuff. She's also a fan of traveling the world.
The Pandemic Changed Our Dating Habits
In our modern world, dating doesn't really lend itself to the coffee shop anymore. People have become much more inclined to meet dates first virtually. The pandemic changed the way we now try to find love. In some ways it can be more safe, so there is a silver lining.
Maybe you're reading this hub during the pandemic and just about everything is closed. It's hard to meet people and connect with them when the world isn't running at its normal pace. How do you connect without a public meetup?
Becoming a Video Chat Pro
We haven't really been given a lot of guidance on what to do in video chats. We don't really know how to talk to people online and really make a stellar first impression that turns into a second or third date.
I would use online strategies before meeting someone in person to:
- Make sure the person is who they say they are. Get a feel for them online and see if you really would want to meet them in person.
- This is a safer way to meet someone. If things go bad it is far easier to exit and never have to reconnect.
- You can check out the person's energy and how it makes you feel. You can get a real sense of whether you have common interests and common goals.
- Consider it a prelude to an in person date. It's almost like an interview.
Video Chat Dating Tips
With Zoom, Facetime, Skype or other video messaging social media you don't have to make things so formal. A lot of people chat back and forth with someone they like through messages one way or another. This casual texting style might be a better approach for many. For one, It allows you to create a friendly connection, to flirt a little here and there, and to build up to something more serious like an hour long video chat.
People who stay together do so because they like the energy they get from each other. People like positive experiences. You'll attract more with honey than vinegar.
So with that in mind, I have come up with a list of recommendations for how to have first dates on video chats and texting:
- Match the amount of writing and volume the other person has. If they like to write long novels, then you should probably write back long novels. People like someone that is congruent to their needs.
- If the person you're chatting with is concise then keep things concise.
- Stay positive. Don't complain, whine, or get aggressive. People don't like that. Find ways to naturally put a positive spin on experiences.
- Never go on about how you're a nice guy. The other person you're talking to will be the judge of that.
- Try not to focus on your insecurities and awkwardness too much. You don't need to remind them every 30 seconds that you have a giant zit.
- People with humor, use it to your advantage.
- Read the room. Mirror the person a little. If they don't really talk about inappropriate things then you probably shouldn't either.
The one big fat chunky word you need to guide you through dating is: charisma.
What is charisma? The Oxford dictionary defines it as "compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others." Charisma is a style of leadership. It shows that you have values and can connect to people's emotions. When dating, you want a high charisma score and a lot of that has to do with manners, observing others, listening, and having a strong vocabulary.
At the end of the day, charisma is king.
Zoom Call Basics
If you've hit a point where you and another person would like to have a Zoom date then the best thing you can do is to prepare for it. Also, congrats!
You may want to ask a few questions before the date to make sure you and the other person are on the same page.
- Schedule a time that's convenient for the both of you. It's smarter to have one of these dates at a time that would fall at a normal date time. Consider evenings and the weekends.
- Wear something nice but don't go overboard. Unless otherwise stated, dress like you would for an in-person coffee date.
- Have the chat in an area of your home where you can focus. I don't recommend taking the chat in a bathroom or bedroom, at least not facing the bed.
- Your background matters. Go somewhere clean. Bookshelves are a good idea or something that can be a conversation topic.
- Go through the normal rituals you would for a date: take a shower, be on time, go to the bathroom before the date.
- Be focused. The other person wants your undivided attention. If you have kids, maybe have someone babysit them like you would if it was an in-person date.
- Pets are okay in calls. They can help break the ice. It's also good to know if someone is a dog or cat person or if they're allergic or hate pets. But don't make the call entirely about your pet.
- It's hard to really know when a date will end or what makes it successful. I suggest when you schedule the date make sure you have plenty of time for it. Maybe you get lost in a three hour conversation. Maybe... but that is unlikely.
- Keep your manners. Say hello, how was your day, and make sure you have a polite goodbye. If things seem like they really went well and you can really tell -- then suggest at the end when you might be able to chat again. Be careful though, some people might find that pushy. It's likely better to text between video chats and use texting to schedule dates.
Sharpen up Your Date With These Tips
There are things you can do to make the Zoom call a little more special and memorable in the right way. Instead of coming in without any topics or plans, try the following.
- If you're cool with it, have dinner together over Zoom. A little bit of wine might relax the nerves. Get cute and bring in a candle and some other magical touches. Joke that you're paying -- or maybe do. Eat ice cream too. If you really have game, maybe buy a portrait of Lady and The Tramp -- the famous spaghetti scene, and have it in your background. Remember, you're still trying to set the mood and make it memorable and fun. Little touches like this can help you stand out.
- I can't say this enough -- look nice. People who do well in Zoom dates have something attractive about them, whether a goofy energy, really nice eyes, or something fantastic.
- Buy that Ring light. It will make you look better and more professional. It sucks, but better computers, better lighting, and a nicer look can help you out. When you feel better about the way you look, you tend to project a better version of yourself too.
- Write down things you want to talk about. You can pull out your notebook of ideas and say that you came prepared with some topics that might be fun. You can skip whatever your date doesn't like. Good topics: pets, favorite TV shows, favorite books, favorite bands, thoughts on ghosts, favorite seasons, favorite months -- you're basically looking for something to break the ice and things you both have in common. Keep in mind dates should feel organic, so don't force things or try to control the flow of the date.
- I don't think it's a great idea to launch into conversations about politics or religion on a first date. Though these things are important it can make you look a bit intense, if it comes up naturally, cool. But you don't want to come off that you're a zealot.
- Don't ask too personal of questions!!! Maintain healthy boundaries. They probably don't want to spill their guts about their deepest darkest secrets.
- Treat the person with respect even if you don't care for the date. You need to have manners and charisma, don't just blow them off. It's okay to say up front you don't think you're a good match for each other, but you wouldn't mind continuing to chat, be friends, or stay in touch.
- Keep your eyes on your computer. Don't try to multitask during a date.
- Don't ask a lot of personal financial questions. It can make you look really bad.
- Don't try to intimidate your date. Keep things cool, calm, and collected.
Schedule and Timeline for Your Zoom Date
Keep in mind technology isn't perfect. If you can communicate to your date a backup plan if Zoom suddenly goes bad.
You should use a chat with password protection so you don't have any unwanted visitors.
Don't fret about technology too much. Discuss the glitches and move on quickly.
Before a date you should:
- Clean up the space where you plan to video chat.
- Have an outfit picked out and clean.
- Put on some deodorant. You don't want sweaty pits.
- Check your nose for any stray hairs.
- Send a text or email that you look forward to the date.
- Discuss ahead of time what you would like to do in the video chat and try to make it informal and conversational and not too serious.
- Limit and reduce distractions.
- Make arrangements with a baby sitter.
- Feed the pets.
- Go to the bathroom. Avoid trying to run away from your video chat to go to the bathroom. So take a poop before you get to the chat.
- Check your video quality and lighting.
- Free up your schedule for time after the date. Expect it to take longer than you're thinking.
- I suggest a date in the kitchen with food. It's closer to what a real date would be like and less intrusive into your personal space.
- Buy some flowers. Put them in your shot.
- You could send flowers to your date but only if you were previously given their address and not in some stalker way. Avoid doing creepy stalker like things. Don't come off obsessed and desperate. Those are bad qualities.
- Have the wine ready. Have your favorite drink ready. Have a classy or upstanding mug.
- Have a notebook out for some conversation starters. You can say" "I wrote down some conversation starters just in case I got nervous and didn't know what to say."
- Create the right space. Get rid of anything you wouldn't ordinarily find in a regular date. Get rid of anything inappropriate.
- Take caffeine if you need energy and skip the wine. Do grape juice instead if you still want to have a fancy glass.
During the date:
- Smile. Listen. Respond. Give back energy.
- Be polite. Don't make negative remarks. Again, for the love of God, be charismatic.
- Say hello how are you in the beginning.
- Say thank you for the date and their time at the end.
- Compliment them. Make it genuine.
- Have some stories or anecdotes you would like to share. Don't make the other person be the only talker.
- Play a game together. You should probably setup this up before the date and ask if they would like to do that beforehand.
- If you have dance skills show them off briefly, but otherwise don't. Better with music.
- Play a song if you are good at an instrument, yes to piano and guitar. But don't make the song a love song, and especially don't make it a serenade. Keep it short too. You may have the instrument in your background to pitch to this. Better to have the instrument in the background and IF they suggest you play a song, do it then.
- You could put on your table some items that are related to your hobbies so you could talk about those things. Like if you are a professional photographer show your fancy camera, if you are a painter bring out some of your work, if you are good with clay show the pottery. Impress with your talents, but don't go overboard.
- Are you a really good cook? Then put extra work into your food so you can show it off.
- If you vibe on something, keep talking about it. I encourage not getting too entrenched on political or religious topics, but if it is something both of you like and you both appear to feel comfortable, go for it.
- Read the room. Know when something isn't working as a topic and get off it. Don't try to force the way of the conversation either. There should be a nice genuine flow.
- If you need a break to go to the bathroom or something, say hey -- I need a five minute break. And that you'll be right back if that's okay.
- If you have to leave because of an emergency, make sure you apologize. Send them a text later updating them on the situation if need be. Try to reschedule if you felt it really cut things short.
- If they ask a question, answer it to the best of your ability.
- Don't make fun of them.
- Use common sense.
- Don't give out any personal info just yet. Some people do these video chats as a way to scam others. I know, it's terrible. Don't answer things like who was your first kiss.
After the Zoom Date:
- Send a nice text or email later to say you enjoyed the date and you hope they had a good time too. Wait for them to respond before you say anything else.
- Get back to your life.
- If you two start texting again and the like, then schedule another date. Get back to the drawing board and think about what you can do for the next video chat if you can't meet in person.
First Date Questions and Conversation Starters
Don't rapid fire question your date. These are just some questions to give the date some momentum. You probably shouldn't ask all of them.
- Did you play an instrument in high school?
- If you could travel to any country in the world for a vacation where would it be?
- Do you have a favorite holiday and what is it?
- Have you ever seen a ghost? This one is John Mulaney approved.
- What are things that make you laugh?
- Did you have a secret crush on a celebrity growing up?
- What was your favorite subject in high school / college?
- Would you prefer to hang out in a forest, a desert, the beach, or the mountains?
- Do you have a favorite sports team?
- If you could go back to school what is something you would learn?
- If you could learn another language what would it be?
- If you were a baby animal with a super power what would you be?
- What are some of your favorite foods?
- Favorite drinks?
- If you were stuck on a desert island and only had three movies to watch for the rest of your life what would you pick?
- Do you know any songs or speeches by heart?
- What's something that happened in your life that brought you joy?
- Do you like to dance?
- If you could have one super power what would it be?
- If you could host a dinner with any five famous people from the past who would you pick?
- If you were stuck on a train what would help you keep your sanity?
- Do you have any jokes?
- Do you have any good dad jokes?
- Would you rather live on the moon or Mars?
- If you could create a podcast what would it be about?
- Do you have any favorite board games?
- If you could own any animal and not got hurt and it wouldn't put a dent in your finances -- what would it be? (The answer is panda.)
- Favorite dessert?
- Would you rather take a multiple choice test or write an essay?
- What are 5 states you would like to visit?
- Do you have a favorite comedian?
- Would you rather go to something outside like the Grand Canyon or something fancy like a ballet or symphony?
- Do you like gifts more or compliments?
- Would you rather hang out with a werewolf or a vampire?
- Do you have favorite people you watch on YouTube?
- What is your favorite flower? Do you like flowers?
- What is the perfect meal?
- Favorite president?
- Do you have a favorite historical period?
- What's one of the strangest things you've learned recently?
- What is something you would like to accomplish in your lifetime?
Andrea Lawrence (author) from Chicago on December 11, 2020:
I feel terrible for them because it is a challenging year to date, but also having a partner to combat how lonely this year is so helpful. I'm married too and it's brought me some sanity.
Lorelei Cohen from Canada on December 11, 2020:
Love what you have done here. This article is a delightful collection of tips and ideas for dating during covid. I am so lucky to already be married but can certainly imagine how singles must be feeling re:dating during our current pandemic outbreak.