Once upon a time, there were personal ads, followed by Match.com and similar online sites. And now there’s video dating. Whatever happened to meeting someone the old-fashioned way?
Welcome to the new normal. For the time being, virtual dating may be the only game in many socially distancing communities. Don’t hold your breath waiting for the return of the good old days. As singles become more comfortable with the technology, video dating is expected to last beyond the pandemic.
There are, of course, video dating sites. But all you really need is Zoom or FaceTime along with a few precautions we’ll outline here. So what do you need to make sure your video dating experiences are great? Here, we outline 6 of our top tips.
Protect Your Private Information
Before you get started in the world of video dating, it’s important to make sure you’re feeling safe and comfortable coming face to (virtual) face with your match. Before you hop on that first call, you’ll want to ensure you stay safe by following these important steps:
- Look up easily discoverable information on, for example, Google and Facebook. Your date may be impressed that you took the time to learn more about them but tread lightly in case your date feels differently. It could also reveal a deception, so be prepared.
- Establish an alternative email account that you can delete later. You may not want to reveal your email to a virtual stranger.
- Use an app like Burner to set up an alternative phone number if you’re testing the waters with an old-fashioned phone call before having a video date. Most of us keep the same phone number for years. There is no reason to share your digits until you’ve established trust.
- Check out your potential amor on Spokeo. You can conduct a basic search to check data such as age and location. Or you can use more advanced search features to verify everything from his living situation to whether or not he has any criminal charges (for an additional fee).
During your preliminary discovery, if you find something that makes you uncomfortable (like a red flag that they may be a scammer), feel free to exit stage left.
Lights, Camera, Action
Ready to video date? Here are six tips to help nudge that online date into something more.
1. Dress to Impress When Virtual Dating
There’s a new social phenomenon known as the Zoom shirt. That’s a fancy button-down or silky bow blouse hanging by your computer just waiting for your next conference call. Don’t wear that. Put a little effort into the clothes you wear. Choose something that makes you feel confident and alive. Avoid white (since it can wash you out) and stripes, which can shimmy on camera. Don’t forget to change out the sweatpants and fuzzy slippers if you plan to get out of your chair.
2. Avoid the Housebound Look
The camera combined with too much time indoors can lend a sickly pallor, so if you wear makeup or you would like to, define your lips, cheeks and eyes to make your face more vibrant. Male, female or nonbinary, a little powder to reduce the shine goes a long way.
3. Pay Attention to your Virtual Dating Backdrop
Tidy the space that appears in the background. You don’t have to pass the white-glove test, but make sure room clutter isn’t competing for the attention your date should lavish on you (bonus points if you can use your background to show off some of your personality as well!)
4. Position Yourself in the Most Flattering Light for the Camera
You’re going to have to strike a romantic mood in full light. Face a daylit window for the best light. Of course, that may be impossible in the evening. In that case, use artificial light, but not fluorescent, which can make you look ghoulish. Avoid lighting from above or below.
5. Keep Your Eye on the Video Camera
Wipe off the camera lens and place the camera at eye level. If you’re using your phone, secure it with an easel or prop it against something solid to avoid a shaky picture. Although it’s tempting to keep checking out your own lovely image, you’ll make a better impression by looking directly at your date.
6. Play Virtual Date Games
There’s always the perennial happy hour. But video dates offer an opportunity to be creative. How about a virtual game? You can use games to recreate the fun and informal atmosphere you’d expect on a first date — and to avoid any awkward gaps in conversation should the sparks not fly immediately. Here are a few ideas to get started:
- Truth or Dare: You can set the ground rules at PG-13. Just be prepared to show your new armour your messy bathroom counter.
- Trivial Pursuit: This is an old-time favorite board game, now with an online version. Test one another’s knowledge of the insignificant with thousands of questions.
- Jackbox Games: The company has several options. You Don’t Know Jack is a real brain-teaser. Or try Fibbage, which gives you license to tell each other outrageous lies and get away with it.
Take it a Step Further
Now that you’ve had your first video date, you may want to know more. After all, it can be impossible to know whether someone is being forthcoming through the video camera lens. If you haven’t already visited Spokeo, now is the time to use the powerful reverse search tool to learn more about your new flame. In addition to its robust search capabilities, you can run one of several detailed reports to make sure everything is on the up-and-up.
Good luck…and happy video dating!