by Robin mcgraw
Psssssst, Secret Squad Singles!
Are you quarantining as a party-of-one and feeling a little extra ready to mingle lately? Are you concerned that the pandemic is putting a giant no-end-in-sight roadblock up to your plans of finding a partner and starting a family? If so, you’re in luck and you’re definitely not alone! There’s a new trend emerging amid coronavirus on online dating sites; virtual dates! Cyber socializing and digital dates are in, awkward first date small-talk IRL is out! Could this mean the official end of the “Hookup Era”? We shall see!
Pre-covid, only 6% of singles reported being open to video chatting with other singles, preferring instead to take the plunge and go on a date in the real world. Since the pandemic began, that 6% has skyrocketed to a whopping 70%!! During my recent conversation with the lovely Rachel DeAlto, Match’s Chief Dating Expert, I also learned that 45% of Match members believe they could tell if they had chemistry with someone new in under 10 minutes of video chatting! She told us that 22% of singles say they would consider getting exclusive with someone they had never met in person. And it actually makes so much sense! Video dates eliminate a lot of the normal drawbacks of in-person meetings. Getting to know someone new is turning out to be a lot more meaningful via video date; walls seem to crumble, bonds are deepened through real dialogue, and quality time is spent.
Rachel tells us Match has seen a double digit increase in singles reporting having more meaningful conversations within the Match app. Keeping a step ahead of the changes going on in the world, Match recently introduced their new “Vibe Check” feature where you can video date with your match within the app. Users report the most awkward phase of online dating as knowing when to take things to the next step after initially chatting. Vibe Check is bridging that gap and helping users initiate video dates by signaling to a match that they’re ready to take things from chat to digital date, all without having to give out their personal phone number! “We’ve also seen a huge increase in our members calling to talk to our dating coaches about how to date during coronavirus – singles definitely aren’t giving up on finding a meaningful connection.” Rachel tells us. Users can see the questions coming into Match’s “Dating While Distancing” resource center here: https://www.match.com/datingwhiledistancing
A first date should always be a time to build rapport and get to know one another…and the possibilities for great virtual dates are only limited by your imagination! Check out some of my favorite date suggestions from Rachel as well as several creative idea submissions from our fabulous IGAS listeners for getting social while staying distanced:
Food for Thought: Exchange refrigerator privilege! Peepshow your fridge to your video date, have them select any three items inside, and vice versa. Then you both make something (dinner? light bites?) featuring the selected ingredients over Facetime/Zoom. Kind of like a virtual episode of Chopped! Or prepare a favorite meal in two different ways (in your respective kitchens) and then eat together! Or take an online cooking class as a virtual duo! There are endless options to choose from on YouTube or your favorite cooking channel’s Instagram or website.
Netflix Watch Party: Like Netflix and Chill but with a little extra engagement required! Screen the same movie together or watch the same episode from your all-time favorite series. Binge watch 80’s horror movies while eating homemade treats. Don’t forget to compare notes/discuss during and after.
Trip Advisor: Compare travel bucket lists and exchange photos of places you want to visit. Share photos from previous holidays/vacations and discuss your favorite fun memories!
Two Can Play at That Game: A little flirty competition can generate a great spark for an early date! Buy the same puzzle or game and see which of you can complete it first! Have a go at the Memory Game - you both dress up in a costume with lots of fun accessory details. Leave the room, remove a few items and see if you can both figure out what has changed.
Craft Cocktails 101: Teach one another how to make a signature cocktail or enjoy virtual wine tasting flight together.
Face the Music: Make a playlist for each other! Music preferences speak volumes about personality and experiences, and they can be great conversation boosters.
Pet Project: Meet each other's pets! Such an easy icebreaker, and after all pets are family! So if this falls flat, you know you can skip the second date and move on to someone your pup or cat approves of.
Your best game plan for pulling off a memorable virtual date is to RELAX and keep your normal pre-date routines in place. Shower and get dressed as you would for any first date you’re excited about…style your hair and make-up if that’s your thing. Since you’re no longer at the mercy of the weather or the season, pull something you feel extra good wearing out of the back of your closet, and rock it. Create the mood! Light some candles for a little ambiance, choose a funny destination background, or use an image of your favorite nearby chic cocktail lounge as your Zoom backdrop. Set aside some time at least an hour before the date begins to arrange your video shot; choose where you’ll be seated for the conversation (experts recommend avoiding using your bedroom as the setting for early dates), use a tripod or prop your device up on something steady for hands-free chat. If you can, position your device at eye-level so your date gets to see you looking your best. By using a few key items you likely already have on hand you can easily get the virtual date party started!
Who knows? Maybe coronavirus really is changing the future of dating for the best! It could be setting the scene for IRL dates to be even better down the road than they ever were before. At least with virtual dating, you don’t have to worry about who picks up the tab or the anxiety-inducing end-of-the date kiss…and if it becomes unbearable, you can simply say “gotta run!” and hang up! Perhaps the biggest perks of all; it’s cost-effective, and you truly have no choice but to take things slow!
Thank you for sharing your creativity Secret Squad! You’re full of all of the most wonderful ideas, so please don’t stop sending them my way!