“Online dating is efficient. We’re a fast food society and now you have a pool of eligible people to choose from.” — Gail Barsky
After a few decades of chasing palm trees and salty water, New England’s charms lured me home. When I landed a job with lots of road time, my social life shriveled up like a dimpled prune. I went from hot, sultry nights in Florida to lifeless, hotel rooms in the Northeast. My inner child demanded a playmate, which led me to online dating.
Entangled in a web of long hours behind a computer or wheel, dating took a backseat. When 40 hit, my daily matches dove into the deepest, darkest depths of the sea. I then discovered Bumble, an app that provided quick swipe left, swipe right options to explore eligible men. Their easy formula complimented my busy lifestyle.
When COVID struck, I became a hermit. My in-person digital consultations morphed into Skype meetings. Instead of meandering through grocery aisles, I ordered food online. Outings with friends turned into zoom parties. Going on a date with a man I never met was something my brain could not process. If I limited time with my inner circle, then why risk death for a stranger?
. . .
The summer heat seeped into my head. Fueled by a flicker of hope, my fingers started swiping. Infections and deaths were on the decline. Was now my only chance to meet a man before the second wave?
I started conversing with a guy on Bumble. After several exchanges, we set a date. The weather did not allow for outdoor dining, so we postponed it. After two rain cancellations, we settled on a video chat.
Although I am comfortable in my skin, video chatting is a stab to my ego. My features are never framed well, leaving me a little self-conscious. Despite my disdain for video chats, I obliged.
Prior to our scheduled time, I showered, put on make-up, and a nice shirt, just as I would get ready for an in-person date. After all, wouldn’t I want to make a great first impression?
. . .
Our video chat was a bomb, but it left me with some great tips to share.
1. Do not criticize your date’s appearance.
As stated, I dressed to impress. My date did not. He was scrunched up on his couch in a crumpled t-shirt, somewhat disheveled. As I was trying to position the camera from my most flattering angle, his lackluster appearance may have escaped my immediate attention. However, he said, “Are you coming from work? Why are you all dressed up?”
After throwing me off balance, I soaked in his appearance. We were complete opposites. I was polished. He was not. I would not have cared, but he already threw a stone through my screen within less than a minute. My wall went up.
2. Treat a video chat like a real date.
Prior to our video chat, this guy seemed like a nice guy with similar interests. That’s why I was interested in meeting him. Although we were not meeting in person, our video chat would still be his first impression of me. I made sure my computer was gone, my candle was burning, and my face was polished.
In contrast, the guy had his work papers thrown all over his couch, and his computer on. His demeanor showed a man who was squeezing me in on his break before burning the midnight oil. There was a lack of effort on his part to create any sort of ambiance.
3. Let the conversation flow.
Instead of enjoying a natural flow of conversation, I felt like I was in a hot seat. He slammed me with question after question, as if he were interviewing me. When he did not like my answers, he challenged me. For example, he asked when I had last been in a relationship. I told him I had been dating a guy on and off for a few years, but it was not serious. He asked if we were exclusive, and I answered, “Yes.” He said that sounded serious to him.
In general, I am curious about people. I ask a lot of questions. This time, I really did not have anything to ask. I guess he had already shut me down by commenting on my appearance and then drilling me. When I failed to ask him questions, he kept saying, “Ask me something. What do you want to know?”
Demanding a question is not going to generate a natural flow of conversation. Creating a comfortable space will spark the curiosity you are looking for from your date.
4. Keep your quirks to yourself, and be kind to animals.
One of the questions this guy asked me was, “Do you like animals?” I answered, “I love animals.”
He then proceeded to tell me how he has a cat. His cat is an outdoor cat, but it was at college with his daughter. His daughter keeps the cat in her dorm room. He then told me he only has the cat to kill mice. The cat is a “tool” for him. He does not like animals and will not let the cat inside his house.
The fact that he called his cat a “tool” to kill mice sort of creeped me out. Why would you say such a crazy thing in your first conversation? Red flag.
. . .
My COVID video date proved to be quite interesting in a weird way. Although we were not a match, I walked away with a few lessons. I was quite happy I did not waste the drive or risk COVID to meet the guy in person.
This post was previously published on Hello, Love.
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