Try dating apps:
If you haven’t done much dating online, some of the most popular apps to try are Tinder, OkCupid, Bumble and Hinge. To get started with these apps, you write a quick biographical message, answer some questions relating to what you want and add a few pictures of yourself. Your success on these apps depends on a few factors, including the population of your area, but their basic functions are generally free, so there’s minimal risk if you want to check them out.
Tinder is a simple app that focuses on fast searching. It is mostly known as the platform where you swipe right to match with people you like and left to avoid ones you don’t. Unlike other apps, the written information you give is a small part of your profile, so searching for a partner is focused on the images you provide.
OkCupid is a more detail-oriented dating app. In addition to providing a more detailed profile page, the app lets you answer as many questions as you want from a list of thousands. OkCupid designs these questions for an algorithm to find a partner that matches your personality.
Bumble has a swiping system similar to Tinder, but the company designed the matching method with female users in mind. With heterosexual couples, the female has to make first contact within 24 hours of a match, while either person can be the first to connect in a same-sex couple. Bumble also differentiates itself by having a friend and a business mode for making new friends or networking — both great features for the current pandemic.
Hinge skips the swiping process and tries to make connecting more natural. The app believes dialogue is easier to start by letting you comment on a prospective partner’s photo or part of their bio. If the partner matches with you, you can then converse in chat.
If you want to avoid the uncertain and endless cycle of swiping and meeting people who may or may not be a good fit, you could join a matchmaking service like LoveAndMatchMaking.com.
Video or phone date:
Once you’ve made a virtual connection, consider moving to a video or voice call. Most dating apps have rolled out video and voice chat features since the pandemic began, so here are a few tips that can help make the best of these forms of contact.
- Dress to impress: You don’t need to wear a suit, but at least put on a clean, stylish shirt or top. If you look good, you’re going to feel more confident and likely make more of an effort to make a date.
- Clean up your space: You never know where the conversation could go. You might end up showing off your collection of house plants, an adorable pet or a recent home improvement project. Take some time to clean your home before your date.
- Be on time: Being on time shows you care and take the person on the other side of the conversation seriously and can treat them with respect. Life happens, though — I’m late to things all the time. When I can see I may be late, I just shoot the other person a message saying, “So sorry! Running five minutes behind!” It’s also a great idea to add your dates to your calendar app, so you don’t forget.
- Have good lighting: This might sound unnecessary, but virtually everyone looks better under warm, slightly dimmed lighting. It hides blemishes a bit and generally feels more romantic. Not too dim though — you’re not a cave dweller. I’m a big fan of dimmable and adjustable-warmth smart lights from Wyze. I usually start my video dates out on my balcony so I can show off the sunset view and turn a smart bulb through the Wyze app once the light gets dark. I also have Lutron Caseta Smart dimmers for my living room. If you really want to show off your face, you might take the opposite approach and get a Ring light.
- Find a quiet space: Many of us are sheltering from home with family or roommates. Just let everyone know that you need a quiet space and want a room to yourself. Most people will respect that. If you can’t ensure a tranquil area, be sure to let your date know someone else is around or may make a sudden burst of noise. Some people might be offended to find out someone else could hear their call if they aren’t told up front.
- Camera and audio equipment can also be important: The 2 most common ways to have a video date are on your phone or your laptop. If you’re using your phone, get a stand or something else to prop it up. Your arm is going to get tired after 20 minutes if you try to hold it. I recommend a simple cradle stand if you’re sitting at a table; if you’re elsewhere, a bendable, clamp-based stand is helpful. If you’re on a computer, I recommend sitting at a table — computers can get quite hot while video chatting. You might also want to upgrade your computer video with an external webcam. A good choice is the Allinko 880, but many 720p or 1080p webcams will offer a better image than the built-in webcam on your laptop.
If you get a second date, it’s time to be more creative.
It’s tough to form relationships without some sort of shared experience. So after the first date, you might have to go a little further than just talking with each other.
- Consider a date night where you order each other takeout, have it delivered at the same time and eat together. There are some great food delivery apps that can help.
- Try a movie night. Watching a show at the same time and chatting with an app like Netflix Party can be fun and spur conversations about a movie, show or other topics.
- You can even play games with apps like Houseparty and Jackbox. The one caveat here is that most games are made for more than 2 players, so this is perfect if you want to expand into having a double date with another couple. And you get the added bonus of seeing how well your date interacts with your friends or if you like their friends.
Even with the safety measures put into place, socially distant dating can be an interesting experience. It may even become a great story of how you first met your significant other!