#bumble | #tinder | #pof SEX FILES: Cyber-dating in the age of COVID-19

Whether we like it or not, it looks like video dating is here to stay — at least for now. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, dating app Bumble has reported a 56% spike in video calls.

While I’ve yet to dip my toes into video dating, my friend Zee — who is 10 years younger and at least 23% less cynical than I am — has embraced the process wholeheartedly, with mixed results.

The other night while catching up over text, she told me about her most recent virtual encounter.

“Well, he looked like John Hamm.”

“That sounds promising!” I said.

“Well, if John Hamm was a serial killer. I don’t think he smiled or blinked once.”

It was incredibly awkward and she couldn’t wait for it to be over.

It’s conversations like this that make me wonder if dating during a pandemic is worth it. Can you really form an emotional connection with someone through a screen?

“Absolutely!” says, Claire AH, a matchmaker, dating coach, and owner of Friend of a Friend Matchmaking. “I’m seeing it happen with some of my clients. People are taking the opportunity to branch out, meet new people who are sometimes a bit outside of their most stringent preferences, and they’re seeing great success.”

Human contact of any kind is scarce at the moment. Claire says people are motivated to give video dating a try because it’s one of the few ways to socialize right now. Also, this period of self-isolation has also made many singles realize that they want to find love, after all.

“It’s different than face-to-face dating but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. What we lack in physical connection, we’re often making up for in feeling safer and more at ease since we’re in our own space, leading to more openness and bids for genuine connection,” says Claire.

If you’re hoping to give video dating a whirl (and don’t want to come off as a hybrid of Don Draper and Dexter), here are a few expert tips to keep in mind.

Be aware of what’s beyond your camera’s view.

Dirty dishes. Errant socks. An overflowing waste paper basket. Deal with these items before your date. As Claire reminds us, “you may accidentally knock over your phone or adjust your screen’s angle and bring mess into the frame. Especially if there’s any chance that you’ll wind up bringing your date into another room, make sure that everything is tidy. Your surroundings are an extra insight into you.”

Check yourself out on video beforehand.

Sometimes the webcam and the mirror are very different,” says Claire. Make time for a dress rehearsal before your date to ensure you’re well positioned in the frame and the top of your head isn’t cut off.

Get ready like you would for an in-person date.

You’re probably not going to feel particularly confident sporting un-brushed teeth and yesterday’s underwear. Instead, “smell good, look good, feel good. Just because your date can’t get up close and personal doesn’t mean you won’t reap the benefits from feeling totally on your game,” suggests Claire.

Get creative.

There’s nothing wrong with using a fun Zoom background. Maybe that photo of Guy Fieri backed by a wall of flames just “exudes your personal essence.” But don’t be afraid to create a date night vibe other than, “We’re riding the bus to Flavourtown!”

Claire says, “set the mood. Nice lighting (not from behind), low music, maybe a snack or beverage.” Creating a nice environment will add significance to your date.

Practice proper date etiquette.

Don’t throw manners out the window. Claire says, “be respectful, show up on time, pay attention, don’t play with your phone. Be your charming self, remember to ask questions, and put your best (but still accurate) foot forward.”

Don’t be a dystopian downer.

There’s going to be technical hiccups. You may be overwhelmed with the sense that this all feels a little apocalyptic. Don’t dwell on these feelings.

Claire says, “they are real, but they’re not helpful. Take a deep breath, make sure you’re sufficiently charged, and log in.”



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