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[Hey, cutie. Just wanted to let you know that this story originally ran in our November issue, so if you like what you see, you should probably snag a hard copy ASAP. Bye!]
I was high-key excited when I matched with Mike*. He looked just like Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid (hmm, I should probs discuss my attraction to animated characters with my therapist), and his location was only five miles away. Ofc I swiped right.
But the second we sat down for our first date, I could tell that not even the two rosés I was about to order could elicit a spark (or even a “U up?” text) between us. So right after saying our goodbyes, I thumbed back into Bumble and got a notification about a new feature: I could now video chat with my matches.
Weird, I thought. But also maybe kinda genius? I mean, it had just taken me an hour of getting ready to find out within 30 seconds that a guy wasn’t for me. (Almost everyone else can tell right away too: 78 percent of singles know within the first five minutes of physically meeting someone if they’re going to have a connection.) If video-calling potential baes could spare me lots of lame nights out, pssh, count me in. Here’s my saga.
Video Date #1: Victor
After connecting with this Brazilian actor, we shot a few messages back and forth before I suggested we video chat. And he actually agreed! I put on a decent shirt and some lip gloss (no mascara, tyvm) and sat in my home office waiting for his call.
Let’s just say the first two minutes were more awkward than accidentally Liking your frenemy’s transaction on Venmo. I basically word-vomited that I wasn’t wearing any makeup, forcing Victor to say I looked great. But once I got over the initial shock of using FaceTime with someone other than my mom, the conversation was pretty cute.
We talked for precisely 19 minutes and 52 seconds about his fresh new ’do (which gave Shawn Mendes a run for his money) and our prior dating horror stories (bonding at its finest!). Then we agreed to meet for happy hour drinks that weekend.
At the bar, the chemistry we’d felt over video chat was def still there. Even though it was our first official date, it felt a lot like our second. We skipped right over blah pleasantries and were comfortable enough with each other that any lulls in the convo were NBD. Turns out, video-vetting Victor was like the trailer to a good movie—one with a solid kiss at the end.
Video Date #2: David
The British director and I had texted a few times when he asked me if I was around for a call (I know!). I suggested a video one, and he was game. I faced the window (for good lighting, duh), feeling pretty confident. I mean, after Victor, I was basically a pro at this video thing. David, however, seemed a little too comfortable in front of the camera. He literally couldn’t stop staring at himself, which was pretty cringey, NGL.
At least I got to see the epic view from his rooftop (hello, Sunset Boulevard), and we did end up getting deep—bonding over how we’d both made moves for love (he left London to chase a woman; I left L.A. for a guy and then came back when that relationship imploded). Normally, I wouldn’t have revealed so much so soon, but what can I say? He was practically begging me to divulge my secrets every time he said “Go on” in his insanely sexy accent.
Two days later, we met for coffee, and while there wasn’t any first-meeting anxiety, we fell straight into a “daterview.” In other words, we spent more time asking each other about our profesh passion projects than why we were single (perhaps that was the answer?).
By the time we finished our cappuccinos, it was clear our business meet…er, date was over. We hugged it out and said we’d “keep in touch” (whatever that means), but the intimate connection we had made onscreen just didn’t end up translating IRL.
Video Date #3: Justin
His profile said he was only looking for something casual, but I still gave Justin my number because holy six-pack. He called me one night after getting home from work as I was drinking a glass of wine at my kitchen table post-dinner with friends.
As soon as I picked up, I could immediately tell from his face that our energies were different. I was buzzing and feeling social, ready to laugh and chat it up, but he was ready to pass out from exhaustion. Over the next 12 minutes, while he was telling me that he was planning on moving to Chicago soon (which explained why he wasn’t looking to wife anyone up rn), I got the feeling that our senses of humor didn’t match up either. By which I mean he was not impressed by my one-too-many deep-dish-pizza jokes (sorry, but it’s, like, the only thing I know about Chi-town).
Also, he gave what felt like a TED Talk on his super-high-profile career. Meanwhile, I was really just casually trying to hide the freshly formed pimple on my face. (Unclear if he noticed.) Honestly? The entire conversation was pretty freakin’ boring—to the point that I knew I would blow him off if he ever asked to meet up in person. Sayonara, boy who does not like pizza jokes.
Not everyone I connected with was eager to show face on their phone before meeting in the flesh. One guy, Will, refused to video chat with me because he was “better in person.” Um, okay. And Sean declined because he “never knows where to look” (answer: deep into my eyes, clearly).
So I wouldn’t say this dating hack is gonna catch on like wildfire—nor is it a foolproof way to find someone worth spending your Saturday night with. But it did save me a lot of effort and expensive perfume (that I’m running out of anyway) and gave me more time to focus on other stuff…like finishing my Bachelorette application.