We chatted with Cork-based influencer Shauna Doyle about online dating during Covid. Because it’s the one thing we haven’t spoken about enough!
If there was ever a time for online dating to become the norm, it’s in 2020. Because for a long stretch, we literally couldn’t meet new people in person.
The opportunity for chance encounters has somewhat diminished but that doesn’t mean all hope is lost. We simply have to adapt. And that’s where apps like Bumble come into play.
So, we asked Shauna how she gets on with dates and chatting to people online in this very strange year.
Do you have any funny or awkward first date memories to tell us?
I’m so awkward on proper first dates. I’m always so nervous, thinking I’m not going to be able to use a knife and fork or I’ll spill my drink everywhere. I feel like when you’re having drinks, it can go downhill. Whenever I’ve gone on first dates, it would always be for a walk or a spin.
On one, the whole car ride there, I was the only person talking and the poor boy couldn’t even get a word in. By the time we got to the beach, it started torrential raining. So then we had to stay in the car for another hour of me just talking. And I ran out of things to say, but we met up a few times after that.
After a while, I don’t mind going for drinks but for the very first one has to be very casual and lowkey.
I went to the cinema for a date once. Do not go to the cinema on a date! It’s so awkward, you’re just sitting there in silence, staring at this movie that probably neither of you have any interest in. I get so nervous, I don’t have a lot of confidence when it comes to dates. I’m always up the walls over it. Cinema is a huge no for me.
That’s why I don’t mind the likes of Bumble. I’m able to text and talk like that, but in real life, it’s very awkward.
Has anyone ever done anything really romantic on a first date?
Nowadays, we glamourise the bare minimum. We’d come home from a date and say “he asked me how my day was” and the girls and I will be like “wow, that is romance.”
Have you ever been on a first date and something has turned you off it?
I think when you’re on a first date and they’re talking about their ex too much, that’s a turn-off. Or if someone is really stingy and won’t do something because of the cost.
And if people are non-stop talking about themselves!
Another turn-off is when I mention my job, which isn’t a stereotypical job, a few times people have told me I don’t have a real job and I can’t do anything besides taking pictures. As soon as you say that, you’re cancelled. I don’t like condescending people.
Has the Irish dating scene changed forever since Covid?
Maybe not forever, but definitely for a while. It’s definitely becoming the new norm to go on dating sites and apps. Whereas before it might have been seen as desperate.
You hear the horror stories but it’s really good that with Bumble, you have to verify yourself with pictures, so it’s safe.
Dating has definitely changed and I think it will stay like this for a while because people are more comfortable. I’ll text someone all day long, no bother. We’ve definitely become more comfortable getting to know new people that way. Before, it felt like you could only get chatting to a guy if I was out for a night with a few drinks.
Have you been on a virtual date?
I haven’t tried it. But I couldn’t believe how many people got into it. I would definitely try it, like a zoom call or voice notes. But I’m not sure if I would do a candle-lit dinner over Zoom.
One time, I was at my friend’s house just after lockdown. Both of us were on Bumble and we ended up using the video chat function with someone. I think it will definitely become a thing. And if you want to do a runner, you can just click the ‘leave’ button. No splitting a bill, it’s ideal.
Do you think these new kinds of dates will continue? As in coffee and walks instead of the pub?
I think it will continue. If I do meet up with someone again, I’d suggest going for a spin, going on a walk or grabbing coffee. Now is a good time for that because restrictions are kind of calming down, so you can go into town, get a hot chocolate and look at the lights. If you decide to go out for a meal, you only have an hour and a half so if it’s going bad, you have a timer.
It takes a lot of the pressure away. You don’t have to be as dolled up. I’ll throw on my parka and we’ll go for a walk and get a coffee. It’s very laid back. Us girls can spend hours getting ready before going out and the nerves grow as it gets closer. But if you’re sitting at home and someone asks you for coffee, it takes away a lot of that.
When you’re in a restaurant nowadays, you can’t even move around and you have to wear a mask when you do. It’s a lot harder to actually know what people look like. When someone has their mask on, it’s hard to tell.
Do you have any virtual date ideas?
Having something to do is a good idea rather than just depending on the conversation. Netflix has a thing where you both can watch h a movie at the same time. So you can talk about the movie.
If you kind of know them and you feel confident enough to just sit there with a drink, that can go well. If it gets too awkward, you can just say you’re internet is breaking up.
The ‘ick’ is such a thing recently, isn’t it?
Any ideas for a socially distanced date?
In Cork, there’s usually a Christmas market with a Ferris wheel and lots of lights. I think that’s handy because there’s loads to chat about. If it’s going well, there’s no time limit. If you’re meeting in town and you want to go home, you’re not depending on them to drop you home. If you go on a spin to the beach, you kind of are. Walking around town is so handy, very chilled and laid back.
If someone has nosey family members over Christmas, how would you recommend dealing with that?
Every Christmas, there’s always someone who asks what you’re doing with your life and if you have a boy on the scene.
If you do have someone new on the scene, I wouldn’t bring them into the picture super early, especially for Christmas. People can get too excited about it too early. If you’ve just gone on one or two dates, maybe just don’t disclose it. If it’s gone a bit further, maybe just say you’re ‘seeing someone’ so you don’t have to go into too much detail on it.
When I got my first boyfriend, my brother had to tell my Mum. I was too awkward to tell her. I have the social anxiety of a 13-year-old when it comes to males. I went to an all-girls school, so my first time experiencing boys was in college when I was around 19.
If you’ve started seeing someone new, when is appropriate to get them a Christmas or birthday present?
If it’s very early, ignore it. If it’s a month or two in, maybe something small. Then six months plus, go for something bigger. Don’t pull out the tickets to Paris in the first week.
This year, bought a present for me. I had no man on the scene and I can’t be crying in the club (because there is no club to cry in) so I bought myself a bag.