Human beings are adaptable creatures.
Place us in an unfamiliar situation, like a lockdown, and it won’t be long before we’ve found a way to do the things we like doing.
This has become glaringly apparent with the response to the tobacco and alcohol ban in South Africa.
Another area that’s undergone an overhaul is the dating scene. Gone are the days (for now) of swiping right, and hooking up a few hours later – or slinking back home to reassess your priorities.
Instead, operations have moved online, into the chatrooms of dating apps, and via video chat platforms like Skype, Zoom, FaceTime and WhatsApp.
VICE put together a couple of virtual dating experiences from people who have settled into the new system. Drawing on those, let’s dive into some online dating etiquette.
Initiating a Date
[Kelly, 28] suggested a FaceTime date, an idea the guys she’d met on Bumble was extremely not interested in. “He told me, “Oh, I really, really, really hate FaceTime, I’ll see you when your quarantine is over”…
You can suggest a video chat, but you can’t make someone agree to it. Some people prefer to engage via text before feeling comfortable enough to meet up via screen.
The consensus seems to be you should start by chatting on WhatsApp to get to know each other a little better before making the move to video call.
Dressing For a Date
To create an air of normalcy in otherwise abnormal times, [Sarah Pendley, 33] said she still puts on getting ready music, does her hair and makeup, and gets dressed in regular date clothes (minus the shoes) for each date. Before the pandemic, Pendley said she’d never FaceTimed or even phone screened a date before meeting in person.
Follow Pendley’s example and put some effort into your outfit. An online video date isn’t dissimilar to an online job interview. You’d like to make a good impression. Look at it this way – if your date looked like a pile of unwashed clothes, you may think twice before meeting up with them again.
[Alex Williams, 28, and his date] ended up playing Boggle over a Zoom call, an of-these-times innovation Williams said he’s mastered (“you have to hook up a tablet and position it in a way where you both see the Boggle board”). This, their second date, lasted upwards of three hours—universally acknowledged to be a sign that things are going well, even if there is nothing else to do—and they’ve since had a third Zoom date.
He feels like they have good chemistry, their texting is easy and nice, and they find each other attractive. He even went as far as saying sexting “is definitely on the table.”
The third date is universally recognised, thanks mostly to Hollywood, as the date where things get steamy. If out in the real world, you might hook up on the first date, but things are probably going to play out a little differently online.
As in the real world, don’t assume that sexting is automatically on the table. Once again, this is not the time (it’s never the time) to spring nakedness on your date or follow up “hi” with a dick pick. Always obtain willing and enthusiastic consent from your date, before having a conversation about how you’d both like to handle the transition to sexting or video sex. Clear boundaries are key to making this work.
Ending a Bad Date
“Obviously I wasn’t trying to go to a bar, so we rescheduled it as a FaceTime date,” Williams said. His date was down with this, but just as things would happen in-person, Williams realized within about an hour that he wasn’t feeling it.
“I knew I was not into her, and the process of extracting myself politely was a little awkward,” he said. “Typically, like, the night’s over and you either go home together or you go home alone. And now it’s more nebulous; no one wants to be the first one to say we should call it.”
Ending a bad date is trickier online. You could do the decent thing and tell the person on the other end of the call that you aren’t feeling it (in a polite way, don’t start listing all the reasons that you’re incompatible). Chances are they aren’t feeling it either. If you’re a coward, tell them your battery is about to die and then text them. Either way, don’t ghost people. It’s rude.
Most of this can be summed up by one simple rule – don’t be a creep.
May your good dates be plenty and your dating horror stories few.
Good luck out there.