For the single introverts among us, lockdown might seem like the perfect opportunity to re-charge our social batteries and have some much needed alone-time. But no, thanks to the wonders of technology and just how damn adaptable human beings are, virtual dating has totally become A Thing. We are, unfortunately, not off the hook. For better or for worse, people are dating just as much as ever – albeit through a screen. So if you’re using dating apps during lockdown, arranging video dates and looking for virtual date ideas, here’s a handy guide on how to stay safe and how to ace virtual dating.
A guide to virtual dating
Before you set a (virtual) date
While you might think dating virtually sounds easier, that’s not necessarily the case. And as sex and relationship therapist at LELO, Kate Moyle, says, “You should hold onto the boundaries and values that you do when dating in person. Dating in any form is opening yourself up to rejection and involves being vulnerable in some way, as with vulnerability comes intimacy; and the boundaries that we set model how we want to be treated by others, and this shouldn’t change because our dating life has changed medium.”
Think about ghosting for example. Behaviours like that have skyrocketed due to the increasing role technology is now playing in our (love) lives. So remember that with virtual dating, this is still a possibility and you could still get hurt. “If this does happen then remember that this says more about the other person than it does about you; as these experiences can really impact self-esteem and self confidence.”
In order to protect yourself, Kate suggests getting to know the person over message first – that way you can build a connection before jumping straight to video. She also recommends having a phone call before video chatting, too. “Talking to someone before seeing them will give you an idea of how the conversation will flow, and will make you feel more comfortable. You may also want to feel more in control of your environment, and so you could sit and ask your partner to sit, with your whole bodies on camera.”
Video dating tips
How to ace a video date
Match’s dating expert, Hayley Quinn reckons lockdown is the perfect opportunity to get inventive with dating. “Ride the wave and make the most of this time with some fun virtual dates,” she says.
Set the scene
While many of us have now got used to spending 24/7 in our pyjamas – and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that – Hayley says we should consider at least changing into a different top. This will put you in more of a date-y mood.
Check your background
“Check out what’s in the background of your call,” she says. “You may want to keep it simple and not angle your webcam towards your laundry pile.”
Keep it at eye level
“Try to set your laptop at eye level too, as placing it on your lap,” she says.
Think about lighting
“Think about creating some good lighting for the call. If your chat is in daytime hours you can face outwards towards a window to get good natural light, and if it’s at night make sure you switch a lamp on so you’re well lit,” Hayley says.
Remember the whole point of dating: to have fun. Hayley says to do that you could:
“Play a game with your date. You could go old school with virtual charades, up the ante with a round of ‘never have I ever…’ or choose another drinking game. While you can’t head down to meet their friends at a bar, you could do a double date video chat to get to know each other better (and get your best friend’s opinion on them too). It may not be quite the real thing, but remember there are definitely some benefits to getting to know someone slowly. So, for now enjoy the flirtation, and if you connect, then there’s a good chance that you’ll be enjoying their company IRL before too long.”
Staying safe and comfortable on virtual dates
- Don’t share your personal details. “Never share details like your home address and bank details. In online dating, you should be very wary of the people you meet—even if it is someone you have been talking to for a long time,” says DatingScout.co.uk founder Chris Pleines. “Some people do everything to lure you into their trap and illegally use your identity. Others, using your personal and bank information can make purchases under your name. Don’t doxx yourself!”
- Watch out for suspicious links. One of the infamous phishing techniques is by sending an unsuspecting victim a link, Chris says. “Always to be wary of suspicious attachments or links. Ask your match what it is all about and check the structure of the link itself. Is the site reputable? Did your match give you a detailed description of what the link is all about? If no and no, make sure you close that chat tab, keep an eye out on this particular user, and report if they send another link again.”
- Use a trusted dating platform. It’s important to use a well-known video platform that you trust to conduct your online dates. “This will ensure the video date runs smoothly without technical difficulty and also help protect you. For example, some online video platforms allow you to turn the ability to screenshot off – this will help protect you if your date has malicious intentions,” says eharmony relationship expert Rachael Lloyd.
- Only show your face if they’re showing theirs. “Video dating needs to be mutual, so if your date is not showing their face on a video call, see this as a warning sign and consider hanging up. Even if they say they are having connection problems, making sure that you are safe and that they are who they claim to be should be a priority, so don’t feel bad,” she explains.
- Know you can end the call whenever you want to. Rachel says you shouldn’t feel you need to stay on the call if conversation has fizzled out or you realise you have nothing in common – or if you feel that something is off/you are uncomfortable. “Politely thank your match for their time and bring the call to a close,” she says.
- If you’re suspicious, report your match. If something doesn’t feel right, report inappropriate or suspicious behaviour rather than just blocking and moving on. “Doing this will make sure other people aren’t having the same problems with the same people down the line,” Rachel adds.
- Take a look at their social media – and your own. Natasha Briefel at Badoo suggests you check your match’s social media if it’s linked to their profile so you can be sure they’re who they say they are. She adds, “Similarly, make sure your own social media doesn’t give anything confidential away, as they might check you out, too.”
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