Part 3 of the Love in Lockdown series, by Dr Jordan Alexander, founder of Love Assist.
Can you date responsibly in a global pandemic?
Any normal date contravenes the World Health Organisation social distancing rules. You don’t need to be a scientist to conclude kissing would be the most efficient way to transmit Covid-19, followed closely by holding hands with or without Purell sanitizer. As officials suggest alternate greetings, bumping feet, elbows, or waving, are there creative ways to ‘virtual date’?
Today we look at how to succeed in seclusion – how to navigate the new normal of virtual dating. FaceTime, Zoom and Bumble all offer a video platform for dating. And for something different, you might try ‘blind speed dating’. You start with a three-minute ‘blurred video call’ on Blindlee, but can only ‘match’ after you’ve completed the three-minute call. Site owners say sign-ups increased 57% in March, 126% in April, and ‘matches’ have increased 180%.
As we saw in Love in Lockdown Part 1 Covid-19 Changes the Online Dating Game & Part 2 Dating Disruption or Romance Reboot?, the statistics support more sign-ups for online dating, more communication and more matches. Everyone wants someone to talk to during the Covid-19 isolation practices. And even better, it seems our authentic selves are also coming out more, and as they do, are leading to more tangible POSITIVE results. After getting Heart Smart and Relationship Ready, in Part 1, and taking time to prep our profiles and pics to be perfect in Part 2, today’s final in the series will help combat the concerns of connecting during crisis.
Confused & Concerned Daters
No one knows how long Covid-19 will dominate our lives. So rather than avoid dating altogether, let’s get smart about ‘how to date’ with social distancing. Common sense prevails as we consider ways to avoid painful pitfalls when navigating virtual dating.
If you’re a confused and concerned dater, you’ll breathe a sigh of relief being aware of these Ten Red Flags or TRAPS commonly used by online scammers. Be cautious with your personal information. Don’t share details like your address, date of birth or financial status; and NEVER send money – no matter what their hard-luck story!
I understand the fear of being scammed more than most. My first online dating experience eight years ago landed me right in the middle of a romance scam. I had fallen in love online and lost $140,000. It was the catalyst for starting Love Assist. I wanted to ensure people new to dating, had education and services to be smarter safer daters. We’ve been supporting genuine love seekers to connect during COVID-19, and agree with Tinder: “distancing doesn’t mean disconnecting.”
Welcome to the new normal: Virtual Dating 101
At Love Assist, we have Ten Guiding Principles for Dating Success. Let’s have a closer look at a few to assist you with virtual dating.
- Honesty is the best policy. ‘Keeping it real’ is a must, now more than ever. We are all vulnerable during these emotionally charged times. Be honest with yourself – WHY are YOU online? If you’re bored of Netflix marathons, and just want some company – say so! It is 100% okay to say you just want to hang out and aren’t looking for something serious. Unless you ARE … then say so! Honesty is always the best policy whether you’re face-to-face or virtual dating.
- Be respectful. Act like a good human and have kind and empathetic engagements. Manners are just as important online as off – everyone has feelings and should be treated with respect and compassion. Never ghost (leave without saying goodbye). Focus on appreciating the unique make up of our online community. And remember, what goes around, comes around: that’s Karma baby!
- Meet & Greet ASAP. The starting line is your first face-to-face meeting…not before. It’s not real (and you’re not virtual dating) until you’ve met in person. Whatever you choose as your virtual date platform, when you meet up, please give some thought to what you wear. We giggle about dating in your PJs, but what does your choice of attire say about you? That LBD (little black dress) to a casual coffee date … jeans and t-shirt at a romantic candle lit dinner. Find the balance between not over-doing it, and making an effort. Lastly, don’t be afraid to END the call/date if you feel uncomfortable or uneasy. Safety first, ALWAYS.
Now armed with some dating success principles, it’s time to set up the date. First dates can be a bit less boring and awkward if you’re ‘Doing Something’ – which also happens to be the basis of the London dating site by the same name. Imagine ‘matching’ with someone for a game of ping pong, at a pop up restaurant, or a murder mystery game. Sounds fun right? But since we are ‘virtual dating’ what might ‘fun’ look like in lockdown?
Creative Ways to Succeed in Seclusion
A cool thing about love in lockdown, is less pressure on physical intimacy – there are no expectations of sex. When we relax and are open, there is more chance of something special happening between two people – think of that ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ concept. The more time we take to get to know someone, slow down, ask them questions, the deeper our discovery of them. Why do you think the series Too Hot to Handle hits the mark right now? The show puts singles to the test: can they create meaningful relationships without becoming physical? Chemistry can build over time as you get to know each other, and while most of us don’t have $100,000 riding on virtual dating, meeting your genuine love connection is priceless.
We’ve put together a collection of creative concepts to consider for your next ‘virtual date night’ – What’s your favourite?
- Movie marathons – are ‘the ideal date’ according to 30,000 OkCupid users – it’s easy and gives you a chance to watch your favourite movies, together. When flying, my husband and I often watch the same movie, just tune in on individual headsets and screens. Netflix parties are also popular, and with a Chrome extension you can sync a text chat on the side
- Sit-down dinners – roll out the red carpet, dress up, and put on the candles – no reason to go cheap and cheerful when dinner for two is on the menu; why not add to the occasion with canapés and chat while you cook?!
- Cocktails – test your creativity with a make-your-own cocktails night – get the same ingredients and mix and match your new inventions
- Phone Apps for Two: So many choices!
- Challenge your date to an X-Box dual or try CNET’s Alison DeNisco Rayome List of Great Games for Quarantine
- Try your luck at House Party trivia
- Draw Something (& other games)
- Try old-school games – do a crossword ‘together’ (The New Yorker subscribers can do it in ‘partner’ mode); test each other with the local newspaper trivia quiz; or try Battleship (like the olden days) over a call
- Make some art – spend an hour with the Crayolas colouring as you chat – use their Free printable pages for Adults
- Virtual games – try an escape room challenge like the Peters Township Public Library (Pennsylvania) and their Google Docs Harry Potter-themed room, or The Heist, about an art thief (fees apply).
- Or go Tour a museum ‘virtually’ – like the famous works from Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain or a walking tour of the Louvre in Paris, France – great suggestions from Erin Carson
Inspired? We hope these ideas will make your virtual dating life less intimidating, and give you some confidence to try something new.
Faith & Hope
As we wrap up the Love in Lockdown series, I want to remind you that as humans, we were made for attachment. Our community comes from all corners of the globe, reinforcing the principle that love – like coronavirus – has no borders. We all need contact and connection – COVID-19 or not. So, as you make choices about who to welcome into your life, practice faith and hope in the power of humanity. Go beyond your fears and be brave with your heart as you commit to make love happen. Maya Angelou eloquently states: “Hope and fear cannot occupy the same space. Invite one to stay.” I hope you overcome your fears and put yourself out there to find your genuine love connection.
- If you’re considering ‘love in lockdown’ – Learn to be a smarter safer dater with Love Assist Online Courses & Services
- If you have a story about your online love life in the time of Covid-19? Share your stories by sending a voice memo or written message to [email protected]
If you enjoyed getting HEART SMART in this three-part Love in Lockdown series, subscribe to our newsletter and stay up-to-date with the latest in Life Lessons & Love.
Dr Jordan Alexander is Founder of Love Assist: A heart-centred business helping genuine love seekers find authentic connections.