How to have a great virtual date

With a amid the coronavirus pandemic, it’s safe to say that there are single folks out there lamenting their dating life. IRL dating is out of the question for many right now, but plenty of people are still down to date virtually. 

For example, who answered the question ‘How do you plan on dating during this time of Coronavirus?’ on OkCupid said they will continue to date virtually. Many and some, such as Hinge, are creating .

While it’s not as ideal as meeting someone face-to-face, virtual dating is a great option to see how you click with someone — and honestly, there’s really no other choice right now if you’re doing your part to . Here are some tips on how to have a great (or at least “actually good”) virtual date:

Make a damn effort

Act as if the date was in person and get ready accordingly. Shower if you haven’t already that day — it’ll make you feel a lot better — and put on your favorite outfit. Even if it’s not seasonally appropriate, who cares? Wear the sundress pushed all the way back in your closet. Put on makeup if that’s your thing, and do your hair. 

It makes all the difference not only in how you present yourself but by how you perceive yourself. You’ll feel better on the date, more like your “usual” self. 

Figure out your camera setup beforehand

Pro-tip: Do all this the day before, or at least an hour before, the date starts. That way you’re not scrambling and worrying about your angles. Decide if you’re going to use your phone or computer. Put it at eye-level, if possible. If you’re using a laptop, you can place it on a stack of books. are a thing, but you can also DIY it by leaning your phone against your laptop screen (which can have its own book stack setup) or anything else you can find. 

Lighting is also an important factor. , certified sex coach and sex and intimacy expert for , shared a few tips with Mashable if you plan on having virtual sex on your date: “Set yourself up with some sexy lighting before you start the call,” she said. “Set yourself in a place you find flattering in your house. Be sure you’re not backlit by a window which can wash out your face.” 

Do something

One of the benefits of going to a bar or restaurant for a date is easy conversation starters — about the food or drinks, how cool the place is, the bartender’s outfit, whatever. Virtual dates don’t have that luxury, but you can agree to do something beforehand, say prepare a meal or get a drink, that can serve as conversation starters in themselves. Why did you cook pasta, is it your favorite food? Where’d you get the recipe? See — conversation can flow and you won’t have idle hands. 

Don’t talk about coronavirus the entire time

This one is difficult, as the vast majority of my conversations — with family, friends, co-workers, strangers — have been about the pandemic. It’s more than reasonable to talk about the massive world event changing society as we know it, but don’t take up the entire date with corona discussion.

For one, it’s emotionally and mentally draining on both sides. But you also won’t learn about your date and they won’t learn about you… which is the entire reason for the date in the first place. It will of course come up, but feel free to steer the conversation elsewhere for the sake of both your sanity. 

Expect awkwardness to happen, because it will happen

Awkwardness isn’t necessarily a bad thing and, when dating is involved, it’s inevitable. First dates in real life have their own clumsy moments, so don’t beat yourself up if your camera freezes for a moment, or if you talk over the other person. It’s going to happen! Just laugh about it and move on.

Video calls can actually be sexy 

Virtual sex experiences aren’t “less than” sex in person, according to Engle; they’re just different. “We can use our video chat functions as a fun and sexy way to have lots of orgasms while keeping others safe,” she said. “Keeping connected to your sexuality during this time of social chaos is really important for mental well-being and staying grounded in your body, pleasure, and happiness.”

And as taught us: you are your safest sex partner. So why not? If both participants are into it, there’s nothing wrong with getting off over FaceTime. 

Decompress afterwards 

Since you’re staying at home, it may feel like you didn’t “do” anything by going on a virtual date. That’s simply not true: you went out of your comfort zone (during a global pandemic, no less) and bared your soul or at least your best first-date stories on a video call with a stranger.

Recognize the work you put in in showing up for yourself and your date and take time for yourself. Take a bath, FaceTime your friend and tell them all about it, or however you relax after a date.

Social distancing won’t last forever, but that doesn’t mean we have to stop dating entirely. So if you’ve been texting someone for awhile and actually want to see their face, go for it and ask for a virtual date — they may be super into seeing your face, too. 

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