Before the 20th century, in most western cultures, most first dates took place at family residences and were often tightly chaperoned by the parents involved. In the 1950s, it might have been two straws and a milkshake in a malt shop. By the latter part of the twentieth century decades, it morphed into the dinner and movie.
Cut to 2015, when a Time Magazine article sited that the #1 place for a first date was none other than inside Starbucks Coffee shops.
Today, well, first date locations are a little more complicated to pinpoint, as the dating seems to ebb and flow with government restrictions and the level of the positivity rate of the COVID-19 virus.
Because of this, more and more singles are forgoing the face-to-face first date entirely, choosing to meet each other and have their first dates digitally in video chats. Digital dating sites (apps and online sites) understand that some people don’t want to risk their health and safety to meet someone out in the world right now. Instead, they would rather make sure there’s some physical or intellectual connection before they take the plunge and meet in person.
Currently, sites like Tinder, Match, and Bumble all have video chat platforms. In fact, Tinder said that nearly half of its users had a video chat with a match during the pandemic, and 40% plan to continue using video even after the pandemic is over.
As a dating and relationship coach, I have to say I love the implementation of video chats into your dating arsenal. It’s an excellent way for a quick meet and greets and a full-on first date. Your goal as a smart single should be to efficiently screen in the quality partners and screen out the not-so-quality ones. Video chats are a great tool to do just that.
So here are my top reasons to consider a video chat for your next first date.
- BYE-BYE CATFISHING – Catfishing requires the Catfish to hide their true identity as long as possible to get what they truly desire. A video chat eliminates hiding what you look like entirely, making catfishing almost impossible. Sure, the person on the other end can still lie about who they are and what they are all about, but when you can see their facial expressions, read their body language, and visibly see how they answer your questions, lies are much easier to see.
- SAVE TIME & MONEY– Every time you go out on a date, you have to spend time getting ready, transport yourself to the location, and possibly pay for the event or activity. A video chat eliminates leaving the comfort of your own home and limits any ancillary costs that come with it.
- REDUCES STRESS – Most singles experience a fair amount of anxiety when they go out on a first date. A video chat should allow you to ease into getting to know someone without leaving home. Knowing that the date does not go as planned can end with a simple stroke of a key should also be very reassuring.
- IT’S SAFER FOR YOU – When you head out to meet someone you’ve never seen or met before, there is a certain amount of uncertainty. Yes, smart singles understand this, but even then, things can go wrong when there’s no history of trust between you and the person you’re meeting. A video chat allows you to build up some trust so that if/when you meet in person, you are much farther along in the dating process.
I would also like to offer a few recommendations on what your virtual first date might look like.
- ADD A FUN ACTIVITY – One of the best ways to connect with someone is not just to talk to one another but to perform a fun activity together. If you were out in the world, I might say go bowling or to an adult-centric arcade, but don’t be discouraged, but the fact that your date is on a computer screen. I still recommend trying to do something fun. Things like playing an online game, meeting each other’s pets, or singing some Karaoke together are all viable options that come to mind.
- COME PREPARED WITH SOME GET TO KNOW YOU QUESTIONS – Like any sensible date out in the physical world, it’s always good to prepare with some targeted “get-to-know-you-questions.” The questions that target on-the-surface topics about job, hobbies, family, and friends are always good. Still, they don’t forget to pepper in questions to test your Non-negotiables. I teach the process of creating this list in my Path to Love Program. Non-negotiables are the core values you must have in a relationship for it to work. The questions you come up with for yours will test these Non-negotiables and help ensure this person is a good fit for you. Questions like “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Or what are the essential qualities you look for in a partner?” are just a couple of good examples.
- MAKE IT SAFE – Before you start your video chat, I recommend taking a computer screen grab of the image your date will see from their point of view. Ensure you don’t have any personal information or imagery in the background that you don’t want a date or anyone you don’t know to see. Things to avoid showing people you meet online can be anything from how your front/back doors are locked to personal images on a back wall. Getting to know someone gives you a chance to build trust, so until you implicitly trust the person on the other end of the chat, there’s no reason to take any chances.
- HAVE AN EXIT AND AN ENTRANCE STRATEGY – If the date doesn’t go the way you planned, that is ok. Just make sure you treat the person with as much respect as possible, even if their actions may not deserve it. If you want to end the date, politely explain your feelings about the date and things calmly and politely.
- DRESS LIKE IT’S AN IN-PERSON DATE (UP TOP) – Just because it’s a digital date doesn’t mean you have to phone in your physical appearance. You never get a second chance to make a first impression, even online, so don’t waste it. Make sure you have a nice top and have your hair and make-up done. Of course, the one advantage of being on a computer screen is nobody sees much below the waist, so feel free to add flip flops to your snazzy blouse ensemble.
- THE CAMERA FRAME MATTERS – The camera’s framing is also an essential element in making you as attractive as possible. Having your face too far from or too close to the camera is one thing to look out for (I feel a shot showing a portion of your torso works best). Another critical element to consider is the lighting. Make sure it’s not too harsh or too dim. A light that makes you look your best.