I’m Now Convinced That Every First Date Should Be A Virtual One

This is an opinion piece that was published in Onya Magazine on 12 August 2020. Onya Magazine is an Australian lifestyle magazine founded in 2009. 

Look, there’s no pretending otherwise – global pandemics make for dismal dating conditions. There’s not a lot of options when it’s literally illegal to grab a drink at a bar, have a nice meal at a restaurant or go to the movies. Add social distancing and face masks into the mix, and you can forget about any kind of physical intimacy…

While video calling is no substitute for real human interaction, thankfully with modern technology  we can still connect with (potential) loved ones even during self-isolation. Despite the inability to meet up in person, usage of dating apps has actually surged as more and more singles turn to online dating to meet new people.

I went on a few virtual dates while in lockdown, and while it’s definitely not a surrogate for the real deal by any stretch of the imagination (unless you have a particularly stretchy imagination), I’m now convinced that every first date should be a video call.

So what are the benefits of ‘pre-dating’? Well, first dates are often likened to job interviews. But job interviews are of course the last stage of the hiring process, always preceded by the submission of a cover letter and résumé to persuade recruiters to progress further with an application.

It makes sense to have an equivalent in the world of dating, to screen the other party and determine if they’re even worth the time and effort of a rendezvous in the first place. First dates are almost always awkward affairs, made even worse if you both don’t click. But a pre-date allows you to gauge the other person and their interests – making for a more relaxed and casual in-person date when you finally do meet.

A video call also means you can say goodbye to catfishing by being able to verify if your match is really who they say they are before meeting. But more than avoiding digital duplicity, the nature of video calls means that your exit strategy is just one simple click away. Whether your date is making you feel uncomfortable or you’re just stuck feigning interest in a boring conversation, there’s now no need to have a friend call you with a fake emergency to make a getaway. Just smash the ‘end call’ button and you can go straight back to watching Netflix.

And finally, dating from home removes the guesswork from deciding what to wear on your first date. Without having to think about dressing for the occasion or the weather, you’ll both be equally well-dressed. However, this doesn’t mean you don’t need to put in any effort at all – first impressions still count, so at least change out of your PJs.

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