Vulnerable Singles; You Don't Have To Go On Painful First Dates Anymore
We've got the dating tech, so why not use it?
F**k first dates, am I right?
Sure, they can be wonderful. You can meet someone incredible. You can experience the most exhilarating chemistry and romance that you can never replicate on any future date.
And if everything goes well, this first date could be the start of the most magical relationship you've ever had.
It's the stuff of fairy tales for the introverts and vulnerable daters out there. It would make all the anguish and anxiety worth it.
But for all the good things about a first date, there is so much that could go wrong. Here speaks a voice of experience, by the way.
You could find out your date is complete psychopathy, obsessed with making you feel emotionally and physically uncomfortable.
During the date, you could find you have nothing in common, but you still have to endure the awkward date ending.
Kiss, no kiss, shake hands.
It's a complete minefield.
When I was single and going on awkward first dates, you had to go on dates. Go to the restaurant, meet at a bar, and show the person you were real. But now there is something far easier for the nervous, unsure and vulnerable daters; video dating.
And I'm jealous of every dater right now because I might have saved myself the time, effort and embarrassment had virtual dates been a thing.
Let me help you navigate how good virtual dating is.
Tell the decoy friend to put away their phone
I've never had to employ a fake emergency phone call with a friend on a first date. That's only because I had organised what I thought was a less recognisable get-out-of-jail-free card.
I had a line. When the date was coming to an end, usually an evening movie or dinner or both, I would politely recite;
'Well, I have work in the morning. I had better make a move'.
Truthfully, I rarely had to use it, because if the date was heading south, both sides tended to recognise it.
Yet, knowing I had it in my back pocket was the comfort I needed. And it helped evaporate my nerves knowing I could exit without too much pain.
But there was always some pain. And despite my line acting as a comfort blanket, an armour to carry around during dating, virtual dating almost doesn't require you to have one.
Though you can still have these lines, you can end dates far easier when you're in two different places. It's easier talking through a screen.
To end the date, you can:
- Pretend you got a phone call and the person wouldn't know any the wiser - They can't see your phone screen if you keep it out of view.
- Pretend you have a virtual work emergency - You can pretend you're on call for your career/job/with your boss
- Pretend you got a text message or email during this time
- Pretend someone walks into the room, or someone rings the doorbell
- Pretend you lost power - And your device loses power in the process
- Pretend you lost internet connection - You can't do a video chat without internet, right?!
- Block the contact on your chosen communication path - Though I never recommend ghosting as an option, if it's extremely necessary, you can exercise this escape plan.
- Set an alarm on your phone and pretends it's for another commitment - You have to pick someone up, visit someone, tend to a hobby etc.
Keep those track pants on
A friend of mine was the pioneer in our social circle; she was the first to undertake virtual dating and show us how good it was.
I remember when she was trying to pick an outfit for her date. I didn't quite understand why. Surely, her date isn't going to see her entire outfit?
Why put in 100% effort?
I suggested she enjoyed the entire date in her pyjamas. Or without a bra on. Or the way we assume all newsreaders do. Mullet dressing; serious on the top, party and comfort on the bottom.
She laughed, thinking I was joking. I wasn't, of course. A first date is so emotionally uncomfortable, not to mention how physically uncomfortable it is in your best clothes.
Virtual dating takes this entire problem off the table.
With a virtual date, you can:
- Wear something that helps you feel comfortable that the other person won't see or know it's comfortable - Some track pants and pyjamas can look like nice slacks on a fuzzy screen
- Wear something that needs washing - If you have a stain in a spot that no one can see, but it looks nice on camera, you can get away with it on a virtual date. Unless it's a red sauce on white, your date probably won't notice.
- Wear something that smells - If your favourite shirt is a little stinky, your date won't notice. Until they make smell camera, you're all good.
- Save your good make-up and perfume for another day - Why bother with expensive make-up that melts under the light? Or good perfume? Your date won't even know if you haven't used your quality products.
- Save your good shoes and accessories for another day - You don't have to dust off your fancy shoes, belts or handbags. Your date will likely not see any such accessories on a virtual date. Or expect you to carry a handbag during the date. Which would be weird, by the way.
Cue all the things you can talk about
What often sucks the most about first dates is a lack of things to talk about. Often restaurants, movies, and crowded spaces provide wonderful conversation topics when the commonalities run dry.
We talk about:
- The food at the restaurant - Good, bad, cuisine we love and hate. The drinks, the types of cuisine you like, other restaurants you've been to, the best food you've ever had. The worst food you've ever had.
- The service at the restaurant - As much as you want the service to be good on a first date when it's bad, you can both have a laugh. Or have a shared experience to bond over.
- Other people around your date - People watching, especially when they're doing something interesting or entertaining
In short, all you have to do is look around you and find something to talk about. Or share some commonality with.
On those first dates, you need them, rely on them. With virtual dating, aren't all those distractions gone?
Well, no. There are so many things you can talk about and use as distractions on virtual dates. Some things are obvious, and some things need a little creativity to find.
These could be:
- Your date's background - What is that picture behind them? What is that cool tech hiding in the corner of the room they are in? As you aren't in the room with them, it allows you to talk about what the space is and allow them to give you a mini tour.
- Your background - The same approach applies to your background.
- A tour of your surroundings - You can give your date a house tour, a backyard tour, or from wherever you are. You can censor the surroundings if you need to; you're in charge of the video after all. A change of landscape could invoke a change in conversation and dynamic between you.
- A bookcase tour - You can take your date through a specific spot in your house with lots of conversation starters. Your DVD shelf, your bookcase, your pantry. It allows you to talk about what you like and it shows a side of your personality.
- Pets - Introduce your date to your furry friend. It's a great conversation starter and allows you to talk about your experience with the pet.
- Who else lives in your house - If you share a house with friends or family, this is a chance to show your date exactly who's in your life, all the time. It's an honest way of dating, which can help weed out any uncommitted or scared dates from the outset. If they can't handle your living arrangement, they have the chance to bail now.
- Friends and family - Virtual dating allows you to have friends and family with you during the most anxiety-ridden time of your life. Sure, they can hide away if you don't want them to meet your first date. But you can also use them as an ice breaker, or a way of creating a conversation when the topics run dry. It's great the way you can lean on them without it being weird. It's a virtual date, after all; you can't expect everyone to vacate for your date.
- Something you're working on - Show your date something you're making, like a hobby or building project. Or, if you work from home, you can show them where you work, which leads to a conversation about what you do. And then what they do, too.
Is virtual dating for you?
Let's call a spade a spade, here. Virtual dating comes with some major drawbacks.
It's a little less romantic than your classic style of dating. Especially for romantics who dream of those magical moments I mentioned earlier.
You miss out on the butterflies when your hand touches theirs. Or when a glance lingers as you excuse yourself from the date.
It's everything you wish and hope for when dating.
And it's everything that romance novels and Hollywood promise that the video world doesn't allow for. At all.
And what about physical chemistry? The smells of their cologne entwined with their own pheromones. How they hold themselves. How they express themselves and physically flirt. Sure, it's all lost.
But the anxiety and everything could go wrong? Sometimes it's worth sacrificing the romance to make sure you don't feel like a nervous wreck.
There are no perfect dating scenarios. There are problems with every avenue you explore.
But what virtual dating gives us is the hope of continuing to live our dating life despite all the romantic garbage we've endured. And it allows us to meet and socialise with people we wouldn't feel brave to meet in person the first time around.
Virtual dating allows you to try new things and you never know what might happen.
And often, that's one of the best things about life.