Iso-romance: How to make the most of digital dates

Dating from the confines of your home during a global pandemic doesn’t exactly scream romance, but virtual connections might just be the dating shake-up you need.

We’re at that point in coronavirus self-isolation where no one knows what day it is or how long we’ve been in lockdown, and even the healthiest of relationships are being tested.

If you’re single, however, this could be the perfect environment to give online dating a shot.

With boredom and loneliness rampant, it’s not surprising that dating app usage has been on a steady incline since lockdown was enforced. In late March, Tinder reported a record 3 billion swipes in 24 hours.

A key benefit of virtual dating is being able to take things slowly.

“Dating online gives you plenty of time to get to know someone without physically meeting them,” says Relationships Australia Victoria clinical services general manager Anastasia Panayiotidis.

“You can build a friendship so by the time you can physically meet, you’ve built the foundation for a relationship.”

Scoping out one another prior to meeting is nothing new, but having your first date over FaceTime certainly is.

So how can you put your best foot forward during virtual dating?

Dress the part

You might be working from home and a tracksuit may be your new workwear, but present well for your digital date, says relationship expert and dating coach Samantha Jayne.

“Be the best version of you,” she says.

Make your surroundings conducive to romance

“Make sure your surroundings are neat. Don’t have a mop or vacuum cleaner in the background!” says Samantha.

Set up your laptop or tablet opposite a window or use a lamp to light your face.

Put your laptop on a couple of books so you are on eye level with your date.

Be natural

“Try to be yourself,” says Anastasia.  “Nerves are normal so maybe do some deep breathing to help you calm down before you chat.”

Try to imagine you’re chatting to a friend who is sitting opposite you.

Prepare some conversation starters

Have some questions ready to keep conversation flowing.

Ask your date about their favourite holiday or find out what they like to do on an ideal weekend.

“But don’t treat it like an interview. Give your date a compliment and be curious about them,” says Samantha.

Plan some things to do

You can’t physically go out to dinner but you can enjoy a meal together on a digital date. Arrange to eat together at the same time, or enjoy a glass of wine together but apart.

“Cook together or watch a movie together on your date,” says Samantha.

“Or do an online tour of museums and zoos around the world.”

You could also play online trivia or other games.

Set boundaries and stay safe

Basis safety measures are important, says Anastasia.

“Do not disclose your physical address or where you work, and don’t give money away or your credit card details,” she says.

Don’t do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, and if a conversation makes you feel uneasy, wrap it up.

Let your date know that you’ve enjoyed their company but you aren’t wanting to take things any further.

Written by Sarah Marinos.