Self-isolating for the indeterminable future - though necessary - is a less than ideal situation for anyone.
But with so many digital alternatives out there for everything from fitness classes to live-streamed concerts, we seem to have most of our bases covered. For those of us who don’t have a significant other to isolate with, dating doesn’t have to take a backseat either.
If anything, digital dating seems to have flourished under the circumstances. Since the lockdown, Tinder has reported an increase in daily conversations on the app by 12 per cent and over over three billion swipes globally on Sunday, March 29, that's more than on any other day in the history of Tinder. It's a similar story with Bumble, which has seen a 35 per cent increase in messages sent since social distancing came into play.
Nothing quite beats the thrill of getting dressed up and experiencing someone in the flesh for that first date, but there are still many perks to dating from the comfort of your own home with the help of your video messaging app of choice.
We caught up with expert dating coach Hayley Quinn to get her top tips for navigating virtual first dates with your lucky swipe-ees.
Presentation is Everything
Whilst you may be tempted to carry your WFH set-up over to your video chat, try and be mindful of first impressions. Your surroundings will give some indication of your overall lifestyle so make sure there isn’t not an unmade bed or an ironing board in the background. It’s also worth setting up your laptop opposite a window or with a desk lamp to have enough light on your face. By raising your laptop on top of a couple of books you'll also be able to chat to someone at eye level which is more flattering.
Talking is an opportunity to connect not just an exchange of facts, so be mindful to not go into interviewer mode and reel off a bunch of small talk questions like, 'so what do you do?' You also don't have to be constrained by talking about what's happening today; be prepared to talk to your date about your plans for the future or what your hobbies are when not under lockdown.
If you find yourself scheduling virtual dates with the same person often, there are so many ways to keep things interesting. You can play games (Charades or Never Have I Ever are good favourites) or re-create a dinner date by both ordering the same deliveroo. You can also try double dating with flatmates or friends to build more intimacy - Houseparty is great for this. Sharing on-going games whether it's scrabble or swapping video diaries of your days under quarantine can also be a great way to keep building your closeness as is making plans for when self-isolation ends.
Be clear about boundaries
Be cautious of people who try to push your personal boundaries or encourage you to do something you're not comfortable with, such as making the conversation too sexual too soon, or trying to convince you to break lockdown to meet them.
If your chat does become sexier, seek enthusiastic consent from the other person before removing any clothes or asking for pictures! If you can build trust and connect over a series of weeks the flirtation will be a natural follow on to that.
Know when to call it quits
Try to keep that first date short and sweet and if at any time you feel uncomfortable or unsafe it is always okay to end the chat. If it’s just a case of sparks not flying, make an excuse (maybe dinner’s ready?) and let the other party down gently if they suggest a second virtual date. Of course if you are keen to speak to them again, make it clear you enjoyed the chat or send a nice follow-up message later on. Dating from the comfort of your own home really is as simple as it sounds and an exciting way to build up to the moment you finally get to meet your date post-pandemic.
For more dating tips head to hayleyquinn.com/