If there’s ever a time to try virtual dating, it’s most certainly now—given the fact that we’re all hunkered down in our houses due to stay-at-home orders in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. What’s more: Non-essential businesses have been forced to shut their doors, including bars and restaurants, which are the hotspots for in-person dates.
If you’re a single individual looking to meet new romantic prospects, virtual dating is a great alternative. It utilizes different technology platforms to meet or “date” someone you’ve been corresponding with online to move you off-line, explains Julianne Cantarella, dating coach and relationship expert. “It can also be used to continue dating someone that you may have met in person before the quarantine began,” she says. The top platforms she’s had her clients use include, FaceTime, Skype, and Zoom, but she's also had them go on a date by taking “virtual tours” of museums and zoos (yes, that’s a thing!).
Technology has played a major role in dating for the last several years, but it’s now being called upon to serve as the sole way singles are able to connect and find romance. “Many singles (especially those who live alone) are feeling more lonely and often believe that they'd be happier if they had a significant other in their lives,” says Amanda Stemen, licensed clinical social worker based in Los Angeles, California. “Also, those who were dating before being self-quarantined don't want to lose this time in their life and are looking to continue dating in any way possible.”
Considering trying virtual dating? Here are some unexpected benefits to look forward to, according to experts.
This just goes without saying—but you don’t have to take the bus or subway downtown or drive 15 minutes to a restaurant to meet your date. “Low investment of effort means you might be inspired to meet more people, thus becoming more likely to meet ‘the One,’” says Amy McManus, LMFT, Los Angeles-based relationship therapist. “The odds are, the more people you meet, the more likely you are to meet them!”
It forces you to be more traditional.
Self-quarantine essentially renders "hookup culture" useless for the time being, explains Stemen, which could reintroduce more courtship-like rituals even for those who aren't religious. “People have to take their time to get to know one another, which may increase one's self-awareness and help them gain clarity on what they want out of life and in relationships,” she says. “This could positively impact their dating life and dating culture as a whole.”
It may boost your confidence.
Some people might find that being in the safety of their own home allows them to open up more than they would on an in-person first or second date. It removes the social pressures that come along with an in-person experience, including maintaining eye contact. “You don’t have to leave your apartment, you don’t have to worry about ‘who will pay for what’ and you don’t have to worry about a kiss at the end of the date,” says Cantarella. “You just have to show up, be your genuine and authentic self, charm them and get the second date!”
It might enhance your communication.
Although virtual dating opens the door for miscommunication, since the face-to-face aspect of dating is removed, it forces you to ask more questions and seek clarifications before rushing to judgement, notes Stemen. This habit will translate well into dating in person when the time comes.
You can get ahead of the game.
With virtual dating, you can schedule several virtual dates in one week that you wouldn’t have been able to fit in your normal schedule. “This allows you to meet multiple people faster and decide who you want to continue to get to know,” says Amanda Rose, dating expert, matchmaker and founder and CEO of Dating Boutique and Prestige Connections. And when social distancing is a thing of the past you'll hopefully have some great in-person dates lined up for the future.
It’s less expensive.
“Not only does virtual dating often cost you literally nothing, but when you are trying to decide if you like someone, you won’t be swayed by the fancy place they took you for dinner, or the expensive theater tickets, etc.,” says McManus. “Also, some people have to restrict how much dating they do because it can be so expensive.”