Erika Ettin: Pros and cons of video dates

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I wrote last week about what dating might look like in this unprecedented time. And last week, I was also on a Zoom call (if anyone’s business is thriving, by the way, it’s Zoom) with 39 other matchmakers and dating coaches to brainstorm what to suggest to our current clients and how the industry might change going forward.


As I mentioned, when sitting at home with nowhere to go and nothing to do, many people will not hold back on making connections online, even if those in-person dates can’t come to fruition quite yet.

First, when chatting online, the topic of coronavirus will inevitably dominate conversations. While you can, and should, address the topic of the day/week/month, try to branch out and talk about yourselves a bit. Just like, “How’s your day going?” gets monotonous after a while, so does, “How are you holding up?”

Now, here are a few reasons you may want to convert those chats into “dates,” via Facetime, Skype, WhatsApp, Zoom, or the method of your choosing (and Bumble actually has its own video technology):

· No one wants to endlessly text with someone they don’t know indefinitely without the chance to “see” them in person.

· It could actually be fun to date with a nice shirt on top and sweatpants on the bottom, both drinking your favorite beverage and showing off your stocked pantries… and not having to worry about who pays!

· It keeps the momentum up so you don’t inadvertently forget about each other when the restrictions are finally lifted.

Let’s say you do decide to experiment with a video date. Please keep in mind these pointers to ensure that you give yourself the best chance for success:

· Lighting matters. Make sure your date can actually see you. As a note, light should be coming toward you, not from behind you.

· Work your angles. It’s much better to be looking right at the camera (or a bit upwards) than downwards. No one’s nostrils look sexy.

· Dress for a first date… at least on top. And make yourself presentable (hair, makeup, etc).

· Clean up your house! Anyone and everyone will judge you if you have a dirty home. Remember that people are seeing the whole picture, not just your face.

· Turn off background noise, like a TV or loud music.

· Practice with a family member or friend first to make sure your setup is ready.

· Find a place to balance your laptop or phone rather than having to hold it the whole time.


Remember that you can only learn so much from someone from a voice or even a video screen, and there is no substitute for in-person interactions.

I have always called excessive texting and phone calls “obstacles to the first date” because it’s just one more hurdle you’re putting in front of yourself that often decreases the chance of actually meeting in person. So, please keep in mind these pitfalls of the video chat:

· Something you or the other person says might get misconstrued.

· It’s too easy to judge someone based on a characteristic that may not be important, like a vocal tic or a dead plant in the background.

· Someone drops the ball and doesn’t call at the appointed time.

· Either you or your date gets nervous — understandably — and talks too much. Or not enough. So, it’s not representative of your in-person behavior.

· Not everyone is good on the phone.

My recommendation? If this distancing period looks like it’ll be a month or less, then I would put your dating life on ice for a bit. But if it continues to be uncertain, then it can’t hurt to try these new tactics. Will they become the new normal? I can’t say for sure. But we need to adapt to the current situation.


(Erika Ettin is the founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps others navigate the often intimidating world of online dating. Want to connect with Erika? Join her newsletter,


©2020 Erika Ettin

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