Try These 5 Virtual Dating Tips Next Time You Have Another Zoom Date

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If the past year has taught us anything, it's that no matter what occurs, people will keep dating. Not in the same way, and maybe not to the same degree, but the search for love stops for nothing. Still, not being able to date face-to-face has also meant learning a whole new set of dating skills — and, let's be honest, we're probably all in need of a few virtual dating tips because online dates are just different.

Dating virtually comes with its challenges, especially when trying to form a real connection, as Connell Barrett, Dating Transformation founder and dating coach with The League tells Elite Daily. "Because you’re not in each other’s physical presence, it’s harder to ignite chemistry. You can’t touch each other, smell each other. It’s a less sensory, less tactile experience," he says. Then, of course, there are the technical glitches that seemingly always happen. "There's always, always the audio issue. And the video issue. Sometimes technology just doesn't work, and internet connections can get disrupted, making for a more frustrating experience than traditional dates," Cherlyn Chong, dating and breakup coach and host of the Why Women Love Toxic Men Workshop, tells Elite Daily. But virtual dating also has its benefits, adds Chong. "One great advantage is that you don't have to expend too much energy to talk to your date. There are no worries about getting stood up, safety issues, or trying to be comfortable in an unfamiliar setting. It's very convenient." Plus, as Barrett points out, when you do connect it tends to be on a more emotional and intellectual level. "Without physical, in-person connection, you’re forced to really listen and find emotional commonalities. Zoom dating makes it less about hormones and the physical and more about connecting as people," he explains.

While taking your love life virtual might not be the traditional way to meet and fall in love, there are still plenty of reasons to give it your best shot. Trial and error is one way you can learn to get comfortable dating via Zoom and FaceTime, but why not skip the awkwardness by asking an expert? Here's how they say to take your virtual dates to the next level.

1. Get ready the same way you would for an IRL date.

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Listen, I get it, I too have spent the last 365 days in sweatpants. On date night, however, it's time to put on real clothes and get ready in the same way you would for a traditional date, says Barrett. “You want to look first-date great. That means no pajama bottoms! And no sweat pants," he cautions. "True, people will only see your face and upper body, but looking sharp head-to-toe will make you feel more attractive, giving you a confidence boost your dates will notice.”

2. Set the scene.

One of the real benefits of a virtual date is how much control you have over the atmosphere and the way you present yourself. “On video, lighting can make you look hot — or not,” says Barrett, so keep that in mind. “To flatter your features, use a lamp that emanates soft, diffused light, and place it even with or slightly above your head level. If the lamp is too far above or below you, it will cause shadows,” he explains. His advice is to do a quick test shoot to make sure you feel your most confident and happy with the look.

3. Pick your background intentionally.

It's not only you on camera, so Barrett suggests using your background to your advantage as well. You can use it to show your date a little bit more about who you are and even keep the conversation flowing. “Choose a setting with an intriguing backdrop — art on your wall, a well-stocked bookcase, your Smurf figurines, whatever. Having some cool stuff in the frame gives your date something to ask you about, which helps the conversation go smoothly,” he explains.

You can even show your date around a bit if you feel comfortable, adds Chong. “Introduce your date to a home 'showcase.' Tell stories about your kitchen cabinet, usual decorations, and even your pet cat. The way they comment about your stuff will give you a sense of who they are and what they like,” she suggests.

4. Have a back-pocket topic.

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One of the benefits of a face-to-face date is that, when the conversation lags, you can talk about the things going on around you. That's not the case with a virtual date, however. This is why Barrett says that having a topic handy for when the conversation lags can help avoid those awkward silences. “For example, if it’s a cold winter day when you have your date, you might be ready with, ‘If we could be somewhere tropical right now, where would it be?’ Even if you don’t use it, a back-pocket topic relaxes you, letting you better enjoy the Zoom conversations,” he says.

People also love to talk about themselves, so Chong says it's also helpful to have those types of questions ready, particularly unusual ones that'll require your date to think a bit. “You'll get to know your date in specific ways more easily. Also, the answers you give are bound to prompt laughter, making the date more enjoyable rather than awkwardly thinking of what to say next,” she says.

5. Keep it short and sweet.

Have you ever heard that it's best to “leave them wanting more”? That’s true when it comes to virtual dates as well, which is why Chong says to keep them short and sweet. “One hour should be enough time. Making it too long puts more expectations on the next date. You want to spread it out more and experience each other in chunks,” she ways. Chong adds that you don't wait too long to meet IRL, when and if it's safe to do so, as that's the only way to make sure you're truly compatible.

At the end of the day, virtual dating might be different from what you're used to, but don't let that stand in your way if you’re looking to meet someone. Like regular dating, what you get out of it really does come down to what you put in. “Dating on Zoom can be really fun if you know how to prepare for it. Don't set yourself up for a boring date. Make the effort, and you'll find your time very well spent,” concludes Chong.

Experts cited:

Connell Barrett, Dating Transformation founder and dating coach with The League

Cherlyn Chong, dating and breakup coach and host of the Why Women Love Toxic Men Workshop