Like your classes, work calls, and happy hours, dates have probably also moved to Zoom in the face of the coronavirus outbreak. Dating under quarantine comes with a learning curve. Along with "Do these earrings work?" and "How can I tell if we have chemistry?", you're also asking yourself, "How do I set a Zoom meeting?" and "Can I get away with wearing a first-date top and pajama bottoms?" And in the same way you may have prepped a first-date escape plan IRL, you're probably wondering how to end an awkward Zoom date if you find yourself 100% over it.
Sexually inappropriate behavior, lack of chemistry, or sheer boredom are all valid reasons for leaving a date. "You might start the date and be into the person, but feel overwhelmed carrying on a conversation with a stranger," modern dating coach Clara Artschwager tells Elite Daily. "You might not be into the person at all and the act of making small talk is extremely debilitating."
But these days, you can't quite dip after the movie credits, ask for the check, or claim a "roommate emergency" as an excuse to leave. Bailing is harder. There's nowhere else for you to really go since people all over the country have been staying home and practicing social distancing.
Even though cutting a terrible Zoom date short may feel more difficult than wrapping up a non-quarantine date IRL, you absolutely still can and should if you're not feeling it. Sure, you could whip out some first-date icebreakers to smooth things over or ask them to knock off all the coronavirus talk. But TBH, as Artschwager points out, protecting your energy is crucial right now. "It's our civic duty at this point to best care for our own health, and that definitely includes our mental health," she says.
"Delivering the news that you're not feeling it 10 or 15 minutes in will feel weird, but it's not huge in the grand scheme of things right now," she adds. "Make yourself your first priority, go with your gut, and rip off the Band-Aid, if need be."
Julie Spira, an online dating expert and dating coach, has a similar take. "Getting to know someone on a virtual date can go south quickly if someone starts talking about their other video dates — implying they're a serial Zoomer — or if they ask you to disrobe," Spira tells Elite Daily. If your date talking about their other matches or being sexually aggressive would have been first-date dealbreakers pre-coronavirus, then they can definitely still be dating dealbreakers now.
"If someone makes you feel uncomfortable for any reason, turn off the video chat or click on 'Leave the meeting,' and poof, they're gone," Spira says. You can just say that you need to go and thank that person for their time. Or you can tell them point-blank that you didn't feel you had enough in common to continue the conversation, Spira says. "Take the high road and wish them well if you're not feeling a connection."
One way to help eliminate future awkwardness is setting a time limit. Allocate a small amount of time for first dates, because there's no guarantee that there will be chemistry. "I believe in setting a 20-minute timer," Spira says. "This allows you to exit the date gracefully, or if things are going well, schedule another virtual date the next day at the same time, for continuity." Artschwager says you can even tell your date you have a virtual happy hour in about 45 minutes, or something similar. Either way, now you won't languish in discomfort, wondering when's the right moment to cut this catastrophe short.
And while this is easier said than done, do not feel guilty for throwing up the deuces. "Be proud of yourself that you're mastering virtual dating," Spira says. Ending a date, whether that's virtual or IRL, with someone you don't want to see again isn't always easy.
"There's an ongoing joke that we have no excuse for getting out of any call or online meet-up, because no one has anywhere to go, but I'd argue that's not true," Artschwager says. "Your health, mental and physical, is your number one priority. It's our duty to take ownership of that in whatever form it takes, including dating."
Clara Artschwager, dating coach and speaker
Julie Spira, online dating expert and dating coach