You don’t want to jinx it just yet, but things are looking promising: After meeting someone cute and exchanging effortless banter over text, you’ve finally scheduled a FaceTime date to test-drive your vibe. Now all that’s left to do is pull together the perfect virtual date outfit, gather some icebreakers for your back pocket (just in case) and figure out how much time to set aside for your new crush. How long should FaceTime dates last? If you cut the video chat short, you might not get an accurate gauge on your chemistry, attraction, and interest. On the other hand, a FaceTime date that’s way too long — especially if you’re not feeling a connection — could be a waste of time for both of you. Luckily, experts have figured out the sweet spot.
Before virtual dating became so commonplace, a 2019 Match survey of more than 5,000 single Americans discovered that most people (34% of respondents) believe that two hours is the perfect length for a date. For perspective, 5% of respondents want their dates to last four hours, and just 0.38% believe 15 minutes is the right length. FaceTime dates require some unique considerations, however. On a traditional date, you’d likely be meeting up for a specific activity, such as grabbing drinks or taking a walk somewhere. If things went well after you finished that first round of cocktails, you’d have the option to extend the date into another activity, like walking down the block to enjoy some appetizers. On a FaceTime date, you’re obviously limited in terms of location and activities.
With all of that considered, Erika Ettin, an online dating coach and founder of the coaching service A Little Nudge, says that somewhere between 30 and 90 minutes is an ideal length for a FaceTime date.
“That gives you enough time to assess initial compatibility but not too much time to divulge your whole life story,” she explains.
Maria Avgitidis, CEO of matchmaking service Agape Match, agrees that 90 minutes makes sense.
“If you're meeting via video, body language tends to be much more relaxed, giving more perspective in a quicker amount of time,” she adds. “If you're enjoying talking to the other person, time can really fly and you can uncover a lot of topics quickly, without the environmental distractions you would experience in person."
For daters, it seems to feel intuitive to spend less time hanging on FaceTime than you would on a date IRL.
"I think people might spend less time on FaceTime dates because there's no real context for time — it's not like you're going to cap it at two drinks or one dinner or whatever your normal benchmark is for the length of one date," says Hannah, 26.
Hannah's first FaceTime date lasted for 45 minutes, and when he ended the call, she assumed he ducked out early because he wasn't feeling a connection. So, she was surprised when he texted her an hour later to say he wanted to see her again. Over the next few days, they FaceTimed twice more — once for over an hour and once for just a half hour.
Jennifer, 30, says she's benefitted from having a clearer time frame for her virtual dates, and from keeping them slightly shorter.
"For some reason, my first few in-person dates tend to be full-out marathons," she tells Elite Daily. "I have trouble setting a boundary or knowing when it's appropriate to end things, especially if I'm having a good time (and even if I'm not). On FaceTime, I've been keeping my dates to about an hour or a little over, and I find that's the perfect length to figure out whether there's potential with someone or not, while still leaving a little to the imagination."
If that first FaceTime date goes swimmingly and the sparks are flying, you’ll likely be eager to get a second virtual date in the books. As for how long those successive dates should be, experts agree that once you’ve established a connection with someone, you shouldn’t stress so much about the appropriate time frame.
“The calls can get progressively longer, just as the dates would,” says Ettin. Avgitidis notes that this should start to feel organic rather than forced, and advises allowing the vibe and flow of the date naturally dictate the time frame.
If you’re someone who struggles to ditch a date that you’re not enjoying (because doing so makes you feel awkward), Ettin says it’s OK to establish a cut-off time for that first date to make yourself feel a little more comfortable. She recommends telling your date in advance that you have to go at a certain time so it doesn’t feel like you’re leaving the date abruptly. If you want to give a reason you can say you have a call with a friend or family member, but there’s no reason to give an elaborate excuse (which you don’t owe anyone, anyway).
“I'd recommend giving yourself an hour for the call — that way, the other person doesn't feel like you're not invested in the process or have already decided the outcome of your interaction,” adds Ettin.
Be careful with putting these time limits on your dates, however. According to Avgitidis, always having a deadline on your dates can put a damper on your ability to evaluate your compatibility.
“You have to let chemistry build without the countdown,” she tells Elite Daily.
If your FaceTime date makes you feel uncomfortable, or you simply want to bail because you’re not feeling it, there are ways to politely end your virtual hang.
Ettin recommends saying something short and simple, along the lines of "I should really get going." Resist the urge to explain why you have to get off of FaceTime, because as Ettin points out, it’s not really their business, and you don’t need to make up a lie for the sake of their feelings.
As a general rule, however, Avgitidis asserts that honesty is the best policy. She suggests saying something along the lines of, “This was interesting — I don't know if I feel a connection, but thank you for the FaceTime call. Stay safe!" Telling a white lie feels easier in the moment, but it only prolongs the inevitable. You’ll want to be honest with your date eventually, so putting your feelings out there in the moment prevents you from having to send a difficult text later on.
Here's the thing. When you think back on the best dates you've ever had, can you recall how long they were? Did they last 45 minutes or two hours? In all likelihood, you don't really remember. What does stick in your memory is likely the topics you covered, the way they looked at you, the experiences you shared, and how you felt when you got home that night. That's because it's not really about the length of time you spend with someone, but rather, how you spend that time. So, while 90 minutes is a helpful general guideline to follow for those FaceTime dates, there is no rule around how long your dates should be. Remember: only you can be the judge of whether someone warrants a little more virtual QT.
Maria Avgitidis, matchmaker
Erika Ettin, online dating coach