Virtual dates are now a necessity where once it was a novel idea. FaceTime, Zoom, Google Hangouts, you name it—online dating via video apps are a way to connect when you can’t physically connect in a socially distanced world.
It’s obviously not the same as a real date in person, but it can still be fun. Virtual dates can actually feel more intimate, if you do it the right way.
Here to help is CEO and co-founder of dating company Lunch Actually, Violet Lim. SG Magazine asks the dating expert for some essential tips for a romantic night in, no matter whether you are a quarantined single or in a long-distance relationship.
Q1: Most of us are familiar with pre-date rituals for an in-person date, for example, taking a shower, doing a light workout, listening to your favourite playlist, etc. But are there any unique and essential pre-date preparations one should do for a virtual one?
Yes! It’s important to know that a virtual date is still a date, and you’d want to make a good first impression.
But there are some pre-date preparations you should take note of to make sure your virtual date goes smoothly.
First, have a nice background. You wouldn’t want to show your bedroom or bathroom as your background on a first date, so find a spot with a nice background where you can show the best first impression.
Second, have good lighting. This is important because with bad lighting, your date may not be able to see you at all. Best is to have natural light in front of you, such as in front of a window or in your balcony, and NOT right behind you. But if natural light is not possible, then you can place a lamp in front of you.
Third, have a good Internet connection and test your equipment. It’ll be frustrating if you both can’t hear each other because one party’s connection is lagging. So before a date, make sure you have good and stable wi-fi and test your camera, headphone and/or speaker beforehand to make sure you have your logistics all settled.
Fourth, get the right camera angle. Position your camera so that it is at eye level— not too low or too high. This also leads to the next point, which is eye contact, because you want to make sure you’re looking at his or her eyes as if you’re talking on a real date.
Last but not least, get comfortable. Choose a spot in your house where you feel comfortable. To help with the mood, you can even make yourself a drink so that even though it’s online, it can help loosen you up and get you in the good mood to know someone better.
Aside from logistics, you can also prep yourself mentally and do your usual pre-date ritual to boost your self-confidence, like putting on your favorite playlist to help you get into a happy mood.
Credit: Kevin Laminto/Unsplash
Q2: How can you elevate a date to more than just talk and not feel like a work call?
I know we have zoomed a lot in 2020—for work, meetings, brainstorming—and the idea of sitting in front of a computer makes us feel like we’re still in a meeting instead of a date session.
So lighten up your virtual date by setting up a virtual game night or a themed date to make it more fun. Allow yourself to be more open, relax, and approachable!
There are many ideas that singles can do to make a virtual date more fun, instead of just looking at your date through the camera for hours.
For example, set a theme and change your virtual background according to the theme, such as a favorite holiday destination or movie. Then you both can exchange stories and talk about it.
You can also do a cook-off together while having a light conversation, or watch a movie together with a share-screen feature.
Q3: Any tips on looking good virtually for both him and her? Is it ok to wear only half an outfit?
You should definitely still dress up even though it’s a virtual date. Wear something that shows your personality or any outfit you feel most confident in!
For ladies, put on light makeup and wear a nice top or dress. For gentlemen, wear a clean shirt and make sure your hair is neat.
Feel free to wear accessories as well, for example, a nice necklace or earrings for ladies. Your date will be impressed that you’re putting in the effort to look your best on the date.
It’s good to wear a pair of nice pants and not just focus on your upper half of the outfit, because we’ve heard stories of our clients who had to walk away or stand up for a while and they forgot they were wearing pajama bottoms! It’s good to minimise this possible scenario.
Q4: What are your thoughts about using a fake background?
I think it’s a great alternative. It’s understandable that you may not be comfortable showing the inside of your house to new people that you meet online on a first date. Or, if your background happens to be messy or it’s just not ideal, you may even give a negative impression if that’s the first thing your date is going to see.
So feel free to use a virtual background like a cosy living room, scenery, or maybe your favorite setting. Just make sure that your virtual background fits perfectly and looks nice with you on the screen.
It may even help you to feel more like an actual date. It’s actually a great way to bond and break the ice, because you can ask each other about your virtual background, tell stories and have a themed date where you both showcase different things that relate to the theme. Be yourself, but be creative!
Q5: Ladies may be physically safe on a virtual date but are there things they should look out for to protect themselves?
Of course! Even though a virtual date is way safer compared to meeting in person, we still encourage singles to always bear in mind that there are a lot of scams, blackmailing, or phishing that could happen online.
When we arrange a virtual date for our members, we always use a safe medium such as Zoom with password-protected rooms.
Credit: Victoria Heath/Unsplash
For singles who may be meeting people from their own dating apps and arranging their own virtual dates, remember to never ever click on suspicious links from someone that you met online.
In some cases, when your date won’t turn on their camera to show themselves, please don’t show yours. You can end the conversation and log out every time you feel threatened—either verbally with inappropriate conversation or if they insist you do something you don’t want to.
We also advise them not to share any private information like IC number, bank details and even contact number if you’re not comfortable. And never ever transfer money or send sensitive or incriminating pictures to someone that you’ve met online, no matter how charming they may act around you.
Improve your dating skills
Need more dating tips and tricks? Check out Lunch Actually’s four-part matchmaking series Match Me If You Can on Lazada Singapore.
The show is currently on its third episode this week, and will be live-streamed on LazLive on the e-commerce platform on Feb 3, 9pm. The fourth and last episode will be shown on Feb 10, 7pm.
The interactive series features two singles where viewers were invited to submit their profiles for a chance to be matchmade with the featured bachelor and bachelorette. Catch the following episodes as they prepare for their first date, from wardrobe audit to conversation skills.
Viewers can pick up dating tips and grab free vouchers given out during the live stream. They can also sign up for Masterclass sessions with accredited date and image coaches, and enjoy savings of more than 60 per cent.
More information available here.