Dating in a pandemic isn’t just difficult, it can be damn depressing. In the real world, things can get incrementally more exciting and feelings ignite both emotionally and physically date after date. In the new real world, during a shut down and required isolation, the emotional attraction may ignite, but physical fireworks are unlikely. In fact, some of us cornered in our condos and homes now wonder to ourselves if fireworks will ever happen again!
The truth is they will, and we just have to adjust our expectations for dating life during a pandemic. No doubt after this we will have a new appreciation for what we may have taken for granted in our previous dating lives.
As a middle-aged man who is serious about a relationship and therefore has been dating, this has been a major adjustment. But what are we to do? Pandemic or not, we have to recalibrate our approach if we are truly intent on pursuing a relationship.
My first realization was that “virtual dating” was the only option. Virtual wine dates that is – at least for my part. When I made the suggestion to my first date, she thought it was a wonderfully fun idea. We agreed to be equipped with a glass of wine and that I would call her at a specific time. Exciting!
What Are The Protocols For Dating In A Pandemic?
We’re all new to this uncharted world so misunderstandings about virtual dating protocol is understandable. For our virtual date, I wore a black t-shirt, albeit a nice, fitted, black t-shirt. She however, got seriously dressed up, taking all of the requisite time to do her hair and makeup. She even stood up and did a twirl for me. My date looked beautiful and I told her so, but I could tell she may have thought that I didn’t put in the “effort”. We men are understandably judged for our effort in the early days of dating, virtual or not.
I wasn’t sure if my lack of dressing up (or making an effort) was a dating fail or not, at least until the next date. This time I decided to up my game and wore a freshly pressed dress shirt. I was eager to make the right impression. When she appeared on my screen wearing a robe, she confessed she had just jumped out of a shower and apologized for her wet and “ratty” looking hair. No dressing up for me again apparently.
There’s a lot to learn when virtual dating.
The challenge is to find ways to stoke the momentum, keeping things interesting and trying to increase the emotional attraction date after date. If you don’t, things can get pretty boring after a very short time and what may otherwise have developed like wildfire in the real world, now smolders and lands you in the “stale zone” of the virtual world. If we rely on the usual small talk or even get into some deep conversations virtually, it’s only sustainable for the first handful of dates – and we may be in this for weeks to come.
Here are some of the things I’ve personally done and some good suggestions I’ve heard of, to avoid falling into the “stale zone”:
- Assign the next virtual date a specific theme ahead of time. For example, one of the themes could be “High School Life”. Come to the date prepared to tell the other person all about your high school years. Bring photos to share and have a good laugh poking fun at each other’s outdated hair styles or teenage awkwardness. This concept works for so many other great theme dates. Other themes can include movie nights where you come to the date prepared to talk about your favourite movies from different genres and reasons why. Do a share screen and watch the original trailer together. Music night themes are especially fun where you talk about your favourite artist, listen to that artist’s music, then discuss what you liked or didn’t like so much.
- How about a travel night? This is where each of you finds a YouTube video of a favourite travel spot you’ve been and then share the screen to watch it together. The person who has chosen the travel destination can mute the video and provide their own narration mentioning all the reasons they love this beach or that area of a European town for example.
- I’ve heard of friends cooking together on a date and then having dinner together. The concept is you choose a recipe that you both cook together at the same time. Then you show each other your presentation and eat together sharing your thoughts on the tastiness of that recipe.
- Along the lines of dinner together, you can even eat out by ordering the same meal or different meal from the same restaurant again compare notes on the dinner. Why not even surprise each other and order for the other person from different restaurants.
- I also know of people playing games together virtually on apps like House Party or watching a movie or TV series together. I haven’t personally done that, but I know that Netflix has an app to watch together. Tiger King anyone?
- Want to spice it up? After the appropriate number of dates and mutual enthusiasm, why not heat things up with some PG-13 or even R-rated questions. After 8 virtual dates (probably a total of 14 hours of FaceTime and solid conversations) my date and I agreed to take things to a higher level. We took turns giving each other a list of 4 sexier questions. Prior to the date she would provide the “homework” questions to me and the next date, I would provide the homework questions to her ahead of time. We both had to answer each other’s questions, so it was fair. What kinds of questions? I’ll give you an example of one she gave me: “What’s the first thing that sexually attracts you to someone?” Good question and a great lead into some fun and spicy conversation.
As I write this, my virtual date for tonight has with apologies, texted and asked that we reschedule for Saturday evening. Is she losing interest? Is she feeling this is getting stale? Who knows in this strange world of dating in a pandemic. I’ll just have to try to get a read from the expression on her face Saturday night – from my laptop screen that is.