Dating During COVID: How to Zoom Date Authentically

Girl on Zoom date, wearing Amazon dress under $50, drinking Bishop Cider Crackberry on denim sectional couch

You guys love a good dating post. Seriously. When I put a poll on my Instagram Stories a few weeks ago, more people voted for me to do a dating during COVID series than any other topic! Since COVID gave rise to the Zoom dating arena, I thought it only necessary that my first post in the series should be about how to Zoom date authentically.

It should be known that I have yet to Zoom date successfully. Not that my attempts to Zoom date have been unsuccessful per se, more that they just haven’t happened. Every time I’ve had a Zoom date scheduled, I’ve either gotten stood up or canceled on last minute (don’t worry – we’ll discuss this later).

I guess what I’m trying to say is that my tips below are largely untested… But they’re exactly what I would do if I were to actually go on a Zoom date. I have, however, gone on a lot of first dates in my life, and I feel like that has to be an applicable skillset, right?

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Glitter & Spice Dallas lifestyle blogger on denim couch on virtual date while wearing R.Vivimos dress.

My Top 5 Tips for How to Zoom Date Authentically:

My biggest takeaway tip if you’re struggling to figure out how to Zoom date while being authentically *you* is to pretend it’s an in-person date. So just behave like you normally would for an in-person date.

Sit like how you would normally sit. Drink what you would normally drink. Behave like you would normally behave.

And remember: as much as you may want it to be, not every date will be a winner. Try not to get discouraged if your date is a dud. Instead, take some time for self care to help you brush off the bad ones, remain positive, and figure out how you’re going to get ready for your next Zoom date!

1. Get ready like you usually would for a date.

This will become more and more clear as you read on, but I took a lot of inspiration for this post from pod dating on Love is Blind. If you somehow have not seen that show, (a) I 10/10 recommend it and you should add it to your list now, and (b) the premise is basically these people have to date and prove you can fall in love with a personality – before ever seeing each other.

One big takeaway from the show that would apply to figuring out how to Zoom date authentically? Even though they weren’t seeing their dates, the contestants would get gussied up before the date. Makeup, hair, outfits, the full monty.

You might be wondering: “why bother with all of that if they’re not seeing the other person?” I have two thoughts on that:

  1. Because it’s television. Duh.
  2. Because getting ready and looking your best can inspire self-confidence, which is really attractive in a date.

SO if you’re getting ready for a Zoom date, my advice is to get ready like you normally would for a date. If you would normally do your makeup and hair, do that. Be comfortable, of course, but if there’s an outfit that gives you confidence, wear that. Zoom dating is weird. Use whatever tools you have in your arsenal to make yourself feel more confident and less awkward so your virtual date is an enjoyable experience.

And FYI: if you don’t normally wear makeup etc for a date, don’t feel the need to do so for Zoom dating. Just be authentically you!

2. Find somewhere comfortable to sit, preferably with good lighting!

All that time spent taking selfies is finally going to come in handy!

In my house, the best lighting is in the living room (pictured above) and my bedroom/bathroom. If I were to go on a Zoom date, I would 100% take it from my living room couch. AKA where I do all of my FaceTime catchups with friends. My spot on the couch is comfortable, there’s a coffee table within arm’s reach (for drinks – I’ll touch on that in a sec!), and I sit facing the bay window which lets in a lot of indirect afternoon light (facing southeast).

A quick interjection: BTW, nobody is going to care about your lighting on a date. Other than you. If bad lighting won’t annoy you or make you self-conscious during a date, more power to ya and seriously go ahead and skip this section. So much of figuring out how to Zoom date authentically is determining what levers you can pull at home to give you the self-confidence you get while out on a date IRL. So if lighting won’t bug you, skip it!

Now that that’s said, here are a few quick lighting tips:
  1. Overhead lights can make the lighting in your video look kind of funky, so try to use as much natural light as you can. If you’re doing a Zoom date at night (or after sunset), use lamps, floor lighting, and/or even candles to give you a soft glow on camera.
  1. Limit the light behind you. Too much backlighting can make you look like an outline of a human (not ideal for a date). On the other hand, not enough backlighting can make it look like you’re answering this call from a cave. This is a bit of a Goldilocks situation. If you’re nervous about your backlighting, take a selfie before your Zoom date – you’ll instantly be able to tell if it’s just right.
  1. If you’re doing your Zoom date at night, face (or 75% face) your light source. When your light source is to your side, only half of your face will be illuminated. Not ideal. As stated above, if your light source is behind you, you’ll be a ghostly, backlit figure on the screen. Also not ideal. I find that I look best if my lamp is in front of me, behind the camera and the screen.

Oh and finally: it’s definitely not weird to tidy up your background. I think of Zoom dating like having a stranger get a glimpse of my home. I wouldn’t let a stranger (or a date) see my house a mess, but I also wouldn’t spend 2 hours cleaning beforehand. As long as it looks more an-adult-lives-here than a-tornado-came-through-here-5-minutes-ago, I think you’re good.

3. Grab a drink or a snack (or both!).

Similar to dates in the real world, just sitting there and talking to a stranger on Zoom can be kind of scary / awkward. Go ahead and grab a drink or a snack – it’ll make the experience feel more casual / normal. It also gives you something to do if you need a second to collect your thoughts during the conversation (necessary right now as so many conversations are turning towards politics!).

If I were on a Zoom date, I would have a glass of white wine, my favorite cider, or a homemade cocktail perched on my coffee table.

4. Show up (virtually) and be on time.

“Show up” should really go without saying… but experience has taught me otherwise, so I included it here as a reminder. Seriously. Show up.

And now for being on time:

While it might be okay for you to be 10-15 minutes late for a date in the real world (everybody understands delays and traffic), make an effort to not be any more than 3-5 minutes late to a virtual date. If you’re going to be later than that, warn your date and tell them a new approximate time. Preferably at least 10 minutes before the date is supposed to begin.

As I mentioned earlier, my only attempts thus far at Zoom dating have all ended with me either being fully stood up or my date canceling at the last minute, so this tip hits particularly close to home. Since y’all love real-life examples (specifically my horrible dating stories), I’m going to quickly talk about the guy who canceled on me last minute.

Had he canceled 10 minutes (or more) before the date, I wouldn’t have been upset at all. Things come up, I totally understand. Had he warned me that he might need to be a bit flexible with the time, I would have understood. Instead, he confirmed the date and time less than 10 minutes before our virtual date… and then he failed to show up. I finally heard from him 15 minutes after our date was supposed to begin, and he told me he wouldn’t be able to make it anymore.

He tried to reschedule, but after how he had behaved and how he had spoken to me in our text exchange (seriously he was exceptionally cocky and rude but I was trying to give him the benefit of the doubt since we had a few friends in common), I declined. I felt like he didn’t respect my time and thus didn’t respect me.

Soooo long story short: be on time.

5. Be yourself!

I feel like I include this at the end of every dating post (if not every post – full stop), but be yourself!!

The best part about Zoom dating is that you are in your space. Your couch, your home, your turf. Unlike bars and restaurants which are typically a “neutral space”, you’re in your space. The place you call home. Hopefully, that helps you be more confident, so you can show your date how awesome you truly are.

As much as you can, behave like you normally would on a date. Talk about the subjects you feel comfortable talking about. Just because you’re on Zoom and both talking from your homes doesn’t mean you have to talk about things you’re not comfortable discussing with a relative stranger.

And finally: know when it’s time to end the date. I always have an “out” after first dates. Before COVID, I would make post-first date plans with a friend (so if it was a drinks date, I’d have dinner plans afterwards), or have work blocked on my calendar, etc.

Since we’re home now, coming up with an “out” is a little more difficult. If I were going on a Zoom first date, I would put dinner in the oven before my date. That way, when the timer goes off, I would have an excuse to end the date or I could suggest continuing our conversation over a virtual dinner (depending on how the date is going). Another option is to make virtual plans with a friend, or to just have your calendar blocked for a workout, self-care, or some other activity. Or if you want to just stay on the virtual date, stay on the virtual date! Whatever works for you, boo.

What are your top tips for virtual dating? Let me know in the comments below!

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