How to connect during digital dating – and why you should dress up for a virtual date

0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
The survey found that a quarter of the people will continue with online dating – even after the lockdown ends. (PHOTO: GALLO IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES)
The survey found that a quarter of the people will continue with online dating – even after the lockdown ends. (PHOTO: GALLO IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES)

Thirty seconds is all it takes for “digital daters” to establish a connection – the romantic kind, not the Wi-Fi kind – with someone in a video-chat date. 

Online dating sites and apps are as commonly used as banking apps and now, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, you needn’t even shave your legs for a date.

In a new survey, 60% of people said they are enjoying the “new dating normal” of virtual dates conducted on video chats.

According to the survey a desktop date lasts an av
According to the survey a desktop date lasts an average of 60 minutes, compared to 86 minutes for the average in-person date. (PHOTO: GALLO IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES)

The survey of 1 000 adults, commissioned by Virgin Media, found that virtual dating has increased by 36% and a quarter of the people will continue with it in their search for romance – even after the lockdown ends and the virus is contained. 

Paula Quinsee, a South African relationship and life coach, says the downside to virtual dates is that “we have also become lazy with putting ourselves out there to meet people face to face. And for some, it’s safer to do it from behind a screen where you can easily ghost someone if you don’t want to see them again”.

South African relationship and life coach, Paula Q
South African relationship and life coach, Paula Quinsee. (PHOTO: INSTAGRAM/PAULAQUINSEE)

A desktop date, the survey found, lasts an average of 60 minutes, compared to 86 minutes for the average in-person date – and, of course, it’s much cheaper and more convenient too, without a restaurant bill, Uber charges and so on.

Alix Fox, a relationship expert who collaborated with Virgin Media to create a digital guide for singletons wanting long-term online connections, says, “the idea that the average digital dater has just 30 seconds to make a great, but speedy, first impression online might seems intimidating to many”. 

But, she adds, all it takes to successfully navigate the digital dating world is a dash of extra effort and imagination. “With a little practise and polish, it’s absolutely possible to make deeply meaningful, valuable, lasting connections online.”

The survey found that 55% of the daters felt their virtual relationships blossomed much faster than they would have on in-person dates, and about 45% were more likely to make a relationship exclusive if they’ve been on a virtual date.

Quinsee says first impressions matter, even online. 

Paula says it's important to remember to treat onl
Paula says it's important to remember to treat online dating just like you would face-to-face dating. (PHOTO: GALLO IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES)

“It takes less than seven seconds for people to make judgements about our attitude, level of confidence, professional status and personal warmth. While a face-to-face meeting gives us added opportunities (physically entering a room, shaking hands, hugs, etc.), on a computer screen, it’s only our visual image that sets that initial impression. So, yes, we can make a decision in a very short time whether we are ‘feeling a connection’ when it comes to the person on the other side of the screen,” she adds. 

Quinsee says while you can certainly feel connected to someone where there is a positive interaction and experience, 30 seconds is a short time to really determine if the person is “the one” for you. 

“That is not enough time to know if this is the ‘perfect match’ for you or whether you love the person. In the initial stages of a relationship, it’s a combination of lust, infatuation and attraction at play, before love sets in,” she says.

It’s important to remember to treat online dating just like you would face-to-face dating, Quinsee says.

“Be aware of the risks involved, such as sharing too much personal information. And if you do decide to meet in person, remember to stick to social-distancing protocols.”

Who knows, the love of your life might be a click away!

PAULA QUINSEE’S TOP TIPS FOR ONLINE DATING
1. Know what you want
That way you eliminate prospects who don’t match your criteria and open yourself up to those that do.
2. Make an effort
Just because it’s online doesn’t mean you should treat it any less than if you were meeting them in person – show up, dress up and engage and make sure your house/room/environment is some sort of tidy. Video dating gives us a peak into each other’s personal space and if it’s untidy, noisy or too distracting it can be a turnoff.
3. Be prepared
Have some go-to topics or questions you can use if there is an awkward silence or lull in the conversation.
4. Be yourself
The more honest and authentic you are, the better your chance of building a real connection with someone. Pretending to be someone you’re not is unsustainable and later it will begin to show.
5. Take your time
Get to really know each other on a deeper level, rather than jumping into a relationship for all the wrong reasons, for example, loneliness.
6. Trust your gut
If something doesn’t feel right, listen to that. Know what your deal-breakers are, don’t compromise on your values and treat each other with respect.

SOURCES: MIRROR.CO.UK, STUDYFINDS.ORG

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24