I know it’s been a while since I’ve published anything on this site. Other life priorities took precedence.
But as we all face this pandemic together, I was inspired (slash also had the time?) to share how I’m dealing with shelter-in-place as someone who is single, but dating. Dating is tricky, and I am by no means an expert. After having been in a long-distance relationship for years, however, I did get pretty good at virtual dating. It’s come in handy over the last few weeks. As we’re all virtual – and some states will be for at least another month – you may find this tips useful.
Tip#1 – Date Like It’s In-person
The main trick to virtual dates? Treat it as if it’s an actual in-person dating, regardless of the activity. Get out of those day PJs or sweats. Put on real clothing (and yes, ladies a bra.). If you would normally wear makeup to your date, put some on (I do give you permission to only do a few touches rather than a full face).
If it’s a first or second date, I even will tell one of my emergency-buddies that I’m going on a date in case I need that get-me-out-of-a-disaster call.
Tip #2 – Plan Activities
Dating is partly about sharing experiences as you get to know a person. When you’re only seeing someone on video or talking to your date on the phone, it can be easy to simply default to just having a conversation. Don’t get me wrong, conversations are great. But you’re doing yourself and your partner a disservice if you cut out the share experiences part.
There are lots of articles popping up about things you can do virtually. Do some research. As a starting point, here’s some of my favorite activities (maybe this should be my next post, with more details? Let me know if you’d like that in the comment section!):
- Play a game – There’s lots of ways to play both your traditional and video games with your partner online. If you’re more of a traditional gamest like me, I recommend Pogo (new window). You can play classics like Scrabble and Monopoly on that site, mostly for free. Or try card games with each of you having a stack of cards.
- Virtual tour – Pick something you love doing – art museums, city walking tours, etc. There’s lots of virtual tours at your disposal. During this pandemic, I even did a tour of a NASA campus during one of my virtual dates. It was fun both when the tour worked and to poke fun at some of the silly #TechFails. We started tracking how many accidental people were in the shots if you moved the screen around.
- Order dinner together – order food for deliver or pickup from the same restaurant (if you live close to each other) or from the same type of cuisine (if you’re long distance). Eating the same food while on a video call almost feels like you’re together.
- Both this and the next one can be a little hard to juggle if you’re in very different time zones. Make sure to plan ahead for these so you’re both hungry around date time. Most delivery apps allow you to schedule a delivery, so order it the morning of to be dropped off at each of your houses at the same time.
- Make a meal together – I prefer to do this for “lunch” rather than dinner. It’s a great weekend activity because it takes a little longer than the food delivery option. Set your camera up so your partner can view most of your kitchen – the idea isn’t just that they see your face, but that they know when you’re dicing and you know when they’re sautéing. I suggest trading off who picks the recipe, so you get to know each other’s preferences.
- Watch a show or movie together – this is a classic and a great standby, both virtually and in person. For virtual sharing, you can do the one-two-three countdown. There’s also plugins and apps to help you share a stream, such as Netflix Party.
- Take a walk – I love this one because it lets you get some exercise and enjoy the outdoors. Call each other on your cell phone (I don’t recommend video for this one because of unsteady motion) and chat while you walk. I will share what plants I’m see or any cute moments of families enjoying the outdoor. The trick with this one, though, is to both agree to be comfortable with silences. Don’t feel like you have to talk every second. Just remember to keep your distance from the other folk out there – with people moving try to aim for even more than 6ft!
- Learn a skill – You can take an online class together, watch a TedX, or even watch some YouTube videos. If you’re really serious about learning, you may consider watching or reading materials separately, then coming together to talk about them. Less of a date, but still a shared experience.
Tip #3 – Ask each other questions
Whether it’s via text or during one of your dates, ask questions about each other. When you can’t be together in-person, you miss out on a lot of the peripheral information you may pick up about someone. Vary your questions between being serious – Has he ever cheated on a partner? – and light-hearted – How does she organize her closet? It’s going to feel awkward at first, but stick with it and it will totally be worth it. Maybe start with easier questions and build up to more complicated ones
An extra note about this tip… let them say “it’s too complicated” if you’re texting. That’s a completely valid response. However, ask them to keep in mind that you’re interested and would love to talk about it on your next call.
Tip #4 – Share good morning/night messages
Just like you might kiss your partner goodbye before leaving for work or goodnight before going to sleep, start and end your day with your partner. When I was in my LDR, I always said good morning when I woke up (because I was three hours behind) and he said good night when he was headed to bed. With one of the people I’m dating now during the shelter-in-place order, he texts me good morning (he’s an earlier riser than me), which is one of the best things to wake up to. You don’t always need to check-in more than that, but it just lets your partner know you’re thinking of them.
Only go the route of To All the Boys I Loved and have an official “contract” on who does what message, unless you really need to. Let it be a bit more organic.
Tip #5 – Introduce each other to friends and family
Okay, I didn’t succeed in this one during my LDR. And that’s why it’s on this list. It was a significant contributor to the failure of that relationship. You can’t be in a relationship and keep your partner separate form the people who are important to you.
You could, of course, wait the months out and introduce everyone the next time everyone is in person. But why? Would you wait that long if under typical circumstances? Unlikely.
My bestie lives in a different state, and before I ever met her now-husband, but then boyfriend in person, we were collaborating for her birthday.
There’s an element of that awkward video chat introduction that will seem forced, but in the long run, it’s better for everyone.
Tip #6 – Share a calendar
Share your calendar with your partner. Having a general sense of your partner’s schedule will help you know when they’re more readily available to talk or text, when you can send them NSFW items and when to wish them good luck before that big presentation. It also helps with surprises – like a flower delivery or bonus call.
This is NOT, absolutely NOT, a way for your partner to spy on you. If you feel like it will be abused or is a way for your partner to keep “tabs” on you, then do not do this. I do not suggest this as a way to deal with trust issues.
Tip #7 – Get naughty
Sorry, Mom! I know you read this blog. But we can’t talk about virtual dating without talking about how to keep the chemistry alive.
So, do yourself a favor and get comfortable with talking dirty, sharing fantasies, and making sure your video calls are suuuuper private. If you need to work up the courage on this one, maybe combine this tip with #3. Ask questions about sexual experiences or fantasies.
Also, look into how technology can aid you. There are some cool toys ranging from stuffed animals that light up when the other person hugs it to vibrators controlled by an app on your partner’s phone (date idea!).
Tip #8 – Keep a list of ideas
Okay. LDRs are tough. And these tips can help you get through them. But at the end of the day there are things that can only happen when you’re in person (and no not just intercourse!).
Instead of staying focused on all of those things you’re missing out on, keep a list of them so you don’t forget them the next time you’re in person. If you’re worried this will become too much like a task list for your next visit, write them on pieces of paper or popsicle sticks. Put them in a jar and pull them out at random to keep both of you on your toes!