Dating and Relationship Advice

When quarantine happened, I promised myself one thing: I would not get roped into a FaceTime date.

The entire idea sounded like the embodiment of awkward. Staring into the camera (while trying to avoid looking at yourself the whole time) and wracking your brain desperately for the next topic does not sound fun. Especially while stuck at home doing nothing of interest that could ignite a conversation!

I was talking to my parents one night about my opinion on this, when they surprised me by encouraging a FaceTime date. Their reasoning? “What else have you got going on?”

So I caved and “went” on a few virtual dates. Here’s what I learned.

Expectations Matter

I thought the worst part of a FaceTime date would be the initial awkwardness. When you start the video chat, it’s just you and a stranger, staring at each other through a device. The two of you are fully responsible for driving the conversation and have no exogenous dynamics to trigger inspiration. I mean, it’s pretty intimidating. No bonding over a menu, no talking about cocktails, no break caused by a waiter reading out the specials. You can’t point out interesting things about the public place you’re in! It’s just you two – and you two alone.

It turns out that I was overthinking it. Most of the time, these dates ended up being seamless, easy and relaxing, like Facetiming with a friend. I can't really say why and how it worked out, but it did — and it might have something to do with expectations. It's a lot easier to exceed the low bar set for a FaceTime date during a pandemic-related shelter-in-place order, than it is to rise to the occasion of a first date on the glorious island of Manhattan, where you share a stage with celebrities, politicians, diplomats, and billionaires.

You're in control

One benefit of a FaceTime date is that you have control over external stimuli. If you’ve ever had a date in a noisy restaurant, or been in a bar with unflattering lighting, you know how impactful stimuli can be.

FaceTime dates allow you to dress exactly how you want, with your own lighting, and in as quiet — or noisy — of a place as you wish. All of these things help to put you at ease and make for a more relaxed conversation.

Lastly, they’re surprisingly effective

I’ve talked to six of my friends who have been on FaceTime dates during quarantine, and they all agree: they will continue doing this even after shelter-in-place orders expire.

These FaceTime dates have helped me realize within ten mere minutes if I like someone. So much of chemistry originates in conversation: by making the conversational part of the date so central, video-dates help us understand much more quickly whether the chemistry is there. I was able to determine in a few minutes of talking with someone if we would have a second (virtual) date or not.

Imagine the possibilities if this were used in non-quarantine times. Having a FaceTime date instead of an in-person date means that you can find out more while having to do less. I can see within 10 minutes on FaceTime if I like a guy, but if I had to do it in real life, I would have to shave my entire body, unclog my pores, spritz some perfume, ride the subway for 20 minutes, and then find out if I like a guy.Obviously nothing can replicate what happens in real life — but since we’re all stuck at home until shelter-in-place orders are lifted, I highly suggest giving FaceTime dates a try. Or — as my parents would say — what else have you got going on?

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