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COVID Chronicles: Why Matchmakers’ Like Video Dating

You might think a viral pandemic would really get a matchmaker down. And for a moment, I was concerned. Let’s face it, nothing spells trouble in the romance business like a contagious virus…

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One of my favorite things that the fast moving world of tech has produced is video chat. Now is the time to grab onto it like it’s…hand sanitizer during a quarantine! Use it to connect with your loved ones, use it to connect with people you never talk to anymore. Use it to connect with people you haven’t met yet. Use it to date!

Matchmaker Sarah Isely

You might think a viral pandemic would really get a matchmaker down.

And for a moment, I was concerned. Let’s face it, nothing spells trouble in the romance business like a contagious virus! But it didn’t take long for me to consider potential silver linings…savings for my clients in terms of time, expense and stress chief among them.

That said, after personally planning, executing and collecting feedback from many virtual dates, I see that while those are the most obvious perks, they are neither the only nor the most beneficial reasons to take your next date virtual. In short, the results have been…intriguing, leading me to identify a unique set of advantages the video date format presents. Starting with:

1. It’s good for you.

The most high trafficked hashtag right now is #socialdistancing. By the hour, we’re receiving reports that all the places we normally socialize are closing their doors, to stay inside, to keep 6 feet away from anyone and everyone. These are all sage pieces of advice during a pandemic, certainly, but consider this a public service announcement that total social distancing has ill effects on your health.

This landmark study, and research by author and sociologist Eric Klinenberg, teach that a lack of social connection is of greater detriment to health than obesity, smoking and high blood pressure. The former concluded that strong social connections lead to a 50% increased chance of longevity, and a strengthening of the immune system. Research by Steve Cole, a genomic researcher at UCLA, shows that genes impacted by loneliness also code for immune function and inflammation, faster recovery from disease, injury, and may even lengthen your life. The point?

Now more than ever, human-to-human connection matters and social distancing doesn’t have to mean social isolation.

2. Lower stakes, No shortage of potential.

Getting dressed up to meet a date is thrilling, but it can foster a fair amount of anxiety coupled with the risk of disappointment. Not to mention, some of us (many of our matchmaking clients, for example) don’t have the extra time to primp in-between deadlines and meetings, while juggling personal obligations.

I’ve found that many of my clients are embracing a lower commitment initial video meetup to assess chemistry before committing to a first date. It’s a more gentle way to dip your toe in before jumping in all the way. When there’s a chemistry mis-fire on a video chat, you can just wish the person well and push a button to log-off rather than paying for an Uber back home, or footing the bill for a dinner you wish hadn’t happened.

We won’t be sheltering-in-place forever, but for right now, in these unique set of circumstances, it can save you time and stress, not to mention costly date and transportation expenses. And who knows, you just might like it!

3. It’s not screen deep.

I’ve been hearing this a lot: Will I truly be able to make a real connection through my computer screen? I understand, this is new territory for everyone, even those of us working in the relationship space.

Picture this: you’re set up in your favorite lounge chair, glass of port in hand, house slippers on deck, dog within reach. You’re wearing your favorite things (PJs from waist down, anyone?), surrounded by the comfort of your home, and about to share that same experience with someone else.

With my clients, and across the board, we’re hearing that people feel more themselves without the distraction of noisy restaurants or bars; they’re connecting in surprisingly authentic ways and feeling more present than they typically do on first dates. And for online daters who do meet-up IRL based on a 20 year photo, or photos of a different person entirely, video dating seems to be the cure. Why some daters think it’s better:

Insight into someone else, who they truly are, what they’re really about, often comes when you see them in their home. When you engage with their personal space, and they do the same in yours.

Not to mention the sense of ease and control you both have over the situation. There is no concern over the seating, ambience, even the lighting! Everything is under your control, including how much you share. Maybe the art on your wall becomes a topic or you get to see a glimpse of their decorating style, pets, or family photos—you both consciously and unconsciously get to see each other more.

Virtual dates can last anywhere from 15 minutes for a basic chemistry check to a longer dive into one another’s likes, dislikes, histories, even game-playing, house tours, truly learning about one another. Tawkify’s virtual daters have reported first dates lasting 2 hours, 3 hours, one over 6 (which rarely happens on typical first dates!).

Editor Side Story: We had a client who showed up make-up free for a first date, for the first time ever! She shared later: “There I was, in my home, just me, and I felt more relaxed and myself on a first date than ever before.”

(They clicked, it was a yes-yes match!)

This is what dating is right now.

We’re living in a time with more people wanting to connect without compromising their standards or safety. Virtual dating provides that, especially now within the context of COVID-19.

4. It’s a more reliable chemistry test.

One of the most elusive qualities my clients desire in a first date is chemistry. In my view, that “magical feeling” we all seek is very fickle. It can show up at any time and disappear just as suddenly when you know too much.

In a video chat, you don’t have the same level of access to make the quick physical judgments that you do from an online dating photo or from meeting IRL.

Simply put, people aren’t always at their best on a first date. Video meetups lower the stress threshold. People can relax and lean into getting to know one another without feeling pressure either physically, or to provide their contact info, or to bypass all the end-of-date ‘what should we do now’ anxiety.

You can just chat, connect and worry about possible chemistry later, when it does or does not stir…and it might be even more likely to show its elusive face once you’ve had some good conversation and a chance to see a more relaxed, authentic side of each other first. When we can all leave home again, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th dates can be in-person, completely bypassing first date jitters altogether.

(#5 from the Editor)

5. You can be more creative…even a little silly.

Conversation across the table from a stranger is very rarely a totally smooth sail. We’re experimenting with date themes, games and activities on virtual dates. Our matchmakers have coordinated meal delivery of the same recipe for daters to cook “together,” helping each other sort through instructions (while checking out each other’s skills in the kitchen). 

We’ve ordered the same bottle of wine to both parties so they can open it together, discuss taste and “share” the experience. We’ve planned dates around game playing, such as custom trivia prompts and interactive card games that would be impossibly awkward to do on a first date, in a public place, but so much fun from home! You’re cooped up, but there’s no quarantine on having a good time. 

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