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COVID Chronicles: Dating In Quarantine

COVID-19 is bringing up core questions in our society around the value of connection. We’re seeing virtual connecting trending because it’s an essential commodity…

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Letter from the Editor: As many of you are experiencing first-hand, the Coronavirus is impacting all of our lives in significant ways. It seems as though a sense of unease has spread across the country with COVID-19, infecting us all with a general feeling of uncertainty. The virus, in this way, has a fool-proof contagion rate. And whether you’re single, dating, married, casual, still figuring it out, (whatever!), you feel it.

You wonder what’s coming next.

In speaking with a colleague today, we realized suddenly that there will likely be a fair amount of breakups as the situation develops. There’s nothing quite like forcing two people into a confined space with no escape to test commitment and compatibility for weeks on weeks, is there not?

It’s true, no matter what your relationship status may be, this is uncharted territory. The proof is in the petri dish—we’ve seen virtual dating go from trend to king-of-the-mountain right before our very eyes. It’s enough to give you whiplash! But don’t fret, we’re here to help. Which is something I feel we’re uniquely positioned to do, aided by our long collective experience in utilizing digital tools and concepting to construct what we know today as modern matchmaking. It started here, so yes, it’s been a truly fascinating week! Not only at Tawkify, but in the entire dating space.

We want to tawk about that.

We’ll start by interviewing our very own king-of-the-mountain, Kenneth Shaw, Tawkify’s Co-founder and CEO. Here, we talk about what’s going on right now, what we’re doing in response, and a series of other tantalizing revelations you must read on to discover.

Take care, Valerie Presley, Editor of Heartalytics

VP: Kenneth, what a week it’s been! I know you’ve had an interesting vantage point, so I want to start BIG…in the midst of social distancing, what’s the impact on dating climate?

KS: That is BIG, Val!…I would say that it’s raising peoples’ awareness. COVID-19 is bringing up core questions in our society around the value of connection. We’re seeing virtual connecting trending because it’s an essential commodity, now more than ever.

VP: True…I’m curious, how do you think we’re adapting? I mean, these are big waves.

KS: They are….But while social distancing is indeed new in this sense and in these circumstances, it’s not such an unprecedented moment for us…it’s not unfamiliar.

“We’ve been concerned about social distancing for years, long before COVID-19 hit. It’s been front of mind, it’s exactly the kind of problem we work to mitigate.”

Also, we started as a service where people connected on dates over the telephone.

VP: This is the ah-hah moment in which everyone realizes where the name Tawkify comes from.

(laughs)

KS: That’s right, it was a play on talk! We ended up curating real world date experiences because so many of our clients liked each other enough on the telephone to meet in real-life. When I look back, I see that our product pivoted largely as a result of intrigue created over a virtual connection.  

So our experience in the “digital” connection world is long-standing. Not only regarding telephone dates, (which like video, creates a separation between two people in the introductory phase), but also in that literally we’ve been setting up clients on video dates for years, as well as using Zoom in our business to connect with one another. As you’ve seen, it’s a powerful tool.

VP: True.

KS: Right, so we like this type of connecting. Specifically concerning dating though, we’ve found that the video platform provides a lot of immediate benefits.

VP: I’m writing an article about that, Kenneth!

KS: OK, so you already know some of what I’m going to say?

VP: Probably, yes.

(laughs)

KS: Basically, we’ve found video dating to be a fun and effective option for first dates, or, introductions as we call them. There’s less pressure and a better sense of control. We’re all super busy—even in quarantine. With a video date, you spend as much or as little time as you want, and everyone is comfortable enough in their own space to relax and really see if there’s a connection to be made. It’s amazing how well it can go; we had one that lasted for over 6 hours last week! They walked their computers doing full house tours, talked each other’s heads off, cooked together…that would have never happened on a traditional first date.

And of course, there’s the intrigue and suspense…the unique quality of connecting in a non-traditional way.

VP: How’s it been going though? I mean, we never set up THIS many virtual dates before. How is everyone responding to this?

KS: I’m inspired by what’s been going on. Some clients are happy about no travel commutes, the ease of meeting up, the sense of security in their own homes.

We had one client who was reluctant at first, but their virtual date lasted 3 hours. They’re going to keep “video dating“ until they can get together IRL. Others have drawn comparisons to the popular Netflix series “Love Is Blind”… I can’t help but imagine all the virtual dating love stories about to unfold, Val!

Basically, I’m encouraged by the response so far…we’re going to keep learning and making this a fun and worthwhile time to date, quarantine or no. Even when we can resume primarily in-person introductions, I think some daters will want this as part of the mix.

VP: I do wonder though…what about those who are skeptical about dating virtually right now. What say you to those clients?

(laughs)

KS: I say to them…no problem, we get it! Some daters won’t be into it, and that’s OK. There’s so much change happening, it’s a normal response to change, to feel resistant, or even to just go on lockdown in times of uncertainty. This is not an easy time for anyone.

We just hope that clients who start to feel isolated and start needing more connection, will keep us posted and be willing to give this a try. Based on early feedback, I think they’ll be pleasantly surprised. It’s something you can lean into gradually, there’s no rush.

VP: Love that. Power to the dater!

(laughs)

VP: Where else do you see virtual connecting popping up right now?

KS: Everywhere people are wanting to connect! I’m keeping up with the viral video content daily. From Italians singing sonnets out of their balconies to TikTok videos of kids homeschooling. It’s been super inspiring to witness people’s creativity. One of our matchmakers Lori Cashman Irwin made this heartwarming “Love Can’t Be Quarantined” video, and people literally cried when they saw it.

“Matchmaker Sherrie Adams, created the ”Quarantini” video date concept, everyone was charmed and we’re all waiting on the recipe.”

VP: Let’s all get together and do a virtual toast with a group Quarantini!

KS: Oh, definitely!

(laughs)

VP: In all seriousness, (not that I wasn’t completely serious about the Quarantini), what is the big goal here for Tawkify? Is it virtual date by virtual date, or is something more global going on here? What are you thinking about, right now, that matters most to you?

KS: That’s tough…I’m thinking about a lot of things right now. But really…I want us to bring some levity to this whole thing because it would be easy not to.

I want us to be able to make someone’s quarantine experience a little bit better by “sending them” somewhere else, with someone else, for however long they choose to be sent.

And if they make a human connection, maybe even a potential romantic connection, I say, job well done.

VP: You’re a ray of sunshine, Kenneth Shaw, you know that?

KS: I’ve been told.

(blushes, laughs)

VP: This isn’t our last conversation about this, so let’s wrap this one up with something people can use…how can people set themselves up for a good virtual date?

KS: Hmm…good one.

Think about how you can enhance the moment. Focus on how you’ll show up to the other person. Is there a pile of laundry behind you? Clean it up or move to another spot! Pick a nice corner that’s comfortable. Put a smile on your face, look into the camera to make “eye contact.”

(Try not to look at yourself the whole time, weird.)

Choose clothes that offer enough contrast on screen to frame you well.

VP: Great tip, that one. And LIGHTING.

KS: Yes, lighting. Lighting plays a big part. If you’re using Zoom, be sure to check your settings and click on the enhancement option. You want to think about lighting in the room, be sure it’s in front of you and not behind you keeping you literally in the dark.

The lighting in the room, the framing of your screen, the serenity of your home—all of this adds up to the image you’re projecting. You want to create a situation that promotes a natural flow of conversation, which is certainly more likely when you’re physically relaxed and present. A Quarantini or a nice cup of tea doesn’t hurt.

Also, consider ideas to keep the conversation going. We recommend coordinating wine or meal deliveries to partake of the same experience at once, and discuss. Perhaps pick a trivia category, or conversation-starter card deck, there are so many cool ones out there! We love planning games and activities for clients on these dates that gives them a place to start.

VP: It’s a whole new kind of date concept for us to iterate on!

KS: Yep! There are fun, good connections to be made during this weird weird time. We’re here to support, inspire, and help connect you with some kindred spirits along the way.

VP: Kenneth, this has been great, I’d like to talk to you more about this in the weeks ahead. I feel like it will still be relevant, OK?

KS: I’ll be here.

(smiles, goodbyes)

VP: Stay tuned for expanded articles, expert tips, and successful virtual dating stories to guide and inspire you through the coming weeks. You can’t leave home, but we’re not going anywhere.

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