Coronavirus has been a double-edged sword when it comes to online dating. Pro: You suddenly have plenty of time to read profiles, swipe and message with potential matches. Con: As restaurants and bars start to reopen in many place across the country, it could still be a while until you feel comfortable hugging a stranger to say hello.
So what do you do when you find a person on a dating app or website who seems interesting? Or for some people, a first date may have already happened … but now that second date is on indefinite hold. Instead of letting a potential partner pass you by, why not arrange a virtual date?
From happy hours with friends to work conferences, everyone is turning to video calls for a sense of normalcy. Even online dating has incorporated the trend, with apps like The League and Match launching video features (Bumble already had one) so daters can chat “face-to-face” without exchanging their personal information.
Of course, it can feel quite awkward to video chat with someone with whom you’ve only exchanged texts or messages. Instead of relying solely on conversation, why not arrange for something to do, even though you’re physically apart?
A bit of friendly competition will make any digital date more fun. Visit a website Gamesgames or the app Houseparty, and find a two-player game, anything from poker to word puzzles, to spice up your Zoom session. And to make sure the stakes are high enough, let the winner get more than just bragging rights — loser has to buy the first round of drinks when you can eventually meet in person!
Since you likely live around the same area, why not order dinner for each other? Pick a delicious dish from your favorite restaurant in town and have your date order it for delivery, and you do the same with their selection. You can FaceTime while you eat dinner, chatting about their selection for you. And as a bonus, you’ll be supporting local restaurants.
Another taste bud-friendly option is heading to the virtual bar — in this case, your respective kitchens. Find some cocktail recipes you’ve been wanting to try and chat over Zoom while you make and sample your choices. In no time, your conversation will be flowing as freely as the drinks.
And while going to the movies may not be an option, your living rooms can serve as the theater. Take turns picking a movie and watch together via Netflix Party, an app that synchronizes the video and allows you to converse via group chat. Make sure you both have plenty of popcorn and candy, and you’re all set.
Other options include getting a virtual tarot card reading (maybe you’re curious what your future holds… maybe you just need a laugh), doing an online yoga class together, or touring The Louvre or another museum offering online exhibits. If you want to get artsy yourself, you can even find a drawing tutorial (Bob Ross, anyone?) on YouTube and see whose masterpiece best matches the original!
While nothing can take the place of a face-to-face meeting, there are plenty of ways to get to know someone better without even leaving your home. The key is to break from the norm, no matter how silly it seems. After all, nothing is normal nowadays!
So the next time you swipe right on a potential match and texting grows boring, suggest a virtual date. Who knows? It may lead to something much more.
This article originally appeared on the Tribune News Service.