The Covid-19 pandemic presented many hurdles to dating, the main hurdle being that it was nearly impossible to meet someone in person for a long time.
Now that it’s safe to meet in person, you’d think we’d all be embracing the ability to go on a first date in person again, but research says that’s not the case.
Logan Ury, behavioral scientist and director of relationship science at Hinge, writes, "Video chat was normalized, and it's only natural that it would extend to dating, because dates can be really costly and time-consuming." A recent survey also found that 65% of Hinge users plan on making virtual first dates a part of their post-pandemic dating life, and 37% say they’d be open to entering an exclusive relationship with someone before meeting in person.
I call BS on the excuse that dating in person is just too expensive. Though dating can be expensive, first dates shouldn’t be. I prefer coffee dates or meeting for a drink for the first date, and that’s as affordable as most dates get. Let's leave virtual dating in the past. Not only is it awkward, but it also denies us access to subtle cues that convey essential information about the person we're getting emotionally involved with.
Let’s Be Honest, Video Calls Can Be Awkward
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy video calls with friends and family as much as the next person, but I think we can all agree that video calls can be awkward. It’s easier to talk over each other and miss social cues that we’d get via body language (more on that later) in a video call than in person, and that can ruin a good date before it even begins. Plus, it’s so hard to look good over Zoom!
I’m not against talking to someone before the first date, especially if you’re communicating through a dating app. I’d recommend talking to someone for at least a week on a dating app before meeting in person (safety first, duh!), but avoid communicating via FaceTime, so your first face-to-face interaction is in person where you can get a complete first impression.
We Want the Sparks To Fly
Virtual dates eliminate any physical interaction with our date, and that really takes away from figuring out if you want to see him again. Sure, we had no choice in the earlier days of the pandemic when all bars, restaurants, and coffee shops were closed, but now we can safely go out to these venues again.
It’s just easier for sparks to fly when you’re with someone in person. Nothing is quite as exciting as the way your heart flutters when your hands almost touch across the table at a coffee shop or that jolt of chemistry you feel when you both know there’s a mutual attraction in the air. This is what separates the average first date from a great one, so why deprive ourselves of physical interaction when we don’t need to?
Personally, I love it when a guy smells good. If I give a guy a quick hug and get a subtle whiff of a nice cologne, it’s game over. Scientific research proves that scent and pheromones play a role in attraction, and you can’t smell someone over a Zoom call. Plus, making eye contact in person is much more electrifying than making eye contact through a phone screen (and looking away can be flirty, and not like you’re distracted by something off-screen).
Don’t Write Off Body Language
The most important thing we miss on virtual dates is body language. We can learn a lot more about someone in person than over a video call, and body language is the main reason for it.
According to Jeremy Nicholson, M.S.W., Ph.D. (also known as the Attraction Doctor), reading body language is a crucial way to figure out if your date is attracted to you. He writes, “To relate effectively to others, you need to read your partner, get feedback about how he/she feels, and adjust your approach as necessary. Such sensitivity, feedback, and adaptation are essential for any interpersonal influence — even love. After all, the idea is to see whether you've had an emotional effect on a (desired) partner. Do they like you? Do they love you? Are they going to say yes to a date, marriage proposal, or weekend vacation?”
In short, nonverbal communication is very important on a first date to learn about who this guy is. Does your date walk into the coffee shop confidently, or is he hunched over and avoiding eye contact with everyone? Is he tapping his foot impatiently while you’re talking? Is he sitting in his chair in an open and relaxed pose? Since most virtual dates will only have you communicating with his face, this makes it impossible to read the majority of his body language. This could lead you to form an inaccurate first impression about him, and possibly even to start developing an emotional attachment to someone whom you think is different from how he really is.
Virtual dates may seem like a low-investment way to get to know someone before committing to a full-on date. But you're better off finding other ways to vet a guy before you agree to date him and leave the first sight for the first date (in person).
They say that 93% of communication is nonverbal, and that's how much you're missing when you're on a video call. Don't let yourself get invested in 7% only to find out you really dislike the other 93% later.
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