Relationship expert Alix Fox, who has created a digital guide for singletons looking to make lasting connections online, said: “The idea that the average digital dater has just 30 seconds to make a great, but speedy, first impression online might seem intimidating to many.
“Which is why I’m proud to have partnered with Virgin Media to pass on tips to help people master those all-important first few moments of an online rendezvous.
“Sure, successfully navigating this brave new digital world takes a little extra effort and imagination, but those are qualities that are prized in a partner; with a little practice and polish, it’s absolutely possible to make deeply meaningful, valuable, lasting connections online”
The research also found that 55 per cent of daters surveyed felt their virtual relationships blossom much faster than they would in person.
And 45 per cent are more likely to make a relationship exclusive if they’ve been on a virtual date.
A third (34 per cent) of singletons are also less likely to date multiple people digitally at once than they might have done previously.
But while 44 per cent of men said they’re more likely to delete their dating apps and focus on one potential partner than they would prior to lockdown, just a quarter of women said the same.
And although men would say ‘I love you’ after 22 virtual dates, this went up to 30 for women.
TIPS FOR VIRTUAL DATING FROM ALIX FOX
Choose your setting
While it can be hard to get yourself ready for a date in the same place that you’ve been working from home all day, showing your real-life surroundings on a video call gives a more genuine, authentic impression than using a digital background. Create a new atmosphere for your evenings by switching up the lighting to give you a more relaxing space. Set an alarm to play “date night” music, to prompt you to get ready and get in the zone. Just be mindful of sharing visuals that could reveal information about the exact location of your home, like views from windows whilst you’re still getting to know your date.
Be punctual and present
When an arrangement is more “URL” than “IRL”, it can be tempting to feel it’s fine to dial in behind schedule, but it’s important to respect your date’s time, and show effort. If you were out at a bar or bistro, you wouldn’t let your mates invade your date and take over the talking, so pop your mobile or laptop on Do Not Disturb to avoid being interrupted by streams of pings, dings, WhatsApps and texts.
Test the waters
Another plus-point about video dating is that you can arrange a short and sweet 15 minute “taster” call the first time you chat to someone, so you’re not committed to feigning interest for hours if they turn out not to be a match. But make sure your manners are always 10 out of 10 even if your date is not The One; don’t hang up or make it obvious you’ve mentally checked out, as your date may well become a valued mate (or have a better-suited pal they can introduce you to).
Cut out Covid
While coronavirus is front of mind for many of us, but you don’t want it to entirely infect and direct your every conversation. You and your would-be sweetheart could both agree to bring along a handful of items from around your houses that have an entertaining story attached to them, or say something about your tastes, passions or personality: make the most of the at-home visual format with a virtual show and tell.
Connection is key
Make sure you have great Wi-Fi. Stuttering, spluttering, stammering connections that keep dropping out create awkwardness and hamper conversational flow. You don’t want the punchlines of your jokes to be missed, or for the screen to freeze mid-sentence so you’re open-mouthed and eyes closed… no-one wants to hold that look for any length of time. A great internet connection supports a promising human
Show them you’re into them
Relax! Your virtual date can’t smell your cologne or feel you touch their hand, so visual body language and facial expression are all the more important to get your vibe across (especially if you fancy them). Hold eye contact; gesticulate; smile broadly; lean into the camera; there’s no need to look like a mime artist, but it’s worth slightly amping up the expressive elements you have at your disposal to make up for those that are AWOL.
Make sure your chat is on point
Ask interested, attentive questions about them that show you’re tuned in, paying attention and intrigued. It’s understandable to want to highlight all your achievements, activities and accolades in an attempt to sell yourself, but this isn’t a shopping channel presentation. You’re aiming for a balanced, enjoyable dialogue where you come away knowing more about the other person.