Virtual Dating Apps: Date Ideas, Video Chats, Zoom, FaceTime, Skype Calls & Safety Tips – Is It Worth It? How To Avoid Awkward Video Dates During Covid-19, Quarantine.

Phone calls and video chats via Zoom, FaceTime and Skype have been utilized by many on dating apps as a way to screen folks, be more efficient with dating efforts, cut down on expensive worthless dates and interact with matches when they are unable to get together anytime soon.

Blame old photos, catfishing, lying about age, weight gain, hatfishing, being stood up or anything you like but I would argue that dating apps can be more costly and less efficient than meeting people offline these days.

Given the Covid-19 (aka Coronavirus) outbreaks of 2020, video chats and dating have been surging – so much that many dating apps are launching in app features – Bumble (had voice and video calling for about 1 year already), Facebook will launch video dates via Messenger soon, launched video calls with matches in April and Tinder will launch video calls later this year.

With all the Instagram Live reality show dates, Twitter video dating memes, media stories and Zoom stock price upticks one would think everyone has embraced video dates – that is not the case. It’s true many people are trying this out but many are bored or lonely and merely looking to pass the time while under quarantine.

There are definitely opportunities to succeed during this time but many people lack the patience and the creativity to flourish for weeks and months via digital means.

Skype Video Chats, Zoom Virtual Dates, Texting, FaceTime After Matching

After matching and exchanging messages through the app you might decide to move things along with the help of video dates. Setting a date, picking the video platform and selecting a date activity can require lots of work and frankly can be boring these days given that some areas like San Francisco have been on lockdown for over 7 weeks! How many repetitive dates can you have before you want to pull your hair out?

Online dating is a misnomer. Dating occurs offline and in person. You can spend hours and days chatting with someone to learn that they 1) don’t live in the area, 2) are looking merely for a pen-pal, 3) are lying about their age/marital status, or 4) lack the ability to generate interest in 3-D.

It’s hard to figure out what will one’s availability be once SIP is lifted. Will they resume their busy lives and lengthy commutes? Are they really in San Francisco or more like Palo Alto or Burlingame? (Many apps now have internation roaming features that all one to change his/her location for free during lockdown).

Lastly, the most revealing aspects about a person can really be observed in person. How do they deal with difficult situations? How do they treat waiters, retail employees, homeless folks and annoying kids at the brunch table next to you? How do they act around friends, when you are not around? How many other people are they seeing right now? What if you find out the guy you have been chatting has been lying about his height the whole time?

Practicing Video Chats, Video Dating Tips: Avoiding Awkward Video Dates

Before you start chatting and setting up dates, practice recording yourself talking your computer or friend. Monitor your lighting, shadows. See where your eyes drift. Clean your house. Fix your wifi speed. Dress up, show some effort, check the volume.

Make sure your video camera is at eye level and not below your chin. Find a comfortable seat. Have conversation starters on your wall and interior. Have a few handy props to help reference during your date.

Bottom line: prepare for a video date like you would for a business call. Show that you planned and are making an effort vs scrambling around aimlessly as if you were indifferent about getting on the call. First impressions are everything including voice, wardrobe, lighting, sound and interiors.

Virtual Date Ideas and Tips

If you are seeking a date, try paying for a pickup order at a local dinner place for her to get a meal. Sync up and listen to a podcast episode and comment over chat line or text. Share what you are doing to help others in time of need (for example I put together this list of places for takeout, gift cards, donations and to-go orders in San Francisco). Coordinate a movie viewing through Netflix party. Creatively plan a game night where you two can interact and play remotely.

If you have had several dates and your local authorities has started to ease shelter in place restrictions, you may be inclined to meet in person. Going on a hike or walk seems to be the most popular but even so, people might be hesitant given they don’t know your commitment to quarantine and shelter in place.

The other person might have roommates and feel uncomfortable to meet with a stranger. Keep this in mind and don’t force someone to meet in person. Similarly don’t assume an unwillingness to meet during lockdown is a sign of lack of interest.

Pro-tip: Call a friend beforehand to check the lighting, sound, connection and your appearance (yourself and your place).

What is Hinge Date From Home? Hinge Video Chats and Dates

Many apps like Hinge are encouraging matches to go on virtual dates through their ‘Date From Home’ prompt. After matching, Hinge users will see a “Date from Home” menu appear at the bottom of each conversation with their matches.

This prompt will ask if they’re ready for a video or phone call with their match. This prompt came from a survey of users suggesting they would be open to a digital date. You can select Ready or Not Yet. If both people select ‘Ready’ both users will be notified. Hinge will eventually ask you if you met up (private feedback).

As for video, Hinge video dates are here. No need to ask for usernames, phone numbers etc. You can now go on virtual dates on Hinge within the app.

Hinge Video Chat

Hinge Video Chat, Video Dates


Bumble Video Chat and Voice Call Feature

After matching on Bumble, a video icon will appear in the top right corner of your conversation screen with said match. Women will have the option to video chat immediately after matching whereby men will only have the option after a move has been made. Make sure to enable Bumble Virtual Date Badge to let others know you are up for a virtual date on your profile.

Bumble Virtual Date Badge

Bumble Virtual Date Badge

Bumble Whole Country

During Covid-19, Bumble is offering its Travel Mode for free meaning there is no radius and you can meet people all over the country (radius maximum = whole country). Expand your distance filter to whole country to see people in other cities in your country.

Bumble Question Game

Bumble released some new virtual dating tools including Virtual Date Badge, ability to send audio notes and ability to play the question game.

The Bumble Question game is a series of questions you and your match can answer whereby you can learn about each other and compare answers. Both of you have to answer the question in order to see each other’s answers.

Tinder Passport Free has made their passport feature free for users during Covid-19. Not sure how long it will last but enjoy it while you can.

Online Dating Safety Tips

The issue I have with this is once you move away from dating apps, you are exposing yourself to increased chances for possible scams and more. It’s harder to connect accounts and connect the dots when you move from platform to platform. Even if you remain on the dating app for all messages and videos, many dating apps are reluctant to take action when complaints are filed.

Video blackmail or sextortion is the on the rise. As folks start to get more flirty and forward some have shifted from casual conversations to unclothed virtual sexual performances. It becomes infinitely harder to report bad behavior to dating apps and authorities once you move off dating apps and sites. This is true even for phone calls, texts, Snapchat (disappearing messages) and Instagram (relaxed registration processes) messages.

Many people who are new to dating apps may not be the most technically savvy folks out there and so it is extremely important to remain cautious when moving quickly after matching with someone.

People In Relationships Are Using Dating Apps More Than Usual

Dating app usage is on the rise and it’s not just for single people. 

Final Thoughts

Don’t overly invest in someone who you have not met as in person chemistry may not live up to the hype and people can make the mistake in putting too much pressure on first in person dates after a number of texts and video chats.

Many people will quickly delete the apps and stop the video chats and move on to their normal lives once this is over with. Those that are sincere with their intentions are finding it hard to develop chemistry virtually.

People who use dating apps still rely on first impressions and dates to read people and body language. Video dates are still consuming and a high number of people have bad call setups with lighting and video + streaming quality.

Others are losing jobs, are busy job-hunting, are concerned with family and friends or are focusing on themselves to really carve out time for a stranger who is also held captive in their apartment. Even if you are ready and sincere about your intentions, it’s hard to assess if others are as well virtually.

About Eddie Hernandez 

Eddie Hernandez is a professional photographer specializing in natural, candid online dating photos. Featured in the SFGate, ABC7News, East Bay Express, Salon; contributor to Good Men Project, Plenty Of Fish and Meddle. In addition to photos, he provides guidance around app choice, bio optimization, messaging techniques, wardrobe advice and date ideas.

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