What’s it actually like to date when you can’t meet in person?
Two people with experience give us the lowdown
Written by Agatha French
Let’s start by stating the obvious: dating during the time of Coronavirus has changed the game. There’s the million dollar question (How are you supposed to know if someone’s right for you without meeting in person?) as well as smaller, day-to-day quandaries about the logistics of dating virtually. Should you still plan date activities, like having dinner together? How often should you “hang out?” And of course, What’s it like to have your first sexual encounter over phone or video?
We spoke to two Coralers to get the lowdown about dating entirely online:
- Gary,* a straight man in his 40s, dated his now-wife long-distance way before the pandemic hit, and offered his perspective on why dating at a distance can be a gift.
- Ann,* a queer woman in her 20s, has been dating someone she met on Tinder just as her state’s stay-at-home orders went into effect, and has some great ideas about dating creatively during quarantine.
Here’s what they had to say!What was your first virtual date with your partner like? Gary:
We met online and then used FaceTime for our first virtual date. It was less weird than I thought it would be. We ended up using FaceTime a lot before we actually “met” in person. Ann:
We talked on the phone! Old school! We’d already been texting. Since then we’ve done FaceTime once and both thought it was fine but not our favorite. I do it with my friends but it hasn’t worked for us for dating yet. But we’ve been texting each other pictures and voice recordings daily for a solid month now.
Do you schedule formal date activities, like sharing a meal or watching a movie? If so, what were some of the activities that work well as virtual dates? Any that fell flat?
Gary: The dating activity that we liked best was watching a movie or TV shows together while FaceTiming. We could talk about the movie and get to know each other more. Cocktails together were sort of difficult as was doing dinner together.
Ann: We haven’t done any of that. I’m kind of surprised. It’s so easy to talk to each other though that I don’t feel like we need to plan activities. It’s also been easier to get more creative. I started recording chapters of a personalized audiobook for her, and I mailed her two mini-paintings, and she sent me a little care package in the mail. How often did you meet virtually for dates? Is this frequency different from in person dating you did previously with other partners?Gary:
A couple of times per week, probably? It was about the same amount as “regular” dating.Ann:
This is totally different from anything I’ve done. Ordinarily I’d meet up with someone at the very least once a week, but we haven’t met in person and don’t really meet up online. We really like each other though so there’s a lot of contact but in this really unique way where we send each other a lot of audio.What do you like about virtual dating? What do you find challenging? Gary:
We got to really know each other without the pressure of any sort of physical aspects to start. I’d never had that before and it was a gift. It was hard for me too though because I couldn’t be with my person as much as I would like. Ann:
There’s no expectations for certain amounts of time spent together and it’s making us really creative about how to connect. As for what’s challenging, I guess there’s not much spontaneity or chance to witness the person in different settings to get to know them better.
If you had phone or virtual sex with your partner, how did you transition from "regular talk to "sexy talk?" Any tips for someone who's never done it before?Gary:
We did some sexting at first as well as masturbating together while video chatting. Sometimes it would be planned and other times we both would be really turned on and it would just start. I think my advice is that you should already be comfortable with the person because if you are the transition won’t be weird.Ann:
We haven’t had sex yet. We’ve sent some sexy selfies but it’s only been six weeks!What was it like when you finally met your partner IRL, or what do you think it’s going to be like?Gary:
When we first met IRL it was amazing and it didn’t feel like it was our first time together. It felt like we had been together for years.Ann:
I don’t know! But it seems like this relationship is going to make it to the other side of quarantine! I think I’m most excited about just being in the same place with her and introducing her to my friends. What advice would you give someone who's about to go on their first virtual date, and/or who is about to embark on a long-distance relationship?Gary:
Don’t overthink it.Ann:
Just take it one day at a time. Don’t have expectations for what it should look or be or feel like, and be super transparent with the other person because there’s literally no way to know how they feel or for them to know how you feel unless you share openly or ask questions. Don’t make assumptions about any part of it. They might have no idea what they’re doing either so don’t stress!*Names and details have been changed to respect the subject’s privacy.