The evolution of dating over the last half century:

1952: Walk over to my house at 7 PM and talk to my Dad before we go out

1972:  Pick me up at 7 PM in your boat, I mean car

1992:  I’ll meet you there at 7 PM, we don’t know each other and this is the 90s people

2012:  Ring me on Skype video chat at 7 PM

I used to have a rigid “no video chat” policy for my clients. My theory was that you never present yourself in a video chat the way you would during an in-person chat. Your hair and makeup is half-done, the lighting is all wrong, you don’t turn off your cellphone, your roommate barges in looking to borrow toothpaste and you’re stone cold sober, nervous and stuttering. Sounds like an excellent way to make a first impression, right?

However, as technology has evolved, I’ve had to change my tune. Recently I was working with a woman who met a guy from clear on the other side of the country. Within four months, they were engaged and she was moving half way across the globe to be with him. How did they connect so deeply and so quickly? Video chat dating. However, rather than just turning on the camera after work and letting it roll, they took their video chat dates as seriously as they would a face-to-face date until they could meet in person.

If you are going to video chat date, here are a few ground rules:

  1. Don’t video chat date for the first meeting if you are able to meet in person (i.e. if you are geographically close). Video chatting should only be used as a substitute; the real thing is always best.
  2. Just like an in-person date, you should have a set start time. Saying you’ll “Video chat after work” and then calling at 10 PM won’t make your date feel special.
  3. Get dressed properly for the date. Don’t just show up in whatever you were wearing earlier. Really prepare yourself as you would for an actual date.
  4. Give yourself an activity. On a real date you would at least be able to stare at menus when you’re nervous or have a snack to nibble on. Having a purpose for the date will feel much more natural.

Here are some great virtual dating activities

1. Enjoy a sushi date:

For this activity, you both get the same type of food. Sushi, burritos, pizza, etc.  Then you sit down like you’re actually having dinner together.

2. Play a game:

Many game consoles, like Xbox®, have the ability to connect with other players. You could also play an old school game of online chess in another window or try out a game like Draw Something on your iPad® while you video chat on your computer.

3. Read something together:

You can both get the same book and read it before the date so you can talk about it, or read passages to one another

4. Movie night:

Either chat while you’re watching it together or watch it and then set a date to discuss the film together after.

Get creative with your virtual dates. The key is for you to have a shared experience that will give you something to talk about other than the weather.

Dear Mrs D is an online dating strategist who conducts one-on-one coaching sessions and workshops for singles on how to find success dating online just as she did. She has been seen on Fox, NBC, and CBS and has written an ebook “D is for Dating: A Guide to Successful Online Dating” which is available exclusively through her website
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