Virtual Dating Etiquette

Moon SwingPicture created and provided by Sarah

The dating process is what you engage to explore whether you want to commit to an exclusive relationship.  By going on dates and meeting others who also want to explore getting to know another person well, an exciting world of sharing and caring opens up. The idea of someday finding that someone special to share your life with is a hope and dream for many.     

Typically, places to meet a potential date have been school, church, at parties, work, after-hours or sponsored events, and online dating sites.  But complicating this natural process are the Covid-19 realities of today.  

In whatever form you’ve dated or hoped to date in person, couples are now left with the real challenge of interaction through other mediums, while not together in physical space.  In other words, virtual dating.

A Virtual Dating Case Study

My granddaughter, a college sophomore, holds a growth mindset attitude.  As she puts it, “These times offer us ample opportunities to be creative in ways we may have not seen before.  If we put our minds and hearts to work, we can learn more about ‘our person’ and ourselves, too!”

She and her boyfriend, now separated by two states, are committed to learning about one another, proceeding one day at a time. 

Their scheduled activities include, have included, or plan to include: 

  • Video chats via Zoom, together and with mutual friends.
  • Watch a movie at the same time and (virtually) share popcorn.
  • Do a workout together over Google Hangouts or FaceTime.
  • Coffee and FaceTime early in the day.
  • Prepare the same dinner and eat together via Zoom.
  • Have a “big” question (about life or anything) moment while settled in a comfortable place for a phone conversation.
  • Play an online virtual game.
  • Take turns making conversation starter questions.
  • Try some activities from an adventure dating book and sharing the experience by phone or FaceTime.
  • Sharing kisses via emojis and the American Sign Language sign for Love You when ending a FaceTime call.

Planning is necessary as work schedules and sports’ preparation needs are considered.  The goal is to explore fun things they each want to do or can learn together while not able to be together.

The Role of Etiquette

“Dating is give and take.  If you only see it as 'taking,' you are not getting it.” 

~ Henry Cloud

Virtual dating, as with traditional dating, has protocol expectations.  Anytime another person is involved, consideration is a must.  You are providing that person with a perception of how you treat people in general.

  • Be on time for your date on the video conferencing site.  If an unexpected problem arises, text or phone the other person.
  • Be well-groomed and dress tastefully.
  • Be sure that your background is neutral, neat, and uncluttered. 
  • First impressions are critical and can make or break being asked for a future date.  Maintain good posture, speak to the microphone rather than the screen, avoid slang and profanity, engage in the back and forth of conversation, and keep gossip or details about other people off limits. 
  • Always have open-ended questions “in your pocket” to keep the dialogue going or if the conversation needs a boost.   Listening is always a must.
  • Be clear on an ending time, and leave room for wind-down.  

Even though you may be going virtual in your dating quest, there are traditional dating etiquette tips that apply both on and offline:

  • Accepting a date includes thanking the other person for asking.
  • If declining a date request, thank the person for asking, and let them know that you are happy continuing to be a friendly acquaintance. 
  • It may be that you have other plans that evening and you should keep those plans.  “Perhaps another time?” signals that you are interested. 
  • Decide on how, where, when, and how long the date will last. And let someone else know who you are with and how you are spending time together for safety’s sake.
  • Be honest and creative in thinking about how to talk about yourself and what you enjoy.
  • If the “Have you been in relationship before?” comes up, avoid blow-by-blow descriptions.  “It didn’t work out as we proved the old truism that opposites attract isn’t a formula for success.”
  • Knowing and respecting your intimacy boundaries are an upfront must. 

The bottom line of dating in any format is: enjoy yourself!  Being kind and clear are the best rules of etiquette to guide you – on a date and in life.

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