It’s time for a virtual date, so you’ve ironed your favourite shirt and spent ages finding the perfect spot in your kitchen where the light hits your face just right. Everything’s set up and ready to go…
Then you log in, see their face and suddenly you’re lost for words. What’s going on?
Why virtual dates can be so awkward
If you’re floundering for conversation topics during virtual dates, you’re not alone – there are so many reasons why this type of date is more intimidating! For example:
- On a regular date, there’s often some background activity – the band playing in the bar, for instance, or the regular noise of the coffee shop. On a virtual date, you’re just focused on each other to fill the deafening silence…
- There’s no physical interaction at all, so you can’t test the waters by leaning in, touching them on the arm, etc.
- Eye contact – one of the biggest indicators of attraction – is difficult via video link (it’s not as if we look directly into the camera most of the time)
But, practice makes perfect and there are even some ways to turn these negatives into positives.
Here’s what you can do to feel less awkward for your next virtual date.
1. Call a friend first
If the first time you’ve spoken to anybody all day is during your date, this is a sure recipe for feeling awkward!
You’re much less likely to feel shy on a virtual date when you’ve already been talking for several minutes first. Arrange for a video call with a trusted friend half an hour before your date and talk about anything – it will lessen your nerves and put you into the right mindset to continue talking.
2. Have some notes to hand
On a regular date, bringing notes would look very strange. Not so with virtual dates, where you can easily hide them out of frame!
If you know your mind is going to go blank, jot down a few bullet points about subjects that are likely to come up and things you’d like to share. This could include:
- Things about your day – what’s your normal routine and what happened today?
- What’s in the news that’s likely to come up in conversation?
- How about your major projects? Maybe you have fitness goals, career goals, artistic goals or goals to make more friends. How are they going?
- What are your plans for the rest of the day or week?
3. Use what's around you
One big struggle when you feel awkward in front of others is knowing what the heck to do with your hands. The worst part is, when you’re thinking about it, it’s almost impossible to act naturally!
Props that give your hands something to do can come in very handy here. My absolute favourites:
- A coffee mug
- A necklace, bracelet or earrings
- Long, loose sleeves (the kind that come down almost to the fingertips)
4. Ask questions to keep the conversation balanced
I have a really bad habit of forgetting to ask people how they’re doing, even after they’ve just asked me how I am. I’m making an effort to remember, and I’ve found that it makes conversations much easier!
Whenever it feels like you’ve been talking for some time – say a few minutes – try to give your date space to share what’s on their mind (this will give you a much-needed pause as well). If you’re not sure how to do this, a good way to keep the conversation flowing is just to turn whatever you were talking about into a question.
For example, if you’ve shared something you have a strong opinion about, you could then ask them ‘What do you think?’ This shows that you’re open to different perspectives and interested in hearing theirs.
Or, if you’ve just talked about your favourite type of exercise, ask them what theirs is. Don’t just talk about you!
5. ...But don't interview them
The flipside of talking too much is talking too little. Try not to ‘interview’ your date with too many probing questions.
6. Do something calming or motivating to prepare
Having a virtual date can feel a bit like going for an important interview. With that in mind, many of the same preparation techniques can apply.
Try not to schedule anything else stressful or demanding within a few hours of the date. If you’re the type who lets off steam by hitting the gym, do that first. If you prefer to have a green tea and listen to sounds of the rainforest to relieve stress, do that instead – whatever works for you.
7. Schedule an end time and keep it short and sweet
Having an end time already planned will mean you won’t both ramble on endlessly and you have an excuse for logging off when the conversation still leaves you both wanting more 🙂
Virtual dates are more intense than regular dates, so keeping it to between 1 hour and 90 minutes is probably best. If you don’t yet know them well (or at all), it can help to have something planned for afterwards (such as meeting a friend for lunch) so that you’re not tempted to continue chatting forever. Share this with your date when you schedule the virtual meet, so that it’s not awkward when you have to dash.
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