You actually CAN have a great Shidduch date on Zoom
This Coronavirus outbreak has rolled a hand grenade into our daily routine. It’s affected just about every area of life, and especially dating.
As it turns out though, as awkward as Zoom shidduch dating is for you, it’s just as awkward for every other single girl/guy in the world. The playing field is even. Here are practical tips to make this work as best as it can!
Make Use of Social Distance Time for Dating
Social distancing has upended our daily routines. There’s no commute, no social gatherings, no minyanim, etc. This allows room to develop and nurture new relationships and give them the attention they deserve.
Allowing ourselves to think outside the box and meet someone in a new way may be uncomfortable in the beginning, yet trains us in one of the most fundamental skills for marriage: flexibility. Here is the first exercise in flexibility: can you date in a different way – can you expand to share yourself and let somebody else into your world through a screen strange as that might be?
Zoom Shidduch Dating Can Be an Opportunity
Efficiency: You can date many more people in a much shorter period of time
Cost: If you’re the one paying for dates, this is going to be easier on your wallet. You don’t even have to pay for gas or drinks!
First Impressions: For many who feel judged too quickly based on body image (male or female) now is a good time for someone to get to know you and give you a chance. Some may not appreciate this comment – but many others will!
Less Competition: People aren’t experienced at this. If you get good at it quickly, you’ve got an edge on the rest of the dating world.
Overcome the Video Dating Awkwardness:
Cut yourself and your date some generous slack and a better date will be had by all.
- Prepare: We’ve got tips below that will help you be ready with things to say and do to keep the date flowing. Read on!
- Focus on The Goal: Many of us get very uncomfortable when dates don’t work out or when they feel off. The reason you’re putting yourself out there in an unnatural setting is to get married! If all you wanted was short term comfort, you could snuggle with your iPad and chocolate. You’re in this for the long term rewards of marriage. Let that goal orientation carry you when it’s tough.
- Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously: Look in the mirror 5 min before the date or speed dating event and make funny faces. Do jumping jacks. Sing your favorite song into a toothbrush. Talk yourself into a place of confidence. Good news is this isn’t Coronavirus, you’re not gonna die from it. At very worst it will be awkward; and you’ll live on.
- Call It Out: Feel free to break the ice and be honest about how this all makes you feel. Chances are your date will want to get it off of their chest too. You can laugh about it, diffuse the discomfort, and move on.
“Shelter in Place” Conversation Starters
This is a difficult time. People are isolated, losing their jobs, getting sick and even dying. Not a laughing matter. At the same time, there’s enough heaviness in the news – no need to extend that to dating. Here are some openers you might want to use that acknowledge the crisis but also give you an opportunity to get to know and connect with your date.
- How has your daily schedule and/or work life changed?
- What’s with Pesach? Have your plans changed?
- Anything interesting you’ve been reading or hobbies you’ve picked up?
- Do you prefer the quiet or do you miss the crowds?
- How do you think this series of events will change our society/community/you?
- Do you see any silver linings to this crisis?
Activities for your Zoom/Skype Date
- Cook and eat dinner
- Play an online game
- Create a shared Pinterest board
- Watch a Ted Talk and discuss
- Take a socially distant shared walk on Facetime (if that’s Kosher in your part of the country)
- Make a playlist
- If you’ve got more ideas, please let me know in the comments
What to Avoid
- Don’t be camera shy: Dive in the deep end. Even if you feel uncomfortable, get talking early on. The faster you get talking the more natural it will feel.
- But don’t forget the other person is there: It’s easier to do too much talking without another person physically in front of you or when you’re feeling nervous. Be aware of that, to keep the dialogue flowing in both directions.
- Jumping the gun: Heavy times can let the conversation get heavy early on. You know the drill – “airplane talk” for starters.
- Don’t make it more formal: Just because the conversation is over video doesn’t mean you’re chatting with a client in London. No black tie necessary. Let your smile shine!
- But don’t completely let your hair down: You shouldn’t look like you just got back from the gym – even if that’s how you’ve been dressing these weeks. A shower, nice clothes, and typical grooming will put you in a good headspace and make you look good.
- Swearing this business off: Even if you bomb it, get up and try again. We’ve all bombed something we later learned to do quite well. Don’t let this put your dating life on ice.
Give yourself some time to sort out what you actually feel about the person and the relationship versus feelings of panic that may or may not have anything to do with the individual you are dating..
How to Look Your Best
- Be yourself – everyone else is taken:-)
- Use a location with soft even lighting. If possible, get some light on your face. This avoids shadowing under your eyes, nose, etc. (top lighting is a Hollywood trick to make characters look creepy).
- The background should be neutral and pleasant. Keep clutter, distraction, and anything that looks like a bathroom or bedroom out of the shot.
- Place yourself on screen so that you comfortably fill the “frame”. Don’t have too much dead space on any side.
- Some things that don’t look good on video cameras including webcams: bright colors, tight patterns, and blingy jewelry. Take it or leave it.
- For girls, beware of too much makeup. There’s a reason people get their makeup professionally done before pictures. Less is more, simple and elegant, let that inner beauty shine!
How Long Should a Zoom Date Last
It’s probably a good idea to keep Zoom shidduch dates shorter than in-person dates. Here’s why.
Since there’s no venue, dinner, scenery, etc. the heavy lifting is all placed on the conversation and interaction. I’d recommend first video chats stay under an hour unless it is going so well that both sides clearly want to continue.
Err on the side of keeping it shorter. Better leave your date wanting more than leaving them frustrated or bored.
Tips for Speed Dating on Zoom/Skype
- Smile a lot. Speed dating participants who smile pleasantly get 82% of the dates after the event. I made that statistic up, but it’s probably correct.
- Acknowledge everyone and try to make conversation with everyone – even if they are not for you.
- If you’re bored, spend your time getting to know the person not for yourself but so that you can figure out who to set them up with.
- Use those self talk exercises to get out your discomfort/nerves/awkwardness. Seems silly till you try it.
- Remember, chances are the person you’re speaking to is even more uncomfortable than you. You’re not in this alone!
- The alternatives to speed dating are slow dating and no dating. You decide.
Avoid Zoom Shidduch Dating Burnout
Put your best foot forward for each date – as if this could be the one. Wouldn’t you want to make sure you had a great first date with your spouse?
Eye on the prize. You’re in this to marry, not to date. You can lock on to the awkwardness and video dating disaster stories, or make use of this time to become a great video conversationalist. In an increasingly digital world, the talent for great video chat presence will pay off in spades. After a video date, the question is the same one you should normally be asking with a slight modification: “Would I want to Zoom with this person just one more time?” Eventually clarity will come. Be patient and don’t pressure yourself, there’s plenty enough to worry about these days without dating stress.
Nothing Lasts Forever – Thankfully Including COVID-19
This is a temporary way of dating. Don’t worry, your wedding won’t have to be over zoom! If things go well, you’ll eventually meet your date face to face and transition to in-person dating. This too will take some time to get used to, but it is all possible with a bit of practice and patience, yet again more qualities to practice for marriage.
For the right person you will be able to be yourself, allow them to see you for who you are, and find in them many unique qualities even over WiFi.
We need to ‘zoom’ in on what’s important, give it our best shot, daven, and practice resilience to pick ourselves up and try again if necessary!