Coronavirus: How to hold a first date over Facetime during the COVID-19 lockdown

woman on a Facetime date
It's time to take things face to face(time). Photo credit: Getty.

If you excitedly proclaimed on January 1, 2020 that this was "your year" to meet the love of your life, or even just get back on board the dating train... I'm guessing things haven't quite worked out quite the way you were expecting.

With the country firmly in the grip of the COVID-19 alert level 4 lockdown, meeting up with strangers is firmly on the 'not allowed' list as we shelter in our bubbles of friends, family and flatmates. 

That means that despite conversation rates on dating app Tinder hitting an all-time high, the actual physical act of 'dating' shouldn't be happening for the foreseeable future. 

But don't fret! Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, you don't have to sit at home watching Bridget Jones and fearing you'll never find love, as our ancestors before us did in the time of the plague and Spanish flu (I assume). 

Newshub podcast The Snack delves into how listeners are getting down while in lockdown. 

Facetime, Zoom, Houseparty, Google Hangouts, Facebook messenger call... these are some of the convenient yet bizarre ways we're now dating in this lockdown era. 

Writing for Slate, Maia Ten Brink reveals the strangeness of asking someone 'out' at this time we're all meant to be staying in. 

"In the end, I asked Adam out on that first date. 'Do you want to hang out (whatever that means) tonight?' I text," she writes. "He said he’s trying to figure out what 'whatever that means' means, so I send him my work Zoom link, feeling odd, as if I have mixed up my dating profile and my LinkedIn."

If you're feeling similarly strange, I've put together a list of steps to make the transition easier. If you've been chatting to someone on the apps and you're ready to take the next step, it's time to take things face to face(time). 

Keep the same pre-date ritual

Remember in the olden days (February) when with a first date came an exciting pre-date process you had down to a fine art? Don't lose that. Just because your WFH uniform is loungewear and spot cream doesn't mean that your first date look has to follow suit. 

Who cares if they won't see your legs - shave them (or not, if that's your jam), moisturise from top to toe, paint your toenails if it will make you feel more confident. Listen to your favourite playlist and call your flatmate in for a glass of wine. It will get you much more amped than just sitting in bed in the outfit in which you worked that day. 

Take the date out of the bedroom 

While this might be difficult if you have family and/or flatmates, bribe or blackmail them to stay out of the lounge. Whether you pull a stool up to the kitchen counter, or set yourself up with a drink on the couch, it will give you much more of a sense of elegance or occasion than your bedroom. Plus it's easier to think of intelligent conversation when you're not slumped into a pile of pillows.

If you're feeling particularly adventurous, you could even both go on your daily government-sanctioned constitutional walk 'together': Moseying around your respective neighbourhoods while gasbagging. 

But hey, it's a no judgement zone here. If the date goes so well you're taking the laptop into the bedroom at the end of the evening, consider it a success! 

Keep it casual 

We've become so used to having our important work meetings over video call now that you might accidentally switch into work mode. Don't sit there and rattle off your day's achievements and personality traits, or worse, interrogate them with a line of questioning which will land you on Netflix's 'The Confession Tapes'. Instead, keep the conversation casual and fun: What drink you've decided to sip, what you've been up to in lockdown etc. If you have a cat or dog, bring them into the date! 

Remember, this is a 'first date' - so if you would normally leave after one drink, the rules don't need to be different. Keeping it short, sharp and sweet is much better than trailing off with awkward silences as you think of things to chat about. 

Plus to be honest, you're probably going to need to save some of the good stuff to talk. I don't know about you, but I don't have a whole lot going on right now. Maybe keep your funniest anecdote for date number two, if things are all going well.