As the world adjusts to social distancing, small pleasures that once felt like matters of convenience, like getting our groceries delivered, are now necessities. And since dating IRL is now a no-go worldwide, reliable apps like Bumble are here to help in ways single people have always enjoyed, but now depend on more than ever when looking to make a true connection.
Bumble’s unique Video Calling feature is a safe and fun way to navigate this new-ish world of distance dating—you can meet “face-to-face” without sharing personal information or even leaving your apartment. With the help of extended distance filters, you can find love nationwide, and the Virtual Dating Badges indicate which potential matches are open to getting close while remaining far.
Still, there’s more to finding a meaningful connection than just downloading a dating app. You’ve got to be able to attract your potential match and hold their attention. That’s where dating experts Rachel Dealto and Thomas Knox come in. With Dealto’s experience as a relationship coach on Married at First Sight, and Knox having built a solid platform with his subway speed dating series #DateWhileYouWait, no one is better suited to teach us how to make new connections during this unconventional time.
Read on as Dealto and Knox help outline the do’s and don’ts of distance dating and video chatting.
PROFILE AND PRESENTATION
- Do: Be honest, show off your personality, and write a bio that’ll make you stand out
- Don’t: Pick the wrong photos, skimp on your bio, or forget the fundamentals
First things first. During self-isolation, the only thing as important as securing a variety of snacks is perfecting your online profile. For this, you’ll need the basics: killer profile responses and a few profile pics that are worth a 1,000 words. Knox’s suggestions for building a profile that’s sure to attract matches: “Be intentional and state what you're looking for. It also might be a good idea to have a variety of pictures.”
According to Bumble, adding at least three or more photos to your profile increases your match potential by 31%. Dealto also emphasizes the importance of selecting the right pics, explaining, “You won’t make it past step one without them.” Her rules of thumb to swipe your way into someone’s heart are 1) no sunglasses, 2) no group shots, and 3) absolutely no bathroom selfies. “Guys, if we can see your toilet, it’s a turn off,” she jokes.
But seriously, attracting people to your page and getting someone to swipe right is all about making sure your profile is a reflection of your personality. Bumble badges allow users to filter searches by common interests, so consider adding photos and information in your bio that reflect your hobbies and personality. This is especially true for guys because the app is designed for women to initiate conversation by making the first move, so it’s important that you're able to pique the interest of potential matches with more than just a winning smile or six-pack abs.
Once you’ve set up the perfect profile, it’s time to start matching and digging a little deeper. If you’re on the cautious side, Bumble’s in-app calling feature gives users the opportunity to chat with someone they’re interested in without having to share any personal info. If things go well, you can take things to the next level and get down and flirty on a virtual video date.
LIGHTING AND LOGISTICS
- Do: Pick a bright location, consider different spaces, and be aware of your surroundings
- Don’t: Rule out natural light, wait too long to call, or follow outdated routines
Sunlight is nature’s photo filter and being stuck in your house at all hours is now a lifestyle. For those reasons, daytime hours are ideal for a virtual date. Influencers often use natural light hacks to enhance their lifestyle photography. If it works for their brunch pics, it’ll work for your Video Calls—though the one thing you’ll need to avoid is backlighting. If you live in a quiet neighborhood, consider video chatting from the porch or backyard. Otherwise choose a spot by the window where the natural sun rays will come through. Just make sure the sun is lighting your face from an upper-diagonal angle. If you’re backlit, the shot will be too dark, and obstruct your date’s view of that beautiful face.
If sitting outside isn’t an option for you, there are still some logistical benefits to virtual dating at an early hour. As Knox explains, “you’re more [alert]” during the day, allowing you to give your potential partner the same attention you’d afford a work task. For that reason, he suggests that first dates should always be during daylight hours and save the late night Video Calls for later.
Knox also notes, “People go to [restaurants] at night, people go to the movies at night—those are things that we can’t do in this case.” The same goes for bars, clubs and concerts. Since we no longer have access to nighttime activities, there’s no need to stick with the traditional IRL routine of waiting until the evening to connect. If your work-from-home schedule includes a lunch hour, don’t think you have to abide by traditional dating rules—call up your quarantine cutie sooner rather than later.
ANGLES AND AESTHETIC
- Do: Practice beforehand, ask for help, and be thoughtful
- Don’t: Fidget, multitask, or get distracted
Angles aren’t only for lighting. They also help accentuate the shape of your face. If you’re video chatting on Bumble, Dealto advises against holding your device too low. “Guys have had a really tough time finding flattering angles,” she explains. “Don’t hold your phone underneath the chin. It doesn’t look good.” A pro in front of the camera, the former Lifetime host notes, “If you’re holding your phone and you have 15 chins when you normally have one, we have a problem.”
“Try to make yourself look like [the correspondents] on TV,” Dealto continues. “Everyone is coming to you live from their homes, and they all have those angles down. You want to see yourself upright, and you want to see your whole face. If you’re curious as to whether or not it looks good, take a screenshot and send it to someone you trust… the beauty of [technology] is that you can practice without being on a live call.”
Another thing to keep in mind is that just because you’re using the Video Chat feature within the Bumble app doesn’t mean that manners don’t matter. Both you and your virtual date deserve the same undivided focus that would come with an IRL meeting. This means no scrolling, texting, or emailing. Multitasking in general should be avoided, which also means no cooking or eating, unless you and your Bumble bae already agreed to share a meal together as part of the date.
GLAM AND GROOMING
- Do: Organize your space, put in effort, and be confident
- Don’t: Try too hard, hide your flaws, or feel ashamed of quarantine chic
With most barbershops and salons temporarily closed, your appearance may still be a concern even after you’ve established a good shot. Confidence is the cure. While Knox is an admitted fedora enthusiast, he doubts he’d feel the need to hide a jacked up hairline. “I wouldn’t put on a fedora while I’m sitting in the house,” he explains. “The person I want to rock with is someone who understands I can’t get a haircut right now. It’s not like I don’t want to look presentable. I brushed my hair and combed out my beard. That’s the best you can get at this point.”
Dealto agrees, advising that everyone should “make an effort” to be camera-ready, but insisting that “you don’t have to go overboard.” For women specifically, the dating coach says, “put on some makeup,” if you’d like, “but you don’t have to pull lashes out for a virtual date.”
Insecurity and self-consciousness are turn-offs for most people. These things don’t disappear with distance. If you show up on-camera wearing a hat that screams Kentucky Derby, or with a face fit for the Met Gala, your date is going to sense you’re hiding something—when the truth probably isn’t as ugly as you think it is. Knox’s words of wisdom for people overthinking their looks before a virtual date: “Be yourself.”
CONVERSATION AND CONNECTIONS
- Do: Set boundaries, pace yourself, and have some good questions
- Don’t: Ramble, overshare, or move too fast
According to Dealto, “the first date should be really short—15-20 minutes.” From there, you can see where the conversation flows, but keep in mind quick chats allow you to preserve some intrigue while also leaving your match wanting more. If you hit it off and keep talking for hours, that’s great too. But if your date doesn’t last all evening, don’t write them off right away.
Even after you get past the first few dates, it’s normal for conversations to only last about 30-45 minutes. Think of this as a way to pace yourself while running a marathon with an unknown finish line. “Relationships need a chance to breathe,” Dealto says. “If you go to a different place too fast, you’ll end up frustrated because you’ll still have some time before you can actually meet the person.”
If you’re intentional, short conversations don’t have to be shallow. In April, Bumble rolled out a few new product features meant to make virtual dating easier, including the Questions Game, which offers automated prompts for users to answer on their chat screens. As some of us struggle to think of experiences we can share from afar, a fun idea would be to continue the game with your own set of questions on a Video Call. If you’ve ever wondered how you’d fare on a quiz show, you can double down on the laughs by inviting a date.
The most important thing to remember during these times is that physical distancing doesn’t have to mean social or emotional isolation. With apps like Bumble offering everything from Conversation Starters to help women make the first move, to Profile Verification profiles to weed out the catfish, your romantic life doesn’t have to suffer.
“You can take this as an opportunity to be like, ‘Okay, I’m going to get to know this person, and I’m going to give them the time they deserve,” Dealto explains. And once that perseverance pays off, with the right amount of patience and a few good virtual dates, you just might ride these uncertain times out saying, in Dealto’s words, “I’m going to have something to look forward to.”
Download Bumble now to put these tips to use and start making some connections of your own.