Self-Isolating Women Surprised FaceTime Dates Can Be Better Than Going Out
For a long time, I wasn’t too fussed about going out on dates. But this year I oiled up the old dating apps once more, powering through the awkward ‘Hey, how’s it going’ introductions and onwards to actual face-to-face meet-ups.
This is my year, I thought. This is the year I will find a lovely new boyfriend and we will spend all summer going out for nice dinners together.
But then coronavirus struck, and it quickly dawned on me that I wouldn’t be out flirting with anyone over a two-for-one cocktail anytime soon.
With social distancing well under way and the country under strict instructions to stay inside, I’m now spending my evenings curled up with a cup of tea and a good book, living my love life vicariously through episodes of First Dates. And as a bit of a homebody, I’m honestly not complaining too much.
However, what if there was still a way to forge connections and spark those early embers of romance? What if I could eventually burst out from my home working and tinned soup chrysalis as a butterfly on the brink of a relationship?
Pubs and restaurants are rightly an absolute no-no right now, but many fledgling lovebirds are choosing to arrange FaceTime dates where they can get to know each other without the risk of infecting each other and others.
These dates have all the hallmarks of an IRL date – tummy flutters, bottles of wine and dithering over outfit choices – except you are chatting through a screen, potentially many miles from each other.
UNILAD spoke with Rachel Sewell, a 26-year-old straight woman who works in travel PR and lives in Balham.
Rachel has been single for a bit, enjoying going on regular dates in and around London, both with people she has met out in person or through dating apps such as Hinge.
However, in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, Rachel has had to get slightly more creative when chatting to prospective suitors, and is now giving FaceTime dates a try.
Rachel told UNILAD:
I’ve only had one FaceTime date so far with a guy I’ve met for drinks a couple of times before, and I would say it is very different to meeting someone face to face as you strip back the social environment you get in a bar/restaurant, but I did find out more about him which was nice.
Rachel and her date ended up chatting on their respective sofas with a post-dinner wine in their PJs (the best sort of attire in my opinion, although most Nando’s restaurants would frown upon it).
According to Rachel, they were able to chat about matters other than the ongoing pandemic, which I imagine was nice:
We chatted about lots of random topics, for example books we were reading. He also showed me things in his flat, which was a nice insight into his personality and where he lives. It was quite easy to fall back into conversation about the outbreak though.
Interestingly, Rachel noted there were actually some benefits in getting to know one another in this separated environment:
I’d say it’s beneficial being able to see someone’s facial expressions when getting to know each other, which is important. You can keep an elevated level of contact going – aside from texting – when you can’t meet in person and it’s free, so it’s good for the bank balance!
The main challenge is that not everyone is the same over the phone as they are in person (myself included).
I think there are more distractions when you’re not physically with someone, but I would recommend it for people who’ve met through a dating app – especially as a safety precaution to see if they’re [the same person] as in their profile.
Rachel hasn’t scheduled another date yet, but she’s sure she will ‘very soon’. And I must say, even if we were currently allowed to visit pubs and clubs, I understand the appeal of getting to know someone over what is essentially a good old-fashioned phone call.
As someone old enough to recall the glory days of MSN Messenger – where I myself got asked out for the very first time – there’s something kind of sweet and exciting about prolonging the build-up to the eventual meeting.
For a generation who have, until very recently, been able to get everything on demand, this could potentially be a way to breathe a little romance and mystery into our swipes and likes.
Some singletons have even been putting their FaceTime dates to good use, as was the case with publicist Nina Sawetz.
Nina, from Manchester, was brave enough to take the plunge and go for a ‘virtual first date’, FaceTiming a person she had never met before.
Taking to Twitter prior to the big night, Nina said:
Nina’s followers loved the idea, and her tweet quickly went viral. It even caught the attention of Deliveroo, who pledged a very tasty £100 in food vouchers to the potential sweethearts.
However, Nina and her date made the very generous decision to donate the voucher to the staff of Salford Royal Hospital, deciding to enjoy their date without the free nosh.
Kind-hearted Nina shared the following email to Salford Royal via Twitter, showing her support for the staff and their courageous work:
Having discussed it with the date, we decided we would like to forward [the vouchers] to your wonderful staff at Salford Royal Hospital, for some pick me ups in the staff room at this unprecedented time.
I know it’s only small and won’t go far, but we wanted to support your team – who looked after me wonderfully during an operation two years ago.
Nina spoke with UNILAD about her date and how it all came to be:
A few weeks ago we had planned to meet up for dinner on this particular date, but since the coronavirus pandemic escalated, this obviously wasn’t something we could do, so we went for the second best thing – dinner together, but online.
Even if it doesn’t go anywhere, I do believe the friends you make now, and the ones who help you through this period, are the people you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
If anything I hope this random idea we had would help people see there are things you can do, while still staying at home.
We all need to work together to help stop the spread of Coronavirus. It will be different and it will be hard, but nothing will bring us closer as a nation – and as a world – than working together to help those more vulnerable.
There are so many ways we can adapt to get through, from FaceTiming each other more often, to online gaming, to following the chefs of your favourite restaurants and asking them to do ‘cook along at home’ videos.
Social media is finally being used for good, and it’s just a case of thinking outside the box and using the tech in ways we may have not previously thought about.
Speaking about her decision to donate the vouchers, Nina continued:
We have obviously been speaking a lot about what is happening and how we can help, and we felt gifting the vouchers to the NHS frontline staff at my local hospital – Salford Royal – was the only thing we could do.
The nurses there have helped me so much in the two years I’ve lived in Manchester, so although a tiny gift, we both wanted to support them at this terrible and unprecedented time.
It’s kind of weird being single at a time like this. I’ve always thought of myself as an independent, busy person who didn’t necessarily need a significant other to feel a sense of connection.
But without after work drinks, evening classes and dinners out with old friends, my world has – like so many other people’s – become a little closed in.
I’m admittedly having to work a bit harder than usual to replace the warmth of easy, mundane social exchanges; of the well-trodden office banter and casual nods of acknowledgement at the gym.
This of course doesn’t mean you have to throw yourself into a series of FaceTime dates – but by all means do just that if you so wish – but do make sure to make time to interact with others; whether that be a Skype call with your family or a daft House Party game night with your mates.
For those currently considering embarking on a FaceTime date, this could genuinely be a lovely, and very intimate, way to chat with new people at a time when we should looking out for one another.
Furthermore, if things should work out, what a romantic and oddly Medieval story to regale your grandchildren with some day.
And if things don’t work out – and you end up chatting to someone who eats spag bol with their bare fingers – well, it will at least bring a sense of silliness and normalcy back to your dating life.
It’s okay to not panic. LADbible and UNILAD’s aim with our coronavirus campaign, Cutting Through, is to provide our community with facts and stories from the people who are either qualified to comment or have experienced first-hand the situation we’re facing. For more information from the World Health Organization on coronavirus, click here.