Is A Video Call A Good First Date?
At this point, we’re all used to virtual hangouts, virtual meetings, even virtual dates. But what about virtual first dates? I mean, is a video call a good first date?
I have to be pragmatic in my answer – a virtual first date can be fantastic. It could also be awful if you don’t prepare, make sure you don’t look like a ghost in 8-bit on camera, and think of some fun things to do.
What I’m saying is, there’s no denying that a first date on webcam could be awkward but it’s totally within your power to make it fun! And it’s often a really practical thing to do.
You don’t have to leave the house or spend a bunch of money for a video date, and it’s a great solution if you live quite a way apart and want to test the water before committing to travelling.
In fact, it is becoming increasingly common to have a quick video call with someone you’re interested in before arranging a date even if you live really close to one another, which I think is great.
You can’t tell everything about a person from a short video call, I know that, but you can see if you click and check that they don’t seem potentially eat-your-spleen weird.
For a pre-date video call you might not have to make a bunch of plans, but you should probably make sure you look good or else the actual date may not happen. I cover both video date ideas and how to look human on webcam in this article, so I’ve got you!
How Can I Make A Video Call Date?
Proposing a video first date might feel a little weird, but the more thought you put into it the less it will feel like a crappy cousin to an IRL date.
You should come up with a couple of potential activities before you pop the question (the Skype date question, don’t propose marriage before you meet someone!) and lead with one of those ideas rather than ‘want to stare at my big face on your computer screen for an hour’.
You could suggest playing some games together through GameFly – they have everything from Cookstar to Resident Evil, so no matter you and your date’s gaming comfort level you should be able to settle on a game you’ll both enjoy – or using Prime Video’s watch party feature to watch a movie together.
I suggest something on the sillier side so you can chat throughout.
Essentially, suggesting an activity is not as awkward as suggesting generically ‘shall we go on a date’, and it also makes the suggestion feel more real.
This is true for all dates, including virtual dates! And when that’s done, all you have to do is set things up…
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How To Prepare For A Video Date
Once you’ve agreed to try a Zoom date or Facetime date as a first meeting or a full first date, you have to prepare.
All the pre-date nervous energy usually gets burned off by getting dressed up and getting to your meeting place, and though you can’t recreate that exactly if it’s a video first date you can channel the energy productively!
Preparing for a video date can be broken down into two areas – preparing your home (or the little bit of it that will be seen on video) and preparing yourself mentally. Yes, you also need to do the literal set-up, but I’ll discuss that in a sec.
Setting the Scene
Okay, so this is the part many people forget to do! You’re trying to impress this person. Trying to convince them, in fact, that they should spend a lot more time with you.
So clear up the pizza boxes, wine bottles and dirty socks that naturally make up the backdrop to your video calls (no judgement, why do you think I know the details of this scene so well? This is obviously me too.).
As a next step, or if your apartment is already tidy (ooh look at you, aren’t you great at being an adult!) then you can still spruce things up by putting a couple of plants in the background, or even sneakily relocating favorite pieces of art to the wall behind you as a conversation point.
If you’re brave, you might plan on giving your date a tour of your house. It can be fun and stir up conversation, but unless you’re a neat freak it means way more tidying.
And what not to do?
Well, keeping a ‘joke’ Zoom background of a fairground, the beach or a bathroom with a golden toilet up for your whole call is a serious red flag, so please avoid that. And if your date is doing it?
Keep your face real still so they think you’ve frozen, nope out of there, and blame your broadband provider.
The first step in being ready for your Skype date (hang on, do people still use Skype? You know what I mean though…) is prepping that activity you proposed (we’ll run through a few more ideas later).
Whether it’s something you’ll both be doing irl like having the same drinks, make sure you’ve got everything ready.
If it’s something online, then check your internet is working fine and maybe do a dry run of using the website or program you’ll be relying on.
Honestly, tech issues have ruined some very promising first dates. Having your video player glitch out in the middle of bingeing a new series together is basically the modern equivalent of being Romeo and/or Juliet.
Secondly, think of a few things to talk about. Obviously don’t practice so much you sound like a robot, but you two have been chatting right?
You know what you have in common, so keep some stories in your back pocket just in case you freak out when you see how hot your date is moving on a screen instead of in a still picture on a screen!
Sometimes nervousness, especially with the added awkward factor of video call dating, can turn into word vomit and that does not make for a good date!
How Do You Look Good On A Video Date
So, first you have to track down a witch. Don’t forget to fill your pockets with eye of newt before you set out…
I’m obviously kidding, but looking even half decent on a video date can sometimes seem like some mysterious kind of magic.
Let me allow you into a boring secret though – it’s actually all about preparation. Oh, and ring lights. And camera quality.
But let’s start with that ring light – you can get a real professional set-up from a lighting company like IVSII, or settle for something much more budget-friendly but you should be able to find something in your price range unless your price range is zero dollars.
If that’s the case, then you should spend some time checking your video in whatever program you’re using and messing about with a decent lamp because ring lights really make a difference.
If we’re talking camera, we’re talking angle, and we’re talking quality. Be honest with yourself – does your three-year-old Macbook’s built in camera make you look your best? Ouch, that was a massive self-burn. But it may well be true for you too.
If you’re going to be using your computer for this video first date, and you probably are if you’re going to do online activities, then consider getting a new webcam if your inbuilt one is subpar.
Just like with ring lights, webcams are available at various price points. I love this Logitech, but I know it’s kind of expensive. I’ve also heard good things about the much more affordable Microsoft LifeCam.
Whether you’re using a webcam or your inbuilt laptop camera, or indeed your phone, camera angle matters. Make sure your computer is in a good position before you start your call – your date does not want to see up your nose, I’m almost certain of it.
To keep your computer steady, you could invest in a stand, or you could just plonk it on the correct number of books.
For phones, though, a tripod is a good idea or else that makeshift stand built with DVD cases and a used fork will fall over multiple times during your hot date.
Oh, sorry, it’s not action yet, we have to stop by hair and makeup.
Your face is going to be the center of attention on your video date, so make it look its best! I really hope I don’t have to tell you this, but have a shower and brush your damn hair. And your teeth.
Your date won’t be able to smell you, no, but if you’re feeling clean and fresh you’ll be far more confident.
Beyond that, I hope you have a skin routine! If you don’t, or need to change it up, let me recommend Allies of Skin.
They’re an excellent skin care brand that can be personalized to suit your needs – they even have a regimen recommender tool on their site. In the longer term, skincare is obviously important and having great skincare habits will show results over time.
But if you want to look amazing ASAP, say for an important video date, you can use something like the Blemish Sleeping Facial.
Of course, if you’re a makeup lover definitely have fun with that. It’s a date,
it’s okay to treat it like one and put on a face (or whatever you like to do, makeup is personal).
And if you aren’t a makeup lover usually? Well, if someone you live with is skilled in that area then there’s no shame in a little makeup-enhanced freshen up before you appear on camera. Just don’t do it yourself if you’ve never tried before!
What To Wear On A Video Date
Just like with brushing your teeth, your date may not see your bottom half but you’ll definitely feel more on form if you wear a full outfit.
Anyway, if you Donald Duck it or wear pj pants you’ll probably end up letting that info slip after a good laugh or a glass of wine.
Why put yourself in that kind of danger?
Beyond that nugget of wisdom, I have a few basic tips for video date outfits.
What Should A Girl Wear On A Video Date?
I honestly think that you can dress up for a video date just like you would a normal date. I mean, like I said above, it’s a date!
That being said, do keep both the format and the activity in mind.
So if you’re watching a movie or playing games together, dress like you might for a cinema or a Netflix and chill date. You want to feel comfortable, but also look good.
Jewellery is your friend on a video date – maybe a favorite necklace or pair of earrings.
Of course, there’s also no shame in getting comfy and pulling on a sweater – I like everything Public Rec, and I swear their fleece hoodies are as soft as clouds.
Or, as soft as you would imagine clouds, I guess real clouds are pretty wet.
What Should A Guy Wear On A Video Date?
Again, you want to look good and feel confident so wear something that you love.
Obviously, your top half is what’s going to be in play for the most part so I would advise wearing a favorite shirt or graphic or band tee (not one you’ve had for a decade that’s full of holes though – I know you’re really proud of your stories from Warped Tour 2012 but your date does not want to hear them).
I don’t need a watch, my phone obviously tells the time, to the extent that I forget to look at the damn watch and look at my screen instead, but a watch makes me feel adult and neat in a very particular way.
I have a Chrono S in Blue/Brown from Vincero, which is classic but also chunky and solid (you know, so it’ll be noticed if you flash it during a Zoom date).
Video Date Ideas
So, we’ve established that a video first date should be more than just gazing into one another’s slightly pixelated eyes, but now let’s actually dig into some virtual first date ideas!
There are two broad activity types you can get into on an online first date. They are simultaneous and IRL, and online activities. It used to be more of a challenge to find multi-user things to do online, but the options for online collaborative activities exploded in 2020, as we all became… well… a lot more online. Since then, things have only got better.
I know I keep saying ‘activities’ and it reeks of office away-day organized fun, but these are just fun things that mimic a real date. If you think you’re too cool for them, I hope you’re totally solid on what to talk about on a video first date because they really can get awkward!
And don’t be put off activities you’re not amazing at – you do not have to be good at these activities. In fact, it’s kind of fun if you’re bad at them.
Cooking something ‘together’ is always fun. Don’t go too elaborate, or you might burn the house down. You could even get identical meal kits delivered and go from there? The only issue is the eating bit. Because of the ‘eating on camera’ potential here, I might save simultaneous cooking for a later date than the first.
If you’d rather keep out of the kitchen, you could have a go at some crafts together. Origami is a good one because it’s weirdly difficult and that can be very funny, but it also only requires paper and instructions so there’s no glue or glitter getting in anyone’s keyboard.
Have A Drawing Challenge
Remember when I said you don’t have to be good at these activities? You’ll have to keep that in the forefront of your mind for this one unless you’re particularly artistically gifted.
A drawing challenge could be as simple as both trying to draw, say, a horse, or you could get creative and give one another silly prompts like ‘draw an elephant eating a burrito’.
If you’re really brave (and getting along well) you could also try to draw one another. This is always super funny, but it’s not for the faint of heart as the portraits are unlikely to be particularly flattering.
In the same realm as cooking, sort of, how about simultaneous IRL drinking? No, I am not suggesting a drinking contest or power hour on your first date, you monster. I’m talking about making craft cocktails.
If you already have decently stocked booze cabinets this is a wallet friendly virtual first date idea, and if not you can pick up a Box Co cocktail kit or two from Amazon and just buy a bottle of liquor.
You could also try wine tasting. I know, very classy. You could even dress up for it. I love FirstLeaf wine boxes personally – you get a great selection and it’s all stuff you wouldn’t just grab at the grocery store.
I also love playing the game where you take a sip and guess the poncy wine tasting notes on the back of the bottle, getting a point of each that you get right. So, that probably tells you a lot about the sort of wine drinker I am!
But enough about me. These boxes could be a great way to both get the same fancy wines in, so you could then create your own wine tasting experience!
Play Video Games
As I mentioned before, you can play computer games together (co-ops or competitive games, depending on what vibe you want for this first date) on Game Fly.
There’s even a free trial option, and memberships available so that you can hop from game to game without buying them all separately.
And you don’t need to be massive gamers to enjoy Game Fly – you can just play a round of Mario Gold together if, for some strange reason, that’s your jam.
There’s also the watch party option – whether you go Amazon Video or just a co-watch on discord. There’s also a Netflix Party plugin, which you could use while also having a call on your phone, or else you can watch together and regroup afterwards to discuss the movie.
Playing Board Games
If you like board games rather than the video variety, it’s also possible to find either tabletop simulators or digital versions of games like Monopoly, Jeopardy or Risk pretty easily if you’re willing to pay a few bucks for access (usually you pay once and can return and play indefinitely, so it’s definitely worth it if you’ll be back).
Solving A Virtual Escape Room
Personally, I’m not an escape room guy. The thought of being trapped in one makes my hands sweat. But a virtual escape room? That might be kind of fun!
Virtual escape rooms are basically just online puzzles you solve together, which means you’ll quickly learn how you guys fare in a stressful situation. They vary in difficulty, and come with all sorts of themes so you should be able to find one that interests both of you.
This is only a good date idea if you aren’t overly competitive, though. Watching your date have a tantrum because they can’t work out which book in a digital bookshelf they need to click to open an equally digital lockbox to finish a game that was supposed to be fun is not appealing!
If solving murder mysteries and impressing your date with big brain detective skills sound more appealing to you, you could also check out Huntakiller — a murder mystery subscription box with a killer story line (no pun intended) spread over six boxes or episodes so you have the next few dates covered as well.
(Not) Going To A Museum Or Art Gallery
If you want to do something a bit different (and cultured – so maybe pair it with the wine tasting?) you can find museum and art gallery tours online that you could take in together.
You’ll need to screen share, which is easiest if one of you streams on Discord using the ‘Go Live’ feature, with the other person in the voice room than it is in most video calling apps.
Some of the best online museum of art gallery tours available include London’s Natural History Museum, MASP in Sao Paulo, and the Vatican Museums in Rome.
So, you can travel all over the world with museum and gallery tours as well as scratching just about any itch interests wise – You’re into space? NASA in DC has a tour. You like Mexican art and history? Try the Frida Kahlo Museum in Mexico City. Fancy some Christian iconography? Boom, Sistine Chapel! There’s a museum or gallery tour to suit all tastes.
(Not) Going to the Theater
Whether or not you were a regular theater-goer before the wonderful new age of online possibilities, you should give it a go digitally. You can find plenty of shows on theater websites directly, or even on Youtube if you know what you’re looking for.
BroadwayHD has a free 7-day trial option, and is under 10 bucks a month after that, and Filmed on Stage points you in the direction of other sites rather than charging you to watch theater. Some of these sites will be paid, but there is also a Free Productions section.
When I watch a play or musical online, I like to pretend I’m really at the theater. So, I have a drink and a chat with my watching-partner over Zoom before the play, and stop it in the middle for an ‘interval’ too where we can have more refreshments and talk about the production.
It might sound a little forced, but it really makes the evening feel special and allows you time to interact with your date.
(Not) Going to A Concert
Loads of bands and artists are live streaming all their shows these days. Check out the listings on SongKick and see if anything you’re interested in is coming up.
Going to concerts together has long been a part of bonding with someone new – you might already have chatted about music, but if not why not broach the topic and propose a streamed show together?
Again, Discord is best for this screen share because everyone can control the volume of the show themselves that way.
Anything Else That Feels Right
These are just my top video date ideas – there’s no need to stick to them religiously. If you think something sounds fun, and it seems like it would be possible through a video call or screen sharing, go ahead and propose it.
The worst thing your potential date can say is no. And if it all goes wrong technically? No worries, you’ll probably laugh about it. We’re all learning the ropes of this digital dating thing.
Video Date Tips
So, you now know to be prepared, look your best and make sure your tech setup isn’t going to let you down.
My other tips for a date video call are simple, and really apply to all first dates, though I know being on video can throw things off so maybe a reminder is a good idea.
Firstly, have an excuse ready if you want to ditch the date. There’s nothing wrong with realizing early that someone just isn’t for you, but it’s best to let them down gently.
So, when you set up your video date maybe casually mention another arrangement a little later (and if you’re having a great time you can just claim it was cancelled), or plant the seed that you have a lot of work to finish.
The specifics don’t really matter, as long as you can make a plausible excuse to end the call without hurting anyone’s feelings.
Sometimes video calls can feel a little unreal, and that’s why this next piece of advice is important: Don’t give out any personal information, and if you feel uncomfortable at any point trust your gut. You’d stick by those rules on an in-person date, so do the same when it’s digital.
Is There A Video Dating App?
Several dating apps have introduced video dating in the last couple years, while others already had the feature enabled.
Bumble video and Tinder video are both new, and proving popular with gen z and millennial daters. Eharmony also has a video dating option, which is one of the most popular dating sites for 20 years now.
Finally, there are apps like Flingster that are totally based on video. This is more of a wild-card option though, connecting you with users worldwide at random.
But just keep in mind that a lot of these folks are looking for something a bit raunchy, so only hop on there if you’re not too worried about strictly viewing things SFW.
My final thoughts here are simple: go for it!
There really is so little to lose with a first date video call. If it’s awkward, or you don’t get on, you don’t even have to drag yourself home afterwards! And if you do a fun activity together, then that’s going to be enjoyable even if you don’t totally click.
Video dating only feels weird because we’re still getting used to it. But online dating generally used to feel weird too (seriously, it felt weird like 8 years ago!) and now it’s 100% the norm.
So, you may as well learn to love video dating now as it’s probably going to take over!