Virtual meet reality during COVID-19
Pick your dating app poison: Tinder, Bumble, Facebook Dating, Plenty of Fish, Farmers Only… you get the point.
It’s a fact that some of us spend more time on our phones and computers than we do off of them… and due to COVID-19 I know my time on a phone/computer has boomed. I checked my phone’s screen time and my daily average is over 11 hours. I’m disgusted and impressed. This is coming from the person who also sleeps 10 hours a day… I truly have no idea what my other three hours are spent doing. (Probably watching Netflix on my TV.)
What I do know is that this pandemic has made me feel L-O-N-E-L-Y. The social distancing, cancelled events, and early end to the school semester put me in a serious funk. So, where did I turn to in March? My old (not-so-reliable) friend, Tinder. Although I am single right now, it did give me the opportunity to meet new people and to feel connected to actual humans. Tinder and dating apps can create a meaningful connection!! I even met one of my best friends through the app – three years later and we’re still in one another’s lives.
A new dating norm
Since the generation of our parents did not have apps for dating… There can be a bit of judgment/concern. My dad is a college professor…so he hears things. The first time I mentioned being on Tinder, I’m pretty sure I took at least five years off his life. My dear mom had my back by boldly telling him: “IT IS NOT ONLY A HOOK-UP APP. SHE JUST WANTS TO MEET NEW PEOPLE.” …Thanks, Ma. You know what though? She was 100% right. Tinder and other apps are a great option for meeting new people. Reality is that meeting online is becoming the new normal. These apps solely do not need to be used for the purpose of dating or sex. The app Bumble has a setting where you can match with other people who are strictly looking for friends only.
My best advice? Be straight up with yourself and with others about what you are looking for. If someone sends you a message saying they solely want sex… you have every right to “unmatch” then and there. If you would prefer something casual – don’t make others believe you’re looking to enter into a relationship. As COVID-19 numbers decrease and phases of reopening progress – I’m here to share tips and some of my first-hand experience on what to do now that meeting face-to-face has become a reality.
Move forward but keep these tips in mind
Tip #1: Do your detective work.
Girls are notorious for their cyber-sleuthing. But anyone can do it. If someone has where they go to school or where they work on their Tinder profile – go to Facebook, type in their first name followed by the place they work/go to school. This is a mild stalker move but, nine out of ten times you’ll be able to find their profile to ensure that: 1. They are who they say they are and 2. They are indeed single. Once upon a time when I put my detective hat on, I found out a guy who was messaging me had a fiancée. #BoyBye
Tip #2: Snapchat and Instagram are your friends.
We’ve all seen Catfish. Photo based apps – such as Snapchat and Instagram – give you the opportunity to see a person outside of the few photos on their dating profile. This also gives you a chance to find out more about the person. You’ll be able to see what they like to do and find any mutual friends you may have. This will create conversation topics.
** If you add them on Snapchat – make sure your Snapchat map location is turned off. **
Tip #3: FACETIME, FACETIME, FACETIME.
I have a golden rule when it comes to meeting someone from a dating site. You NEED to FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, or SOMETHING before meeting them in person. The opportunity to talk “face to face” on video will give you a chance to see how compatible you two are. More importantly, you get to actually SEE who this person is. You also have the opportunity for more personal conversation when you are face to face rather than texting.
Tip #4: Plan it out.
Be smart and safe about meeting up in person. Even if you have been talking to someone for months due to COVID, you need to remember – you don’t really know this person. Meet in public and hangout in a public place. Go to dinner, go to the movies, get a coffee, whatever will keep you in the public eye. Another thing to remember – drive yourself. Do not let them pick you up at your house. You can drive to the location and meet them there.
Tip #5: Make others aware.
Let your family, a roommate, or your friends know what you’re doing. Tell them who this person is, where you are going to, and when you should be home. Anytime I have ever met someone in person from a dating site, my mom would text me to ensure I was okay. They don’t need to text you outright and ask you “are you okay?” Have them text you a simple “what’s up?” Let them know what you would like them to do if you don’t answer within a specified amount of time. Another smart move is to share your location with a couple of people. Tell them where you are supposed to be at during the date – if they see you are somewhere else – a red flag will go off. It is better to be safe than sorry.
Tip #6: Take precautionary measures.
Did you know that iPhones have a feature where your phone will automatically call emergency services if you rapidly, and repeatedly, press your phone’s side button? If you feel you are in imminent danger it is a quick and easy tool to access. Turn. It. On.
Oh, and another thing? ADD YOUR EMERGENCY CONTACTS.
Be safe, be smart, and be aware. If something feels wrong: trust your instincts and get out of there. If you have been drinking, do not try and drive home – call someone. I promise that a parent/friend would prefer you interrupt their evening or wake them up in the middle of the night, rather than you make a dangerous decision to drive home. (I live in an area with no Uber or Lyft – if they’re available to you – USE THEM) Apps offer their own safety tips. A quick Google search will also provide you with information on how to properly use dating apps. See the following links for more guidelines.
** In no way am I promoting the use of Tinder or other dating apps if you are under the age of 18. But let’s be real… we talk to people online who are a “friend of a friend” all the time in our teenage years. The same tips apply to you too. **
Talk to you next week!