Introvert’s Guide To The Good Life: The Online Dating Scene

Two dating experts explain the hidden beauty of video dating and what you should do on your next one.

Dating has moved indoors.
Dating has moved indoors these days. Ted Eytan / Flickr via Creative Commons
Dating has moved indoors.
Dating has moved indoors these days. Ted Eytan / Flickr via Creative Commons

Introvert’s Guide To The Good Life: The Online Dating Scene

Two dating experts explain the hidden beauty of video dating and what you should do on your next one.

In the middle of a pandemic, dating might be the last thing on your mind.

But some singles are feeling more isolated now than ever, and some of them want to do something about it.

According to Bela Gandhi, a dating expert with the Smart Dating Academy in Chicago, dating app and website use is higher than usual.

“Forty eight percent of American adults are single,” Gandhi said. “[That’s] 118 million people. So if you think you’re alone, and sometimes it can feel this way, why not get on the apps right now?”

Nerdette host Greta Johnsen talked to Gandhi and San Francisco-based dating coach Logan Ury about the kinds of advice they’re giving their clients right now. 

What if I don’t like the idea of online dating?

Bela Gandhi: Listen, nobody’s into online dating. I have yet to meet a human being that’s like, “Oh my God, Bela! I’m so psyched to online date!” Not one human that’s 21 to 71 years old that I’ve worked with — gay, straight, does not matter — nobody is excited about it.

Just look at it as something you need to put in your dating repertoire. If you want to meet people — especially now in this pandemic world and even post-pandemic — for 2020, you’ve got to look at things a little bit differently, and look at dating apps and sites as your friend. Change your mindset.

Is this the right time to start dating?

Logan Ury: It depends on the person and where they’re at emotionally. If they’re like, “People in my family are sick,” or “I’ve been laid off and I just kind of need a break,” I wouldn’t force them to date. I’d say, “Take this time to chill out and make sure you’re in a mentally healthy place.”

I think this is a time that people can use to get more self aware. So for someone who doesn’t want to actively date right now, they can use this time to explore some of their patterns. So one thing that I’ve done with my clients is I’ve had them sit down and make a little spreadsheet of their past relationships. And it’s just for them, it’s nothing too official. Just the people I dated, how we met, what I liked about the relationship, what I didn’t and why it ended.

And the idea is you can start to notice patterns in your own behavior. Are you always the one to end it? Is somebody else always the one to end it? Does it end because you weren’t upfront about what you were looking for? And I think people can use this time to make themselves even better daters for once this is over.

On the hidden beauty of video dates

Gandhi: Online dating in general is two-dimensional. It’s like photos, 300 characters, and we build fantasies about who this person actually is. Which sometimes leads to disappointment when we meet them in real life. Because someone might have a great cyber-personality, but when you meet them, it’s a totally different person.

So the beauty of video is that it’s such a great interim step where that 2-D image and the profile comes to life, where you can actually see this person. You can hear their voice and their inflections. It’s awesome!

What do I even do on a video date?

Ury: I think a good first date on video chat is just chatting with the person. Some people like to set a time limit for it. Not that you can’t go over that, but it kind of takes the pressure off. If you say, “Let’s chat for 20 minutes and then I’ve got a call with my friends from college,” that way if it doesn’t go well you a have a natural out. ...

So a first date on video chat could just be a regular chat getting to know the person. It’s kind of a vibe check. And then a second date could be maybe you both of you go on walks around your neighborhood, and you FaceTime and give them a little tour. Maybe you order in the same dinner, and then it’s almost like you’re sharing the meal. And going from there, you can increase the dates both in terms of length and also the vulnerability of how deep the conversation goes.