Striking up a conversation with a stranger in-person is already hard enough, but breaking the ice while dating online during COVID-19 has added extra challenges.
Sex and relationship expert Jessica O’Reilly recently visited The Morning Show to discuss the do’s and don’ts of navigating online dating.
According to O’Reilly, a number of don’ts include: “playing games,” nagging, being too sexually forward or using familiar nicknames like “baby” or “sweetie.”
“Try not to copy and paste like you’re shooting fish in a barrel. [Don’t] write the same message to hundreds of people, because in online dating, it’s actually the opposite. It is a big wide ocean of daters so it’s not that easy,” she says.
When it comes to finding a perfect opening line, O’Reilly says there are four themes — using the person’s name to make them feel seen; prove you’ve read their profile by referencing their bio; initiate normal conversations like asking how their day is going, and joking around.
For those who don’t receive responses, O’Reilly says it’s important not to bombard people with messages, however, she acknowledges rejection can be tough.
How COVID-19 has changed dating
“Rejection is something that we feel in our body, in our brains. It reminds us of social rejection, which can feel like a threat to our livelihood,” she says.
While it’s hard to not take it personally, O’Reilly emphasizes there is a lot of data that shows many users are on dating apps to browse.
“It might not actually be about you. It might be that they’re kind of just there, casually,” she says.
To try to get beyond small talk, O’Reilly says dating apps have started to make things easier by integrating games, quizzes and events to do together on platforms.
Attending a digital event together like a concert or art show and then talking about it together after is another option, she adds.
“I think it can reduce the pressure of a prolonged, eye-contact video chat that requires that dedicated attention that can be very intimidating for many of us,” she says.
Dating online can result in feelings of disconnect and a delay in trust, whereas being in-person allows parties to pick up on tone and body language easier, she adds.
“When there’s a delay, it can affect the way you trust someone or the way you interpret what they’re saying. So I think you’ll have a little bit more leeway when it’s in person,” she says.
Although the future remains uncertain, O’Reilly adds having conversations about potential in-person meetings in advance is important.
“(Talk) about your comfort level, have you been tested, are you vaccinated, do you want to sit six feet apart, do you want to wear masks,” she says, adding that it will vary depending on the person and the applicable restrictions in their areas.
(For more info on online dating during the pandemic, watch the video, top.)
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