Singapore dating experts share tips to having a great virtual first date

PHOTO: 123rf

First dates can be daunting, and perhaps even more so when you are being asked to do it virtually as we are all practising social distancing to flatten the Covid-19 curve. 

To help you navigate the world of making a good impression and great connections online, we got several experts on dating in Singapore to share handy tips to help you find friendships and perhaps love while you stay at home.  

Tip #1: Create a conducive dating environment & background

Having a conducive space for your date at home can make or break the first meeting experience, says Lee Jing Lin, co-founder of Kopi Date.

"Find a private spot at home with strong wifi connection, and with the least amount of noise and distraction," she suggests, adding that putting a sign on your door to not be disturbed might be a good idea if you share your living space with others.

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When you date someone from your home, your background on the camera becomes a reflection of you too, and you may not want to show your bedroom or bathroom on your first date, says Lunch Actually CEO, Violet Lim.

If your options are limited, the least you should do is to unsure that your bed is made and there's no dirty laundry lying in plain sight, suggests GaiGai Singapore CEO Alex Tam. He also advises that all notifications on your devices should be switched off to minimise any disruptions on the date.

You may want to consider having some items of interest that you can share with your date in the background, says Society W CEO, Wendy Tse Wulff, citing putting a guitar within the frame of your camera if you play the guitar.

While taking a call against a white wall may be a safe option, she says that it "can be quite dull and you may be literally 'putting your walls up'".

Tip #2: Light yourself in a flattering manner

As we've all been working from home for a while, you might have seen colleagues in rather unflattering lighting on your video calls with them.

All the dating experts we spoke to recommend that you choose a spot that has natural lighting streaming in in front of you to show off your best side.

In a pinch, move a table lamp in front of you, and whatever it is, avoid having the light shine from behind you.  

Tip #3: Watch out for your camera angle 

Your camera should be positioned directly at eye level, not too low or too high, shares Lim. This helps you to maintain eye contact with your date, and look into his or her eyes when you are talking like you would on an actual date.

Xen Mok from Dating Moments advises setting your device on a stable platform rather than in your hands as no matter how hard you try, it's difficult to not shake at all, and "it's uncomfortable for the other party to engage with an unstable image."

Your positioning from the camera is key too, says CompleteMe founder Michelle Goh. "Don't place the camera too far from yourself as the person will feel disconnected. A good gauge is for you to take up about a third of the screen."

Tip #4: Relax, be yourself and engage with your date

Other than engaging over digital devices rather than in person, normal first date rules apply even over a virtual platform, say all the experts.

One easy way to break the ice is to talk about the elephant in the room, suggests Mok. "Get real and acknowledge that this new experience might not be the most comfortable set up. When people relate to one another over new experiences, it brings that together and might make them feel closer."

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Other topics Tam recommends to get the conversation flowing are food, hobbies or travel stories, common interests that most people have. "It could also be fun to talk about what you want to do most after circuit breaker."

If you are worried, Wulff suggests having a list of ice breaker questions prepared ahead of time that you can refer to if the conversation starts to wane.

However, remember not to put too much pressure on yourself to have a "result" from the date. "Dating is an exploration and it should be fun. Take it as a chance to meet new people and learn more about yourself," says Lee.

"The key to an enjoyable and memorable conversation is when both parties are comfortable, open to sharing and listening attentively, instead of hogging the conversation. Genuine conversations are the key to the success of any date," shares Lee.

Wulff adds, "Don't take it too seriously, remember to joke, laugh and be yourself. No one likes talking to someone who is super serious all the time."

And if it all goes well, drop a note to let the other person know that you had a good time, and make plans for a second virtual date, says Lim, and who knows where it might lead. 

Click here for AsiaOne's Circuit Breaker Survival Guide (CBSG).

kailun@asiaone.com