Yes, you can find love during CB. Perks to going on your first date virtually

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We may be living in the times of circuit breaker when social distancing is in practice but that shouldn't stop you from finding love. 

Thanks to technology and quick adaptation by dating agencies in Singapore, those who are single, available and looking for a life partner can still meet new people in hopes of finding the right one that they hit it off with.

Instead of meeting in a cafe or restaurant as most first dates go, first dates can take place over gadgets, the same way your zoom meetings are done.

And though it may seem strange to go on a virtual first date, we speak to some dating experts in Singapore and find out that there are some hidden advantages.

Perk #1: Homeground advantage

If you take time to warm up when in a new environment, virtual first dates mean you get to be where you are most comfortable with for your date - your home.

"Being at home while virtually dating can be comforting for those who tend to be nervous or anxious on a first date," says Xen Mok from Dating Moments. "The familiar environment can help calm nerves and make for better and easier conversations."

Dating from home also allows you to share more of your personality, something that might be more challenging when meeting someone at a restaurant.

"You can do a bit of show and tell about yourself hobbies and talents over video, such as showing off the book you are reading or playing a tune on the guitar," says GaiGai Singapore CEO Alex Tam.

Perk #2: You get to skip the awkward stuff

Virtual dates also tend to be shorter, giving you the opportunity to exit gracefully if you don't think that it is working out, without feeling obligated to finish your meal and spend nearly two hours with someone, shares Society W founder, Wendy Tse Wulff.

You also get to avoid the awkward moment of deciding who pays the bill or whether to go dutch at the end of the meeting, says Wulff.

Perk #3: No distractions, deeper engagement

While most of their clients first expressed apprehension about going on a first date virtually, they ended up pleasantly surprised, say all the dating experts.

"It has been to good to see how relationships can develop more deeply when it's stripped bare to this level with no fancy restaurants, alcohol, dating crutches or distractions. Just pure, genuine conversation," shares Wulff.

In fact, Mok has observed that as online dates are held at home, it is easier to foster feelings of intimacy and coupled pairs are able to more quickly feel more comfortable with one another. "Many of them are getting creative about their dates as well," she shares.

Downsides to dating from home

There are, of course, downsides to going on virtual first dates to consider.

"When on a real physical date, there are at least four senses in play: sight, sound, touch and smell. You also get to see how your date interacts with their surroundings and other people, such as the service staff. These help you to get a better sense of your date as a person," explains Lunch Actually CEO Violet Lim.

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Subtle cues like body language are also compromised, making it potentially more difficult to get to know your date better, says Mok.

This is because only two senses — sight and hearing — can be utilised when on a virtual date, explains CompleteMe founder, Michelle Goh. Hence, Lim reckons that for virtual first dates it's more important than ever to dress well and leave a good first impression as you aren't able to rely on the usual non-verbal cues.

As virtual first dates are shorter than the traditional physical date, this means that you have lesser time than usual to showcase your best side.

Bad internet connection can also cause your date to not turn out as well as you hope. "Conversations can get quite awkward when you have to say 'Sorry what did you say?' repeatedly," says Wulff.

Mok adds that if your date is unable to hear you properly, the entire date will prove to be a frustrating affair for both parties. 

It is important though to remember that though it is virtual it should still be treated like an actual date as far as possible, reminds Tam. 

Virtual first dates aren't that scary

Lin, co-founder of Kopi Date shares that 90 per cent of her clients have indicated an interest in connecting further with their matched partners. "We even had one virtual first date that lasted over six hours. It only ended when their parents called them dinner."

For Lim, she is glad that her clients have taken well to virtual first dates and even taken creative steps such as sharing sunset views live with their dates.

For those who may be apprehensive, she has this piece of advice: "I know that it may seem new and scary at first, but give it a try and you may be surprised."

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

kailun@asiaone.com