How Zoom's New Rules Can Help Make Virtual Dating Less Awkward

In March 2020, the world shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Everything went online — and that included dating, whether by Google Video, FaceTime, or Zoom, with Zoom's popularity surging in the early days of the pandemic. Per TeamStage, Zoom went from having 10 million daily meeting participants in 2019 to a staggering 300 million in early 2020. Many wondered, given the circumstances and no foreseeable end to the pandemic, if meeting by Zoom — and by extension, Zoom dating — was here to stay.

Turns out, there are plenty of benefits that come along with dating via Zoom over dating in real life — and it's not just that you can do it from your living room in pajamas. As LMFT and Los Angeles-based relationship therapist Amy McManus told WeddingWire, "Low investment of effort means you might be inspired to meet more people, thus becoming more likely to meet 'the One.'" 

Essentially, dating over Zoom means you get more bang for your buck (not to mention adding to the convenience of scheduling a few dates in one night). You might even find that dating over Zoom makes you feel better about the most important person in this equation — you. "... You don't have to worry about 'who will pay for what' and you don't have to worry about a kiss at the end of the date," dating coach and relationship expert Julianne Cantarella said to WeddingWire. "You just have to show up, be your genuine and authentic self, charm them and get the second date!"

Why this new Zoom feature might help make dates more comfortable

Although plenty of folks are back to in-person dating, you might still find that you prefer to keep things virtual for the first date, be it because COVID-19 rates are still high across the country, or because you feel more comfortable screening your dates before you meet in person. "My practice has been advocating for video dating as a screener for nearly a decade," behavioral scientist Clarissa Silva told Inverse.

So if you're still looking to connect with potential love interests via Zoom, know that there's a new Zoom feature that will alleviate some of the awkwardness around web video dating. If you don't pay for an annual Zoom subscription, your Zoom meeting will automatically time out after 40 minutes, which, conveniently, is pretty much the amount of time it takes to finish an alcoholic beverage or a cup of coffee. 

Writing for Slate, Heather Schwedel said, "Using Zoom for dating actually transformed the 40-minute limit from drawback to benefit ... Forty minutes is plenty of time to give someone a fair chance before deciding you don't want to meet them in person. But it's also, importantly, a perfect point to pause if you decide you do want to meet them and want to make sure you'll still have ground to cover when you get there." And if you decide that Zoom dating is right for you, there are a few things you'll want to keep in mind.

Some basic tips to best set yourself up for a Zoom date

Although Zoom can help take some of the guesswork out of dating ... it is still, well, dating — a process many find inherently alienating and confusing. Luckily, there are some things you can do to ensure you're putting your best slippered-foot forward and perfect your Zoom call look

First, scope out your surroundings: Make sure you have good internet connectivity, that you have optimal lighting, and that your background is on point, too. "Choose a setting with an intriguing backdrop — art on your wall, a well-stocked bookcase, your Smurf figurines, whatever. Having some cool stuff in the frame gives your date something to ask you about, which helps the conversation go smoothly," Dating Transformation founder and The League dating coach Connell Barrett told Elite Daily.

Then, be sure to have a few topics in mind should the conversation hit a lull — maybe something that stood out to you from their app profile, or previously discussed via text. Avoid common dating mistakes, like being late, lying, or over-drinking. And to Heather Schwedel with Slate's point, make sure your date doesn't go on too long. "You want to spread it out more and experience each other in chunks," said Cherlyn Chong, dating and breakup coach, as well as the host of the Why Women Love Toxic Men Workshop (via Elite Daily). And hey, if it doesn't go well, at least you never had to leave your house.