Social distancing went beyond standing six feet apart when you’re buying baby carrots and oat milk at the grocery store. People across the world lost the opportunity to meet new people face-to-face and the chance to develop romantic relationships. Well, not really. Who needs a bar and a wingman when you have technology?
Check out our tips for Zoom dates and their strategies!
Even if you’re on the other side of the world, nothing can stop you from meeting that special someone with the help of Zoom, among other online chatting services. However, a long-distance relationship over Zoom isn’t always a digital fairytale. Sometimes your internet sucks. Sometimes their internet sucks. Maybe it’s both.
“The internet connection in my room was so bad that to sleep in a call together, I would have to sleep on the floor on the opposite side of the room to be closer to the router,” Central Carolina Community College sophomore Chris Hyde said.
Lousy WIFI makes long-distance relationships even more distant. Nothing ruins the mood more than your significant other trying to whisper sweet nothings to you while sounding like a bootleg T-Pain. But never fear you online love birds, here’s a list of easy online dates along with a couple of strategies to help deal with those online hiccups.
1. Take Some Time to Get to Know Each Other (Keep It Simple!)
What’s the point of going on a date (besides the possibility of getting laid)? Getting to know each other, of course. Try thinking of a list of questions to ask your significant other and spend the night interviewing each other over Zoom. Try to avoid questions with simple answers (i.e., “What’s your favorite color?”) instead, go for questions that’ll lead to anecdotes like, “what was the first thing that you’ve ever done that got you sent to the principal’s office?” That way you’ll learn whether or not you’re dating a total dweeb or a social deviant.
2. Movie Night
We live in the era of streaming, so why not watch Kill Bill for the 30th time? Not feeling a movie? Video essays recently jumped in popularity on YouTube. If you don’t want to experience the rush of trying to synchronize your screens, set up a watch party on Netflix or use the share screen function on Zoom (just remember to go into your settings to make sure you share the sound too).
3. Play Together
Sure, you can’t sit on the couch together talking smack, but you can sit at your desk while trash-talking over voice chat. Nothing keeps a relationship happier than beating your boyfriend’s time in Hades. Not into gaming? You can still play games online, like the globetrotting GeoGuesser. Just put on screen share, then try to figure out which part of the world you’re exploring with your significant other. What’s more fun than bewilderedly roaming around in a foreign country with your best friend?
4. Learn Together
Want to learn how to make a souffle? Whatever you guys want to know; the internet will have it. You can spend a date looking up recipes or “how to” videos, then follow the directions together while on a call. Try making the perfect paper airplane while on a call together, or maybe try making the best pancakes ever. Not only will you learn something new, but you will also learn more about your significant other’s interests. Keep it stored in the back of your mind so you can surprise them when you finally meet for real.
5. Go Through a Virtual Museum
Google Arts & Cultures teamed up with exhibits worldwide to put some of the most famous galleries in the world online for our enjoyment. No screenshare needed. Pick a destination with your significant other and take your time examining it to your heart’s content while discussing it. Personal recommendation: Rijksmuseum lets you take a super close look at Johannes Vermeer’s The Milkmaid. The level of detail in this painting is insane.
6. Drawing “Contest”
Nobody said you need Vermeer-level skills for this contest. It doesn’t matter if you can’t even draw a stick figure, nothing beats getting a hand-drawn picture. Draw each other the best (or worst) you can while on camera. Embrace your inner Michelangelo getting your significant other’s nose just right. Then show off your beautiful or hilarious results. You can also literally draw something together with Flockmod to make a romantic (or silly) collaborative piece.
7. Read Together
Have a little book club by reading aloud to your partner then discussing what you just read. Show off that big brain of yours by telling them why Gatsby needs to stop stalking Daisy and get with Nick. If you’re feeling goofy, try screensharing a dramatic play or fanfiction. Don’t be afraid to get into your roles. Embrace your inner voice actor. The more dramatic, the better.
8. Listen to Music Together
Heard a song on the radio that reminded you of your first date? Why not share it? Look up the song and share your screen with Zoom or Discord or whatever. You can also use Spotify to host a listening party. No synchronized countdown needed.
9. Go (Online) Shopping Together
Don’t let distance keep you from shopping together. Whether it be gifts for your loved ones, clothes shopping for yourself, or picking out the perfect throw pillow for your future apartment, send your significant other a link to ask for their opinion. It’s like going to the mall with them, except without the crowds.
10. Fall Asleep Together
Why shouldn’t you guys sleep together because you guys don’t live nearby? Go to bed while gaining some low-effort intimacy points. Don’t think it’s worth it? Remember, Hyde slept on the floor so she could fall asleep with her partner. After a long day, get cozy, start a call with your significant other so you can drift off to sleep in each other’s company. Just knowing that they’re there will surely calm those nerves. Bonus points if you wake up with them.
If your internet attempts to ruin your date night, keep calm and remember these pearls of wisdom:
1. It’s okay to be frustrated but try not to get mad.
Yes, it sucks that you aren’t with them right now. Yes, technology stinks sometimes. But just like how getting mad during a date makes things uncomfortable, so is getting angry that a video keeps stuttering or the audio cuts out every ten minutes. Try to relax.
“It sucks, but there’s not really anything you can do about it, so it’s not worth getting upset over. I don’t have any other option for internet service that doesn’t chug d–ks,” University of North Carolina Wilmington junior Laura Palmer said.
Well said. Not all of us can get the best internet so don’t get an attitude in front of your significant other. Cursing at your laptop won’t make Jeff Goldblum start turning into a fly again.
2. Laugh it off.
Try to find the humor in the situation. It’s pretty funny that your partner’s video cut off while they a striptease for you. Silly things like a frozen screen stuck on an unflattering frame shouldn’t ruin a nice night. Keep things lighthearted. In fact, try pranking each other by pretending to glitch out right before you say something important.
3. You can always try again.
It’s not the end of the world if your internet experiences a bad day. If it worked before, it will probably work another time. Just keep refreshing the page over and over again until that video starts playing.
4. If something isn’t working, try something else.
Okay, things can disappear. Sites go down for maintenance. Videos get copyright strikes. Also, things don’t work sometimes, and there’s nothing that you can do about it. Luckily, one click gives you access to a vast library of content. If your favorite YouTuber’s review of The Room disappears, don’t worry about it. Plenty of other reviews of The Room float around in cyberspace, waiting for you to click on them.
5. It’s your internet. Not you.
Your internet not working says nothing about your quality as a romantic partner. You doing your best with what you have keeps the relationship going.
“Whether it be issues with internet, data, reception; our digital versions or avatars and time connected online really doesn’t represent who we are as people,” UC Santa Barbara senior Alejandro Flores said.
Nicely said. Yes, the screen shows an image of you; however, you are not a screen. Neither is your significant other. Forgive yourself for the hiccups that you encounter. Your voice doesn’t cut out and go out of sync in real life (if it does, please go see a doctor immediately).
6. Sometimes typing something is better than speaking.
Sometimes calls drop, but that doesn’t mean you can’t finish what you planned on saying. Writing out how you feel gives you more time to think about your feelings.
“I feel like typing is better for me than video, especially during an argument because I always say things I don’t mean. Typing them lets me think actually before I send them,” Depaul University junior Izzy Saraceno said. “I like to go back and have nice messages because I’m also a forgetful person on top of the word vomit.”
Typing not only helps you slow down, but it can also give your significant other something to go back to look at when they miss you. Maybe take a break from that glitchy screen to type your significant other something that they can save forever.
7. Your relationship is more than this Zoom call.
A few bad calls can make your relationship seem like it’s impossible to keep. That’s not true. Some calls will be glitch-free, some won’t. Accept the good with the bad, but don’t let them define your relationship. There’s a lot more to your relationship than the time you spend online. You still think about them, and you likely planned for what you want to do with them in the future. Hold on to those feelings, rather than focus on the obstacles of being away from each other.
8. You can keep the romance alive in other ways.
Send each other short messages or funny memes throughout the day. Send each other surprise gifts when you can. You can even send each other notes by carrier pigeons if you’re into that.
“For my boyfriend’s birthday, I gave him a gift a day for a month until his birthday. Being in a long-distance relationship forced me to be even more creative with my gifts because I couldn’t be there to give them,” University of Texas in Austin graduate student Francesca Simmons said. “It was honestly more fun to be able to talk about the gift at the end of the day, since it was something to look forward to and keep our conversation fresh!”
Gift giving excites both parties, so don’t be afraid to send your significant other a little something. There are plenty of ways to ensure that spark stays strong.
9. Remember: your communication may be online, but the relationship is IRL.
If you care about each other, then your relationship is genuine. A screen separating the two of you with out-of-sync audio doesn’t change that. Yes, you two don’t see each other a lot, so the little annoyances can pile up making your relationship seem less viable. However, you’re talking to a person who cares about you just as much as you care about them. Sounds like a relationship to me. Just like how IRL couples go on movie dates, you guys binge Twin Peaks.
10. Also, remember: this is temporary.
The pandemic is temporary, and your long-distance relationship is temporary (in a good way). If you two love each other, then you’ll be together eventually. Circumstances just need to align for your long-distance relationship to turn into an IRL one. Never lose hope. One day, you two will sit together and laugh about all the digital annoyances that bugged your relationship. Until then, bear with that slow internet speed for a bit longer.