For a while in 2020, the world of dating, for the most part, came to a standstill. It moved online, became an old-fashioned dance of getting to know one another, and many people had to figure out ways to entertain themselves when much of the activities were delivered via screen. Now, as in-person dating picks up again, some couples still haven’t left the digital realm, and the virtual dating may continue. For those of us who, like me, met people far away thanks to Tinder Passport virtual is pretty much the only way we can still date thanks to the various border restrictions. And while creativity in dates is all well and good, you can’t go wrong with the classics. Soleil and I have been seeing each other for almost eight months now and have a few dates we fall back on as some of our favorite things to do. If you’re in a similar situation, particularly with a time difference, then maybe these will work for you.
- Watch a movie or show together. We’ll start with a real classic here. Not only is this a fun way to either share your favorite films with each other, but also a way to watch new things too. In-person couples spend plenty of time doing this so it’s kind of nice that this is still an option for virtual couples too. Some streaming services, like Disney+ or Netflix, even offer ways for people to sync their screen so you don’t have to countdown and try to time it yourself. The difficulty, for couples in different countries or when you don’t have the same services, is availability. However, if movies are a particular passion of either of yours then it’s a great thing to do together, and talk about too. Soleil and I have watched nine movies together and the finale for WandaVision, and the list is always growing.
- Cook the same meal. While other couples can share meals often, it’s harder for those of us in the virtual realm. This date requires a bit more planning but the pay-off is great. Ahead of time, agree on what you’re going to make. It can be a general meal like stir-fry or pasta or a specific recipe. Gather your ingredients and start cooking at about the same time. You won’t be totally in sync, but if you finish around ten minutes of each other then that’s pretty good. It’s really nice to be able to eat a meal you cooked “together” and share what worked and didn’t, and maybe look forward to when you’ll be able to do it in-person. So far, Soleil and I have made fried rice with tofu, ramen, and chocolate chip cookies. The key thing is not to do something overly difficult or time-consuming, or that requires a lot of fancy gadgets. Being able to talk while you’re cooking and pretending you’re doing a competition or Food Network show is the fun part.
- Play games. A lot of virtual couples are able to play online MMORPGs together or network through video games. If you’re not too competitive or find a way to work as a team, this can be a fun activity that might show how a person reacts under pressure or stress. Soleil and I aren’t really into those kinds of games overly much, but we do spend a decent amount of time at Board Game Arena. It’s not just your average chess or Yahtzee; there are also more complicated strategy games. I’ve learned to play a lot of new ones, and love getting the upper hand after a few rounds. 7 Wonders Duel is our current favorite and every time we play is a little different, but always a good time. There are more standard games you can play without systems like 20 Questions, Truth or Dare, or downloading apps preloaded with activities (although these are hit or miss for distance).
- Make a playlist. This is a ‘date’ that can work whether you’re meeting or not, and the great thing about it is when you listen it’ll remind you of that person. You can decide on a theme, a genre, an artist, a mood, etc. and work together to build it. Alternatively, you can surprise each other with music that reminds you of the other person and listen or talk about it on your dates. Since September, Soleil and I have been building an ‘infinite’ playlist which is now almost twenty hours long because we both love music. It’s also interesting to hear how the emotional tone of the songs has changed over time as we dated. This kind of date is like passing the aux around. You hope the other person has good taste and, if they don’t, you can either make fun of them or learn to live with them.
- Have a mini book club. This is a relatively niche date idea but I think it works well for the right people. Similar to the cooking date, plan ahead and both acquire copies of the same book. It can be one of your favorite books, one neither of you has read, or somewhere in between that. Then decide how you’ll read. Will you have finished a few chapters before the date so you can discuss it? Or will you read together during the date? Soleil and I took turns reading chapters out of A Monster Calls to each other, and it reminded me—in all the best ways—of story time when I was younger (probably because he did voices). You can talk about the book, watch a movie adaptation if there is one, and learn more about what each other enjoys—particularly in books.
Those are just five ideas that work in some ways for virtual dates. Other ideas can include hikes, virtual vacations or trips, taking an online class together, giving and opening gifts, etc. I’ve mainly focused on these ones because they work for me and Soleil and are what we enjoy. Luckily, the internet is full of other ideas and it isn’t as hard to be apart as it would have been even ten years ago. Still, for me and all the other the other people who are counting down the days till the distance is a little smaller, I hope these virtual dates are numbered and the in-person ones come sooner rather than later.