Some ideas for dating from a distance, video chats are now your best friend. (Stock photo)

Love from afar: tips for socially-distance dates

Long-distance relationship experience is really coming in handy

A few years ago in what now seems like another life, I was in a long-distance relationship.

My partner finished university a year earlier than I did and was ready to get the jump on the next chapter of her life, which included a 1,200 km move from central Alberta to Vancouver Island. We decided to try the long distance thing and figured out how to keep our relationship going while physically separated. Little did we know at the time that that information would become very valuable for people who are trying to find love in the time of COVID-19.

While some of my references to dating apps may be a bit dated (I am still in my relationship and am far-removed from the dating world), non-specific tips are still relevant today.

My first tip would be get into a video chat habit. Having that face time is very important, since it allows for more nuanced conversation than what is possible just over the phone or text.

You don’t have to spend all your waking hours on video chat with your significant other, but having that visual reminder that there is another person in your life is very important. Something to note: unless you’re looking directly into the camera, you tend to look down during video chats, which breaks eye contact. My partner and I made sure to give each other a few minutes of direct eye contact during our video chat sessions. This means to look into the camera of your computer to let them feel like they’re seen. After a few moments, switch it up and both of you will have that needed eye contact. While on the topic of video chat, my partner and I would have virtual dates. One of which was the traditional “dinner and a movie” date. We would choose a recipe online together, and cook it together while on video chat. Hopefully (if everything works well) the meal would be ready at the same time. We would then sit at the table and have a nice dinner together.

We would even dress up like we were on a real-life date. After dinner, bring your device into the living room and simultaneously watch the same movie. If you time it right, the sound will even sync up and you can enjoy the movie together. We made this a regular occurrence through our year-or-so of long-distance dating, and having that Friday habit made it something to look forward to all week.

Other benefits of technology during a quarantine include the ability to send photo updates of your day, to send little quick messages to your partner to let them know you’re thinking of them, and to even order little goodies to be delivered at their door. There’s nothing like an unsolicited delivery of a care package to make someone feel appreciated.

Letter writing is great for the hopeless romantic, but may take longer than the more technologically-advanced ways of communicating. Further along those lines, with music-streaming services you can create the virtual equivalent of a mixtape if you want to go for the retro-cheesy thing, or you can even serenade over the internet if you are musically adept (actually, even if you aren’t).

While going on real dates is not really allowed at the moment, there is a lot you can do to make sure the spark stays in your relationship.

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