After a week or two of witty banter via messaging, you finally meet up IRL with the person you’ve matched with on Tinder (or Hinge, the League, Grindr, or any of the other 10 million online dating apps). You shower, pick an outfit, and text your best bud saying you’re stoked for this date. Then, within seconds of sitting down for dinner, you can tell there’s zero chemistry. Maybe your date doesn’t look like their pictures. Maybe their monotone voice is a huge turn off. Maybe having a conversation face-to-face is like pulling teeth. Whatever the reason, you’re not into it.
It’s frustrating, especially since your texting was so promising. It also feels like a waste of time because, frankly, it was. That said, there is something to help pre-screen first dates with people you meet online: FaceTime. As it turns out, a growing number of singles suffering from dating app fatigue say they’ve started FaceTiming before they meet potential partners in order save time and spare themselves from disappointment.
We’re calling the practice advance screening. Unlike ghosting, zombieing, and other uniquely modern habits resulting from dating app fatigue, this one helps prevent that fatigue from happening in the first place.
Online dating has become “extremely frustrating and fruitless,” says Courtney Cleman, CEO of the V-Club, a studio in New York City that offers courses on sex, relationships, and wellness. “The issue is a combination of no chemistry or mental connection. I tell my clients that if they FaceTime before the first date, they can probably eliminate 90% of bad dates.”
Troy, 26, started FaceTiming people he connected with through dating apps back in 2018, when he became more serious about dating. He started doing it because he had so many “disappointing or awkward meetings” with people he’d met online. “While the vibe was often wonderful over text, it’s sometimes very off in person,” he said.
A short FaceTime is an easy way to quickly tell if you’d be into the person, he explained.
Brian, 27, agreed. “I think FaceTiming can help combat dating fatigue … We spend so much time organizing and planning dates only to sometimes get there and have it easily flop. Chatting briefly helps ease into the conversation, beyond the standard canned answers on dating apps, to get a better sense of the person.”
Subscribe to Men’s Health
The key to a successful advance screening is keeping the face-to-face convo short and sweet. You can do this by establishing a time limit before you hop on the call. This will come in handy if you realize you’re not that into the person. “You have to declare a time limit on the call beforehand, otherwise there’s pressure to keep a conversation going out of politeness,” explained Troy. “Transitioning to signal an end can also be uncomfortable because neither person wants to seem rude dismissing the other, nor eager to end the call.”
Messaging your partner, “I got five minutes before I have to head back to work, but want to quickly FaceTime?” eliminates the problem. After five minutes, you can politely say you have to go, and the other person won’t be hurt. Then, if they still seem interested in meeting up after the call, you can let them down via message, which is way easier than via FaceTime.
Still, not all guys are gung-ho on the idea of video chatting before a first date. Adam, 32, was recently asked by someone whom he was messaging with on Tinder to FaceTime. He recalled being “totally weirded out.”
“It’s the dating equivalent of when a stranger makes awkward chat in an elevator or bathroom … you’re caught off-guard,” he said.
The video chat was uncomfortable, as he suspected, and then he actually rejected going on the date with the person after. “You cannot guarantee a first date will be amazing by overly grilling the person or making them do this sort of FaceTime-dating-interview situation,” he said. “You go with your gut, take a chance and meet, otherwise, you’re jeopardizing turning the person off completely who could have been great.” (For what it’s worth, maybe FaceTiming was still worthwhile? It seems like Adam wasn’t going to connect with this person no matter what, and at least he figured that out without going on a date—even if he hated the video call!)
“Unfortunately, some people are terrible on video calls. “
Bryony Cole, CEO of the Future of Sex, predicts the pre-date FaceTime will be increasingly popular as digital-savvy youths hit the dating scene. “Most younger generations feel comfortable with video as a standard way of communicating with one another, having come of age during the friendship screen era of TikTok, Whatsapp, and other video communication platforms as main modes of staying connected and personal 24/7,” she said.
Yet, there are still some people—no matter the age—who are just plain awkward or uncomfortable with FaceTiming, especially video chatting someone they’d never met in real life.
“Unfortunately, some people are terrible on video calls,” Cole said. “They might be more nervous trying to take a video call because they aren’t used to it. If you are good at video, and the other person is new to that, chances are they are going to feel intimidated and bomb the first FaceTime with you.”
That’s why Troy, while still being a proponent of FaceTiming dates before meeting IRL, takes the video chat with a grain of salt. “There’s a risk for both people to be unfairly counted out without an accurate representation of their personality,” he said. “It’s important to not jump the gun with your judgment, as with anything else.”
Our relationship experts still say it’s worth it. “For most of us, myself included, it takes only the first fraction of a date (sometimes seconds) to understand whether you are going to click with a person or not,” Cole explained. “Video chat can save you the time you’d spend getting dressed and traveling to meet them, and reduce the pressure of a first date.”
So why not try a little advance screening? Worse comes to worst, it costs you an awkward five-minute call. That sure sounds better than wasting an entire Friday night.
Zachary Zane is a Brooklyn-based writer, speaker, and activist whose work focuses on lifestyle, sexuality, culture, and entertainment.
Source: Mens Health