After getting out of a five-year relationship in 2021, I found myself back to online dating – but I soon discovered that the pandemic had changed the world of romance considerably.
After a few terrible dates with people who misrepresented themselves by lying about their age, living situation, marital status or hygiene habits (for starters), I soon implemented a policy.
I wouldn’t go out with anyone I hadn’t done a video chat with.
It’s not foolproof, but it helps weed out the people who use old photos, the slobs, and those who can’t hold a verbal conversation. Sounds brutal, I know – but it works.
I’ve never quite shaken the surprise factor from that time I went out with a guy who’d recently got out of jail, and was wearing a GPS-tracking anklet. He wasn’t even 5% as articulate in person as he had been through messaging.
If we’d done a video chat, that date never would have happened. I would have saved myself that extra quote of mascara, and, of course, my time.
So now, if someone starts a video and doesn’t look like their photos, it’s an automatic no, and I end the video chat as politely and quickly as possible.
I’m upfront about why I want to get on video. Some decline, which is confirmation enough for me that the ones who have nothing to hide get it.
Some people use extremely old photos. You can often tell that pics are old if they’re grainy or if it looks like a photo of a photo. Even older smartphone photos have a different look to them, just like you can tell when a snap has a lot of filters (I’ve become quite the expert, can you tell?).
To me, it’s an absolute must to video chat with these folks, who are likely living in the past.
Some people lie about their age, too. One guy I matched and arranged a video call with rounded down to tune of about 20 years! He was 68 not 48, and used older photos.
Unfortunately, we’d already exchanged numbers so I had to block him.
A few weeks later, he used a different number and messaged me to see if I’d ‘changed my mind.’ I blocked him again. Consider this a cautionary tale to use the dating apps’ video chat feature before exchanging phone numbers.
‘Bring your conversation skills’ is one of the things I have in my dating profile, so someone who can’t have a fun, engaging back and forth isn’t for me. Some people can be articulate in writing, but this doesn’t always translate verbally.
If someone becomes a clam on the phone or on video, it makes me wonder if someone (maybe ChatGPT?) has been writing their responses for them. For me, the truth always comes out in a video call.
Some people live like slobs, too. If they can’t find a decent place to sit in their house, or the ‘best’ place is with a sink full of dishes behind them, or on a broken-down couch next to a heap of laundry, then we aren’t a match.
Another reason I’m not willing to ‘just meet someone in person’ is that I live in a semi-rural area in New York State. There aren’t many single people my age in my town – plus, dating in a hamlet of 700 people isn’t a great idea anyway – and I’m not willing to drive 30 minutes or more to find out someone falsely advertised themselves.
As a result of my video policy, I’ve gone on fewer dates – but that’s not a bad thing. Passing the video test doesn’t mean someone is going to become a boyfriend or even a lover – and most do not – but they were decent enough to spend an evening with, and some have become friends.
While I believe that meeting someone on video before meeting in real life is a wise move – especially if you have reservations – another possibility is to not go out with people who give you pause in the first place.
The moral of the story: if it doesn’t feel like a ‘hell yeah’ in your bones, it’s probably a ‘hell no.’
If you feel like you don’t need to endlessly text or have video confirmation that they are who they say they are, that may be your most emphatic green flag.
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