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DANIELLE FEBRUARY 24, 2021

Does Your Love Life Need A Roadmap to Recovery? This Dating Guru Shares Her Expert Advice

In this blog post, we caught up with relationship expert and Vice President of Dating.com, Maria Sullivan, to talk pursuing romance in the middle of a pandemic, spicing up your Zoom chat and how to get the most out of virtual dating.

The pandemic has seriously changed the way we date. If it was tough to meet people before, it’s a particularly haunting experience now. The once additional online portal to potential lovers has since become the – only – way to connect with fellow singles, which significantly shrinks the pool of hair wash-worthy soul mates and presents a new wave of dating hang-ups.

It’s not all bad news, though. In the absence of IRL dates, bare-skinned shoulder brushes in bars and smouldering looks across a candlelit table set for two, we’ve got the luxury of a slower, more sensual pace. We are woke for the real deal and less willing to compromise where compatibility and emotional chemistry is concerned and that can only be a good thing.

Are we all in agreement that a weak ass wifi signal is THE most accomplished vaginablock?

We’ve got the time to give our hearts their due care and attention and form more meaningful connections than say, a quick swipe and a knee-jerk shag, devoid of the kind of carnal wanting and sexual frustration virtual dating in the middle of a pandemic so kindly affords us. Are we all in agreement that a weak ass wifi signal is THE most accomplished vaginablock?

If you’re all swiped out and feeling deprived of physical intimacy and affection, or if your once vivacious, memoir-worthy dating life is dying a slow death on Zoom, we know just the woman who can help.

In this blog post, we caught up with relationship expert and Vice President of Dating.com, Maria Sullivan, to talk pursuing romance in the middle of a pandemic, spicing up your Zoom chat and how to get the most out of virtual dating.

How do you actually go about asking someone out?

Ask in a way that doesn’t require an immediate response – for example, ‘I’ve been thinking about it and I’d love if we could hangout. We should do something soon.’ Leaving things opened ended to start is very effective, as it gives that person a moment to consider what things could be like, without catching them off guard. It’s also best to ask in person. Feel free to drop hints through text or on social but making that move in person establishes that you really have thought about this, which demands a certain level of respect.

Dating during lockdown is HARD work, how can you know if a virtual connection has the potential to turn into something good IRL?

A virtual connection has the potential to turn into something good IRL if you are noticing signs such as:

Butterflies: You get excited every time you get a notification from your virtual date or you get nervous to have a video chat with them

Commonalities: If you share similar interests and have a lot of things in common

You start to miss them even when you haven’t met in person. Missing someone you have never met isn’t common, but if you start to get those feelings for your virtual date, that could be a sign that the relationship will work out IRL.

How to shake up a virtual date so conversation flows? 

Always have a set of questions prepared for your virtual date. This way, if you are starting to run out of things to talk about or just need an ice breaker to get the conversation started, you will have plenty of options in your back pocket!

Some examples of good questions for a date include:

Question: What do you do for a living?

Why: This question is a good ice breaker. People spend most of their time at work, so it good to get an idea of how they spend their days.

Question: What has been your favorite vacation?

Why: Everyone loves going on vacation and talking about what they did that made it so great. Asking this question on a first date will open up a conversation about where your date has traveled and if you are both into the same types of vacation destinations. 

Question: Would you rather…?

Why: Playing would you rather is a great way to fill any awkward silence and it will also tell you more about your date than you were probably planning on finding out. It is important to keep the questions silly and fun. Don’t ask anything too crazy. 

Question: What’s the most interesting fact you know?

Why: People are full of interesting facts. This is a fun question to ask to find out what your date knows, and you might even learn something new.

How do you conquer first date nerves?

Hit the gym before your date – Instead of letting all of your nervous energy bottle up, hit the gym and let it all out. This tactic helps to get rid of those first date jitters not only because it will help you relax, but it will also get your endorphins flowing creating a sense of confidence and happiness. 

Have a glass of wine – Having one glass of wine will help your body relax a little before your date and put your mind at ease. However, it is not a good idea to show up to a date drunk, so just try to stick to one glass for now.

Put your date in the friend zone for the night Maria Sullivan

Put your date in the friend zone for the night – Telling yourself that you are just meeting up with a friend is a lot less nerve-wrecking than meeting a potential romantic interest for the first time. By friend zoning your date for the first date, it will help to reduce your anxiety and lower your fear of rejection.

Listen to your favorite upbeat music – Keeping yourself distracted before a date is a good way to help first date jitters because you won’t be over thinking everything that can go wrong. The best way to keep yourself distracted is to blast your favorite music. You will be too busy singing and dancing to overthink the night.

Just Breathe – When in doubt, breathe it out. If you can’t seem to get rid of your jitters, find a comfortable place to sit and breathe. Taking multiple deep breaths will help to relax your body and ease your mind. Breathe in calm, happy thoughts, and breathe out any tension and worry. 

How to move on and get back into dating after a tough breakup?

Make sure you are feeling your best. Being absent from the dating scene for an extended period of time might have you feeling out of touch. Nothing is sexier than confidence, so make sure you take the time to refresh your wardrobe, practice yoga or workout, take new pictures for your online dating profiles and do whatever it takes to boost your self-esteem.

Get online. See what the internet has to offer. There are lots of different platforms that cater to different preferences, find what interests you and create a profile.

Maria Sullivan

Take things slow. Jumping straight back into dating after being in a relationship for a long time may be weird at first. Test the waters by starting conversations with multiple people. Once you feel you have gotten back into the swing of things, you can take the next step and meet for coffee or dinner.

How to keep the spark when you’re in a long term relationship / new parents and spending so much time at home during lockdown?

Plan a date night once a week! Whether it be in person or over video chat, date nights are important because it is good to spend quality time with just your partner, giving them your full attention. Daily schedules can get hectic and it might be difficult to have in-depth conversations with your S.O. regularly. By taking time once a week to devote a night just to spending time together and catching up, will help to keep and even strengthen your relationship.

What’s your number one tip for dating confidence?

As the famous saying goes, confidence is key. Participating in a virtual date can be a little scary because you might not know the other person that well, or it might be awkward talking through an electronic device. Being confident in yourself and believing the date will go well, will lead to a better outcome. Be yourself on the date, tell jokes, funny stories, etc. and show your date your true confident personality. Confidence is an attractive quality, especially during a potentially awkward setting such as a virtual date.

My top tip for dating confidence is to just be yourself. When getting to know someone on a date, don’t be afraid to let your true personality shine because you could be sitting in front of someone that you will spend the rest of your life with. If a person doesn’t like / connect with your personality, then they aren’t your match.

Meeting parents for the first time is always a big deal, any tips to calm the nerves and give the best of yourself?

Meeting parents for the first time is very nerve-wrecking, but just breathe and be yourself. Parents love when you ask questions and give them a sense of who you are. Even though it might be difficult, try to be as outgoing and as personable as you can. Really show them who you are. 

What do you think dating will look like in the future? Will more people decide to stick to virtual dates before IRL dates do you think?

With virtual dating, you can connect with people all over the country and really see who is out thereMaria Sullivan

Virtual dating will add another normalized option of finding a partner. A lot of time, people are limited to who they meet because of where they live. With virtual dating, you can connect with people all over the country and really see who is out there, making finding your other half a little easier. Once, the COVID-19 outbreak dies down, people will be able to go out again and mingle, but a lot will still keep virtual dating in their back pocket just to keep all options open.

What are the absolute dos and don’ts of dating, particularly virtual dates?

Do look presentable – Even though you are probably sitting in your home for the date, still get dressed up and look your best. You want to show the person you are interested in that you care about the date and that you took time to get ready to talk to them 

Don’t be in a loud crowded room – Find an empty quiet space where you can hear each other and won’t have outside distractions. You want to make sure your date has your full attention, just like if you were out at a restaurant.

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