‘I was living my best dating life pre-lockdown – I want to go back to that’

Yasmin Lajoie, music manager

I’ve always been quite active on the dating scene, so when lockdown hit and I couldn’t see anyone, I found it really hard. Video calls aren’t easy, either. I’m an intuitive person so when I meet someone in real life, I can tell whether we’re compatible almost straight away. But on a Zoom date, you don’t get that. There’s not so much of a spark, and I find you don’t get that proper first impression of each other.

I did get into video dating eventually – I found drinking wine helped! – and I spent a lot of time getting to know people, which was nice. There were a lot of long conversati­ons. Then, when lockdown eased, I went a bit mad. I went on the app Feeld and had six dates in the space of two weeks, both in parks and having people around to mine.

I’m bisexual, and I found men were much more willing to meet up at this point than women. There were a few women I’d been dating virtually who were pretty cautious and likely to ask me questions about how much I’d been isolating or whether I’d had an antibody test. Men were a bit more like ‘fuck it’, and seemed more sexually motivated.

More than anything, this time has taught me about what it is I fancy in other people. I always thought I was very much attracted to people’s personalit­ies and intellects over anything else. Although that’s still important to me, I’ve learnt that there’s more to it than that. I have to meet people and hug and touch them to know whether I like them or not.

I’m glad I’ve learnt that, but I do still miss a lot about dating as it was. I miss the atmosphere that a busy pub or bustling restaurant has. I want to meet people when ordering drinks at a bar. I think it will be a while until that happens. I’m happy for now, but I can’t help but feel I was living my best dating life pre-lockdown. I want to go back to that. Follow Yasmin on social media @yasminlajo­ie

‘Video dating changed everything’

Pippa Cleary, musical theatre composer

What I never used to like about dating was the endless back and forth. Messaging people can really drag on forever. Pre-lockdown, I remember I’d ask someone a question and get a reply three or four hours later – then I probably wouldn’t go back to them until the next day. It would be quite a while before you decided to actually meet in person, and so someone would always lose interest. Keeping track was quite overwhelmi­ng!

Video dating really changed everything for me. I used a dating app called The Intro, which sets up a 30-minute video call within five days if you like someone’s profile. Although it might sound daunting, I found that everyone I spoke to was in the same boat, and said things like, ‘Are you nervous too?’ and, ‘This is all a bit strange, isn’t it?’

It means that everything moves along much faster. You can never tell whether you like someone until you talk to them properly, but doing it over video saves you the time and effort that going on a real-life date takes. It’s not so much of a commitment – you can just put some lipstick on and be done 30 minutes later.

This experience has also helped me to compartmen­talise dating in a way that’s much healthier. With all the different apps and endless messaging, you can easily waste time on something that’s probably not going to go anywhere. Whereas now, I can mainly focus on dating for the half an hour when I have a video call scheduled.

I’ve met some really great people who I’ve then gone on to have dates with in person. Going forward, I’ll continue to do video calls before meeting people in real life because that hopefully will mean fewer disappoint­ments. It’s just that extra filter that means you’re taking less of a risk by going on a date with someone you barely know. There’s nothing worse than getting dressed up for nothing! The Intro is available to download on both the Apple and Google Play stores

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