When you spend four years in a long-distance relationship, you become well acquainted with Skype and FaceTime. I should know: When I graduated from the University of North Carolina, I moved to New York City to take a job in magazines. My boyfriend, however, stayed with his parents in Raleigh while applying for law school. And then he got into law schoolÃ¢â‚¬Â¦in Nashville, Tennessee.
I know that when you mention video chatting, people's minds tend to veer toward Skype sex. But I have to tell youÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Skype isn't actually very sexy. At all. No matter how well you know the person you're chatting with, it's bound to be at least a little awkward. Trust me, you've never realized how unflattering the lighting is in your apartment until you try to look attractive while video chatting. And if your face happens to freeze in a position that makes you look like you're mid-sneeze because you're experiencing connectivity issuesÃ¢â‚¬Â¦well, at least if you're in a long-term relationship, you can laugh it off.
But if you're on a first date, the chances of having a second date are next to zero. Which is why I think the growing number of dating sites and apps offering video chatting capabilities is nothing short of absurd. There's now Dating.fm, Flikdate, Video Date, View N Me, and Instamour. While the exact details vary from service to service, the basic concept is the same: Rather than just relying on messaging someone before meeting up with them, you can also now video chat with them without ever leaving the dating site's interface.
"Nowadays, people think first dates are text messages," Marcel Cafferata, the founder of Video Date, recently told USA Today. But does any woman want her first date to be a series of text messages (or a video chat, for that matter)? In fact, the New York Post recently covered the trend in "premature escalation" texting, a phenomenon that occurs when you've exchanged too many text messages with someone to really have a true first date with them. Sorry for ruining the article for you, but it's not a good thing, and it kills the relationship before it's even started. In other words, this is a problem we should try to fix, not perpetuate.
"First date or not, I think it's a way to break the ice and show a person on the other side a personality and give them clarity about 'Is this a person I want to meet in public?'" Video Date's Cafferata went on to say in the same USA Today article. While this reasoning might sound logical, it brings me to the second thing I've learned about video chatting: Seeing someone's image on your computer screen or smartphone is always a poor substitute for spending time with them in-person. You can't tell how you feel, viscerally, when someone puts his or her hand on your forearm if you're talking with them via a video feed. No one has ever walked away from a video chat date thinking about how sexy the other person's cologne or perfume was. And you might miss noticing their cute dimples on Skype if the connection is choppy.
You wouldn't decide if you want to buy a Prada bag by looking at a knockoff version, right? So why would you decide if you want to pursue a relationship with someone after experiencing a cheap imitation of what it's like to spend time with them? Let's stop finding more ways to delay meeting up with potential love interests face-to-face. Just grab coffee with them (you can be in and out in 20 minutes if you want) and see what happens. And then, if you want to video chat with them afterward, by all means, go for it.
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