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Damilola Ogunrinde: Things I Learned As I Tried to Help People Find Love During a Global Pandemic

Do not be afraid, we are all looking for a connection.

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I began an adventure two weeks ago – ‘Love in the time of Corona – a Virtual Dating Experience’ for Christian singles. Participants who signed up were set up on 8-10 blind dates. They met other participants in a speed dating manner via zoom. Each couple had 30 minutes to log on, chat and transition promptly to the next call where another participant was awaiting them. They had the option to exchange details during the call, request a longer date, or request that the service send a particular participant their number. Within five days, the dating began. The second round is currently ongoing, while the waiting list for the third round is still open to men.

It is perhaps fair to say that even amid the current Coronavirus crisis – with its isolation and fear, the opportunity to cultivate love and friendships still exists. The beauty of the virtual dating experience, as opposed to online dating via apps, is the fact that you see the person as there are no fake profile photos here. This also enables participants to meet each other and make their own decisions and interpretations.

When I took on this project as my third side hustle – in addition to my two jobs, I didn’t realise that I would have organised so many dates. However, after scheduling more than 250 dates over two weeks for participants in three continents, I am convinced that the work has just begun. It has been a fun journey; I have seen people make remarkable connections, develop friendships or simply say it has been enjoyable learning how to engage in conversations with strangers.

Here are some lessons I have learned through the virtual dating experience, from collating the post date surveys:

Stay Open

I had no idea how many emails and DMs I was going to receive from strangers and friends alike. It was clear that those who enjoyed the process were those who are open and willing to try new things. Do not allow your expectations for the spectacular hinder your ability to appreciate the gentle, yet equally sublime.

A Speed Date is Not a Job Interview

A lot of us fall into the trap of quizzing each other on dates. I’ve certainly done it. But remember that if you ask someone about their 10-year plan, investment portfolio, and why they aren’t married on the first date, they may not request another date with you.

Observe Character

Simply put: If the other party has your number and isn’t calling you, or replying your calls, do not chase them. Learn how to deal with rejection early. Often times, you have not actually been rejected, other factors may be at play, do not internalise it or dwell there.

Do not be afraid, we are all looking for a connection.

I am not suggesting that you overshare on your first date, but vulnerability and being yourself is so crucial. Men and women alike desire emotional intimacy; it is phenomenal when you can be loved for who you are. The feedback from a lot of participants was clear and simple: “I like a someone who can be themselves, no false pretenses”.

Playing ‘hard to get’ is a tricky game

Beware of playing hard to get, especially when you want to talk to the person again. If you know you want to talk to someone again, simply let them know. ‘Pursuit fatigue’ is a real thing.

So there they are, the top tips collated from over 30 post virtual date surveys and match requests. What do you think? Are you open to virtual dating? Has it been easy finding love during this pandemic? Are there any virtual-dating tips you have?