Is virtual speed dating the new normal due to COVID-19?
A Kamloopsian has found an unusual way for singles to continue dating, while respecting physical distancing protocols.
Renee Murakami, owner and host of Kamloops Virtual Speed Dating, has a BA in psychology and will soon be a relationship coach, but she also has dating experience.
“I had seen virtual speed dating in Vancouver which started because of the pandemic. I thought it was a great idea, pandemic or not,” Murakami tells Castanet.
Right away, she knew this would be a great idea for Kamloops singles.
Singles can join the Kamloops Virtual Speed Dating Facebook page for consistent updates to see when the next Zoom date will take place — usually every three weeks on a Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m.
If interested in joining the zoom date, singles can then visit the Eventbrite page to purchase a $20 ticket. Afterward, Murakami will email participants with the Zoom chat link and she will confirm the date and time. She has already hosted a few sessions and says the feedback has been positive.
“Participants feel that virtual dating can be more vulnerable and authentic. Personally, I felt I was able to develop an easier connection with the other person,” Murakami says. “You only have a few minutes with the person so you don’t waste time. You’re also on the date from the comfort of your own home. It takes the pressure off. Meeting someone who is inside their own home also gives an idea of who they are. Do they have a clean living space? Are there pictures of friends and family around them?”
The Zoom date begins when all participants have entered the chat room. Murakami, the host, will keep the big group of them on one screen and have an opening discussion and explanation of how the virtual date will work.
Once she is finished explaining, singles enter private one-on-one chats for seven minutes, which is when they will be told to move to the next person (similar to in-person speed dating).
After the session, if singles found someone they were interested in meeting again, they simply email Murakami. If it’s a match she’ll connect the two. The couple can then move forward for future dates on their own.
In addition to modifying dating around the pandemic, Murakami says there are many other reasons to consider virtual dating.
“The nervous energy and time spent getting ready before the date can be exhausting. People usually know within the first 15 minutes how they are feeling about someone, so this is a great way to save time in dating. It’s also not costly; no expensive dinners or travel expenses involved,” she says.
To ensure participants feel at ease, they are provided with a list of topical questions prior to the date. They are welcome to keep the questions with them while on camera.
“Virtual speed dating really gives you a window into someone else’s life without the usual added pressure of in-person dating.”