Unprecedented? Once in a lifetime? A flaming-dumpster of a year? 2020 has put a kibosh on a lot of things but having to socially distance doesn't mean that we can't have a bit of virtual romance, intrigue, and a bit of craic online. 

Virtual dating is a relatively new concept, most of us probably only heard about it after the outbreak of the coronavirus, but here we are in October and now it's practically normal. However, even if you've had an ample amount of experience of real-life dating you may need a little guidance on what to expect and how to prepare for your first virtual date. 

MyIrishDate, a new dating app for Irish and Irish Americans, recently did some research to find out what's going on among the dating community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their survey found that 82.52% of those questioned have been using online platforms, like Zoom and Facebook to connect. They also found that 78.27% of people questioned would go on a video call with someone they met online. 

See there's love in the air and people eager to jump on a virtual date with you!

Where to start?! Here's our guide on how to prepare for your first virtual date with an Irish man or woman:

Find a date!

First things first! It's time to get online and find yourself a perfect Paddy or Aoife. MyIrishDate is currently offering free registration for new users. If it is an Irish man or woman you're looking for their platform is great. Their quirky fun profile question gives you all the tools you need to show off that Irish charm while searching for your perfect Irish match. 

What to expect

A virtual-date is still a date. Take it slow! Once you've found your match chat back and forth for a while before you consider a virtual date.

Perhaps even jump on a voice call to plan your virtual first date and break the ice. Speaking to someone over the phone will give you a fair idea of whether conversation will flow on the virtual date. The Irish may have the gift of the gab but dates can be awkward, let's be honest.

The rules of dating still apply even when you're online. Stay safe, don't divulge too much too fast, and most importantly have some fun. 

How to prepare

If you've geared up to see each other online make it special, as you would with any date. Yes, during the pandemic loungewear and stretchy pants have become our friends but make this an occasion. Have a shower, glam up a bit, put on a nice top! You'd expect your date to do the same right?!

MyIrishDate's research showed that 19.9% of those surveyed are "less focused on physical appearance on a video call." Really? We don't believe them! 

Get your set up organized before the call. Top tips are to keep your laptop at eye-level (no one wants to see up your nose) and check out what's in the background. You don't want an open toilet door or a dirty kitchen as your backdrop! Let's set design a little and give off a good impression.

Lastly, lighting is super important. If your date is during the day face a window to get good natural light. If it's at night make sure you've some lamps lit to give nice soft-lighting to your date.

Now you're all set! 

For your first date, why not line up something a little fun perhaps a game like "Heads Up" (an online charades game) or if you're having a few drinks what about being risque and trying "Never have I ever".

If the conversation flows and you're getting on great we've some great ideas about how to take things further...

Creative ideas for a second date

Just because we can't casually meet up for a few drinks in real life these days doesn't mean we can't spend time together.  We've some great ideas for virtual dates, how you can share each other's lives a little, and really get to know each other.

Here are our top choices for your second, third or fourth virtual date:

- Have dinner together

- Watch a concert recording

- Solve a virtual escape room

- Have a movie night

- Start a very romantic bookclub

- Take a museum tour

- Create art together

Love during a time of COVID

Now you've no excuse! It's time to find that special someone online. So relax, dive in, find your perfect Irish match, and have fun during your first virtual date.  

Your Paddy (or Aoife!) is waiting for you. Sign up to MyIrishDate today.