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The longer the pandemic goes on, the more normal having dates online becomes. But especially when many of us are sitting down to a screen for most of the day, sitting down to that same screen for a date just doesn’t have the same magic as getting dressed up and heading out to one of your favorite spots. While getting ready for an online date won’t bring back the carefree days before obsessive handwashing, it’s a great way to get in the right headspace for a special night in. Here’s how.

Do A Lap Before You Commit To A Location

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To start to get ready for an online date, pick an area of your home that has at minimum a power source, good Wi-Fi, adjustable layered lighting, and a stable surface for your device and a glass of something. Ideally, it should also be relaxing and comfortable for you to sit for an hour or two, private from anyone else you might live with, and representative of your taste. Consider any plans you made around the date; if you’re having dinner together, you’ll probably want to be at your table, while if you suggested a virtual wine tasting a seat outdoors or by a breezy window might create the right vibe. Avoid your bedroom unless you want to send the message that you’re open to getting sexual, or your workspace unless your options are extremely limited.

Tidy Up

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Once you’ve settled on a venue, do a quick scan of the area and clean up any trouble spots. Sure, in dim lighting and with the right camera angle she won’t be able to see the pile of laundry on the floor – but you’ll see it, and getting ready is as much about you as it is about your date. Do the laundry, do the dishes, and put everything away. Wipe down surfaces and tidy exposed cords. And while we want to believe the best of our online dates, if it’s a first or early date, make sure anything with your address or other identifying info – like mail, a hanging pet collar with tags, or a window out of which you can see a street sign – is put away or not visible in the camera frame even if you move around.

Troubleshoot Ahead Of Time

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Make technology a tool for connection instead of a barrier with some simple prep. Charge your devices – laptop or tablet, wireless headphones, vibrators – even if the batteries seem fine, update your apps, and make sure your modem isn’t overheating. If you’re using Zoom, in the menus go to Preferences > Video and check “touch up my appearance” to help mimic the effect of flattering lighting. To check your angles, open up the camera on the device you’ll be using and place it on a few sturdy books if you need to. Experiment with the lighting, opting for floor or table lamps instead of overhead. After your first online date or two, you’ll know what you like, and getting ready will be a snap.

Shower And Get Dressed

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In lockdown, no one can smell your workout... but since you would normally shower and put on clothes that make you feel your best before an in-person date, you should do the same before an online one. Like many of these tips, your date will benefit a little, but you’ll benefit a lot more. Preforming your favorite rituals to feel and look your best can help you feel confident and centered in yourself – feelings that are hard to find in the middle of a pandemic. Use your online date as an excuse to take that extra time to groom, wear that indulgent fabric, and moisturize to the nines. After being inside for months, you deserve it.

Go For A Walk

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After readying your space and self, get grounded in your body and brain by taking a short walk outside. On in-person dates, it’s easy to build anticipation, move into a dating mindset, and get excited through physically heading out to wherever you’re meeting up. That’s not possible in a pandemic, but taking a walk on your own is the next best thing – and it’ll clear your mind and flush your cheeks whether you’re heading to an exclusive spot in your living room or a romantic dinner at your own kitchen table.

Put On The Finishing Touches

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Turn on your essential oil diffuser, light that scented candle, lock the door, and pour yourself a glass of something. You’re at ease, your space looks great, and you’re dressed to feel your best. It’s date time.