Not All Dating Apps are Created Equal - Why Video Chatting First is the Next Evolution in Dating
We can’t side-step the awkward conversation anymore. We’ve evolved into a fast-paced, social media driven world and it’s creating a very real problem with dating and an overall lack of long-lasting fulfilling human connection. In an attempt to address this complex challenge, dating apps keep giving us more and more features and options, which has now become a mess of quick fixes and stuff on top of stuff. But none of it is truly addressing our basic human need for real connections.
Most recently, Bumble added video chat as another feature for its core “women message first” users to enjoy – a seemingly helpful update giving you a shiny new button to try out. Sounds great, right? Not necessarily. Do you text? Call? Video chat? Send photos? All of the above? The online dating process is convoluted enough, spreading its users thin and leaving them tired and confused as they try to cover all of their communication bases.
If we are going to change the online dating game, and the trauma that comes with putting yourself out there virtually, we’ve got to fundamentally change the process. The language that dating apps are currently built on is not only becoming antiquated and inefficient (raise your hand if you like swiping all day?), but also comes with a host of unintended side effects that we are beginning to recognize are not so great for your mental health and actually working against our basic human instincts.
When it comes to psychology and online dating, your mind deserves better.
Current Dating Climate
In 2019, 3D is now 2D. Real life interaction is giving weight to virtual relationships and people are curating themselves through photographs even though photos are just flat content. How many of you have someone in your dating app inbox at this very moment that you have been texting for a lot longer than you probably should be with nothing more than a semi-promised half-developed idea of meeting up in person and still, while reading this sentence, have not actually met or even seen? Why? What are we doing here?
By adding video, dating apps are acknowledging that interacting with someone in a dynamic format is way better than just relying on photos and texting to try to gauge chemistry. The problem is, however, that just by having video as an option, one micro-moment of hesitation or self-doubt as to whether you should introduce yourself meaningfully can be eased by the comforting habit of simply texting. But why is it important that you ditch the texting safety blanket? Because the authentic desire to meet and/or get to know another human is satisfied in the moment thru a text. When this process is repeated over and over, it makes us believe that we are “dating.” That we are really trying hard! When, in reality, we are exerting the least amount of effort at a chance with the other person without actually investing ourselves emotionally, mentally, and technically.
We all know texting is superficial and confusing, and it doesn’t allow for vulnerability. It’s calculated thought; no face, no human, no voice. Texting not only illogically places the responsibility on the reader to formulate an emotional voice for the sender, but it also forces us to fill in all of the gaps of information we don’t have because the other person is not there to represent themselves. At best we are often left making assumption after explanation after excuse for the feelings that we have in reaction to texts (or the lack of texts); feelings that we ourselves create.
We think things like “I wonder why he hasn’t texted me back yet? He must be busy with work.” “Did she mean that as a compliment or not? Is she mad? Did I mess it up?” These instances of uncertainty can breed feelings of insecurity and inadequacy that are quelled the second you get a text back (usually with some explanation for the delay or confusion which was unrelated to you all along), only for the emotional rollercoaster to start up again shortly thereafter. The never-ending cycle is exhausting!
For the busy individual (hello, everyone) this becomes very tiring very fast; and, we understand.
Video Introductions, Biomimicry, and Emotional Evolution
Before the digital dating era, you had to meet a romantic interest #IRL (that’s “in real life” for some of our readers – you’re welcome). A video introduction is the closest simulation of an in-person connection. While technically still digital, it mimics and offers all of the biological responses that come with meeting a person in real life for the first time from your phone - nervousness, eagerness, physical attraction, on the fly feelings, natural back and forth banter, raw uncalculated displays of personality and character, non-verbal dialogue, sense of comfortability. The list goes on and on.
Even if there is video as an option on an app, this biomimicry is severely undermined and watered down when video communication is not the first interaction but instead is forced to compete with a host of other communication methods.
Video cannot happen after the fact. Here’s why that matters.
In other dating apps, by the time you’ve agreed to a video chat, the exchange of texts and photos leading up has created a fully realized person in your head who is somewhat blurred by subconscious projections, expectations, and assumptions. I’m sure this has happened to you before, you finally meet someone you’ve been texting for weeks; someone you’ve been super excited about, and you’re almost immediately left wondering why you don’t actually like the person like you thought you would.
In his 1872 work The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, Charles Darwin outlines how our modern emotional responses can be linked to primitive survival just as much as our physical traits. When you meet someone new, whether we run or stay (like or pass) is determined in seconds by biochemical responses – somewhere in between “gut reaction” and subconscious attraction. This primal fight-or-flight instinct doesn’t exist in the realm of texting and, while online dating is not as serious as basic human survival (although some would disagree), the feeling you take away from your introductory video chat will answer the age-old question: should I stay or should I go? The best part is that it happens up front, so the animal in you can determine whether you continue the jungle hunt or meet at the watering trough for drinks.
In essence, video chatting as a means of introduction is working with your deep evolutionary desire to know you’re comfortable and compatible with the other person. That they mean you no harm and that you can be 100% your authentic self with them. Did you know when we wave hello it is to show that we are not a threat? That we literally have nothing up our sleeves, mean no harm, and come in peace. You can say so much more with a face-to-face wave than with a virtual 👋. This simple example of social evolution is one of thousands that have been adapted into modern social interaction, dating included.
Now knowing that your current dating game is connected to thousands of years of human behavior makes it easier to understand why this is something that cannot be replicated with photos and texts. So, let’s stop working against our evolution, psychology, and biology when online dating and say hello face-to-face with a video chat first. Your body, heart, and mind will take care of the rest.
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