Welcome to CNET’s Love Syncs, where we answer your questions about online dating. I’m Erin Carson, staff reporter, resident young-enough person, refrigerdating correspondent, curator of oddities and the one most likely to leave you on “read.”
This week, a reader wants to know what the deal is with video chatting before meeting in person. Let me fix my hair real quick and we’ll get to it.
Q: When did FaceTime before meeting become a thing? It’s weird.
A. HONESTLY? I have no idea. But yeah, sometimes people ask to video chat or hop on the phone before going out on a date.
Let me walk you through a few reasons why that might be, and why it also might not be as weird as it seems.
For one, let’s talk about the weird part. Look, anything’s weird if you think about it too much. Have you looked at a seal recently? Like really looked at it?
I’d err less on the side of it being weird so much as awkward. And awkward isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just a byproduct of two randos trying to assess each other for dating and maybe even longterm romantic partnership purposes. (See, you can make anything weird if you think about it too much!)
Setting up a call in advance of a date can serve as a safety precaution. As much as we want to assume the best of each other, there are people out there on the apps with bad intentions. The FTC even made this groovy little cartoon about what to do if someone on a dating app asks you for money. Spoiler: They’re scamming you. Hold onto your cash like the last big screen TV at a Walmart on Black Friday.
For all you know, the person you’re talking to could be a penguin with an internet connection. And, possibly, thumbs. THAT would be something.
Anyway. Bumble even rolled out in-app video calling and voice chat in June partially under the banner of safety.
A quick call could also be helpful in determining if you want to go out with a person at all. A voice like Gilbert Gottfried might be a deal breaker for you. Or not! Maybe you’re into that. Good for you. Don’t forget, though, meeting IRL can also give you the benefit of reading body language and other non-verbal cues that can tell you what you need to know about a person.
Ultimately, you’ve got to do what makes you comfortable. Don’t be afraid to ask. If someone asks you for a call, now you know what could possibly be motivating that request. But also, if you’re super queasy about giving out personal info, that is also valid. If you feel sketched out at any point for any reason, unmatch, hang up, walk away or jetpack outta there.
CNET’s Love Syncs is an advice column focusing on online dating. If you’ve got a question about finding love via app, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration.
Originally published Aug. 30.