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Psychologist Emma Kenny reveals the eight things you can do to knock a first online date out of the park

By Virgin TV Edit

In the swipe-tastic world of digital dating, first impressions count. From providing sparkling conversation to giving off the right physical signs, there is plenty to consider when it comes to putting forward your best self.


But instead of feeling confused about how to create a great first impression, there are certain things you can do to make a connection when you meet someone online for the first time (hint: wearing old tracksuit bottoms is not one of them).



As Virgin Media is all about building connections, we polled the nation to find out what makes the country tick when it comes to dating and love. We discovered 40% of you said lockdown has made you more interested in finding a genuine connection and settling down, while just one week is how long you’re waiting before making a relationship exclusive if you’re dating virtually. Wowsa.

Want to know more about what you can do to give yourself a great chance of impressing in a way that’s authentic and relevant to you? Help is at hand, because psychologist, TV presenter and writer Emma Kenny is here to offer some valuable pointers. Read on to discover what they are, then head to the bottom of the page to watch writer and broadcaster Alix Fox put them to the test on rugby star and Celebrity X Factor contestant Levi Davis.


Preparation is key

“Make sure you’ve thought about the bio of that person if you’ve met them on a dating site, because then you can get some insight into the kind of things they like. You can create a list of questions which are really helpful.”


Present yourself properly

“Make sure your house is clean, even if that means just throwing a load of stuff to the side so that it looks good. Also, think about what you would wear on a real date. Wear something that says you’ve made an effort.”



“Smiles are everything. If you smile, you instantly make the other person see your best features. It makes the other person feel like there’s a connection there. People are better looking when they smile. Also, eye contact is a really powerful connector. But what you want to be careful of is just constantly looking at the other person in the eyes. That makes people feel uncomfortable. Allow yourself to look away from time to time.”


Do something collaborative

“Think about something creative. Some people make a meal together online, or they might do a puzzle. That way you can connect really well.”


Attend to the listening

“If you ask them a question, make sure you really listen to their answer. Active listening is when you hear every word instead of thinking about what you’re going to say next.”


Don’t get carried away

“Impressions can give you a basic introduction to your instinct. It might be that you’re fully attracted to the way somebody looks. On one level that’s good, but on another you’ve got to remember that isn’t enough to have a relationship.  You need so much more. The first 30 seconds are key.”


Ask open questions

“The questions you ask will be important. What is it they enjoy doing in their spare time? Do they have any strong views that you could relate to? When it comes down to the questions, I would ask open questions – anything that doesn’t give a yes or no answer. That allows them to amplify their nature.”


Be active

“If you haven’t done any prep and then you expect them to do the work by talking to you, you might fall short. If you don’t make any effort at all, that’s poor dating etiquette. Other common pitfalls are not taking it seriously and not being in a mood you know is your best self. You can always rearrange – it’s not the end of the world.”


Lessons in love

Writer and broadcaster Alix Fox recently sat down with Emma Kenny to discuss how to make a great first impression in the world of online dating. She then put what she learned to the test on rugby star and Celebrity X Factor contestant Levi Davis. Find out what happened by watching the video below...



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Interviews: Any opinions expressed in interviews are those of the interview subject and not those of Virgin Media.