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Writer and broadcaster Alix Fox gives her top tips for finding a lasting relationship on the web

By Virgin TV Edit

If the world of digital dating feels like it’s full of fleeting interactions, we hear you. But when it comes to finding love online, there are ways to build lasting relationships.


Because 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. And while online dating has boomed over the last few months, only 17% of you prefer it to meeting someone face to face in real life!



From cracking conversation starters to presenting the best version of you, writer and broadcaster Alix Fox has loads of great tips for establishing deeper bonds when you’re out there on the web.


Watch the video below, as she talks to model Daisy Lowe and her beau Jordan about mastering online dating – then read on to discover even more handy advice…



How do you form a lasting connection through virtual dating?

“One thing that ends many potential connections before they’ve barely had a chance to get off the ground is a lack of eye contact via video. Digi-daters report that holding an electrically charged gaze is one of the best ways to gauge whether there’s chemistry during a call, yet so many people trip up here: they end up self-consciously checking themselves out on screen instead of their possible partner, anxiously spying on how their hair or face looks. It’s definitely worth practicing how best to use your “windows to the soul” while you’re using Windows! According to body language expert Adrianne Carter, nine seconds is the optimum time to hold sultry eye contact, before it becomes a staring competition!


“If you find someone who you have the hots for, don’t feel you have to play it too cool with them: a third of people say they find it really encouraging if a cyber date suggests another rendezvous before the current date has finished, and that it gives a good impression that their match isn’t afraid of lasting, loving connections. Taking the reins to arrange a date and time, and suggesting innovative themes or ideas like a virtual cocktail-making class, cooking in tandem or playing an online game all help let someone know you see them as “potentially something that could last” rather than “this is the last time you’ll hear from me!”. Successful online dating frequently requires some effort, some guts and some imagination… but these are all winning qualities in a partner.”


What are your top tips?

“Remember The Three Ps: be Punctual, Present, and Prepared for a date. Admittedly, my busy schedule and overly optimistic approach to how long any task will take me means I’m terrible at timekeeping, but I think it’s disrespectful to keep a match waiting, even if you’re both simply chilling at home.


“Make sure your manners are always ten out of ten even if your date is not The One; don’t hang up or make it obvious you’ve mentally checked out, as your date may well become a valued mate (or have a better-suited pal they can introduce you to!).


“If I know someone isn’t a suitable partner for me, I like to practice “Caspering”, aka Friendly Ghosting – a term I coined, which has now made it into a dictionary of digital etiquette! Dating often makes folks feel vulnerable, and right now many of us are extra fragile too, so whilst honesty is the best policy and clearly yet compassionately telling someone you don’t see a future avoids leading them on, try to leave a date with some positive feedback that will bolster their confidence and optimism to keep searching, even if they’re not your cuppa.”


What are key statistics regarding dating online?

“Let me hit you with some dating data! Virgin Media have just run a survey of 1,000 people and found there’s been a 36% surge in virtual dates across the UK since the pandemic began: their popularity has gone through the roof whilst we’re all stuck under ours. Over 60% of singletons say they’re enjoying getting to know people this way, and a quarter say they’ll continue to do so even when things get back to normal. This isn’t a fleeting trend, and neither are the relationships being formed from it. And 45% of folks say they’re more likely to progress to the milestone of making a relationship exclusive if they’ve been on a digi-date.”


Does the increased intensity of online relationships make people form deeper connections?

“I’ll admit that research results surprised me here: 44% of people report forming a deeper connection with someone during a router-enabled rendezvous than they would via in-the-flesh flirtations. I imagined that the absence of physical factors such as being able to hug someone, hold their hand or smell their scent might inhibit the sense of chemistry, but in other ways digital dates can actually enhance our propensity towards bonding.


“For starters, as video dates usually take place within our own homes, we’re seeing someone in their private space and inviting them to see ours. Some people also find that without entertainment to lean on, virtual dates allow for much more attentive and intense, concentrated discussions.”


Is it easier or harder to fall in love online?

“Again, stats here made me raise my eyebrows, as well as my glass in celebration, as a gal who’s looking for long-term love herself! More than two in five men and about a quarter of women state that since the pandemic began, they’re now more likely to stop dating around and instead commit to incubating their interest in just one special person once they’ve found a spark, and after a connection has kicked off, it takes an average of 22 virtual dates for a guy to declare “I love you”, compared to around 30 for women. My motto is “follow your heart, but take your brain with you”.”


What are the pros and cons of online dating?

“At a time when a lot of us are having to tighten our belts as our incomes are reduced or less stable, a major plus point is that online dates aren’t all about the Benjamins (unless you’re dating someone who’s actually called Ben!). A URL date tends to be around £18 cheaper than an IRL one.


“Virtual meet-ups are faster, too, taking up 43% less time, with no need to commute or organise babysitters. The fact they’re altogether lower stakes, with less outlay of money and minutes, means folks tend to be willing to take bigger chances: almost half of digital daters say they’re more likely to give someone who isn’t their usual type a whirl, and a quarter are more inclined to place personality over looks.


“On the flipside, whilst people tend to be more open-minded when searching for someone who makes their heart go BOOM via Zoom or shows them an ace time via Facetime, they also tend to make their minds up about whether someone floats their boat extremely quickly.  Research indicates that online daters reckon they can tell whether a match has potential within just 30 seconds of on-screen chit-chat. To many, that seems brutal and intimidating, especially if you’re new to video platforms or on the shy side…”


What is the impact of digital dating for introverts versus extroverts?

“The prospect of having to make a brilliant impression at double speed through a computer or mobile phone can give less outgoing folks a colossal dose of the collywobbles, but the good news is that just a small amount of preparation and practice can build your confidence.


“Simply checking that you have decent wi-fi is a great start, so you don’t have to deal with a connection that stutters, stammers, cuts off the punchlines of your jokes or freeze-frames you during your least attractive gawping gurn. Virgin Media are the UK’s fastest major broadband provider. If you’re nervous about how to break the ice, consider taking advantage of the visual medium and the fact you’re at home, and bring along five items from around your house that have fun anecdotes connected to them, or convey something intriguing about your tastes or personality. Invite your date to do the same, so your Show & Tell props immediately give you both a conversational crutch to lean on.


“A third of survey respondents reported that disinterested body language was a turn-off, so try to avoid sitting stock still and blank-faced, even if you do initially feel a little like a rabbit in the headlights!”


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