Already feeling a bit out of my depth with this new mode of connection, I decided to go on a date with someone I had already met in the physical world, rather than go all in with a cyberspace stranger. I figured that dates can be awkward enough; add in the fact that we'll both be connecting via headset rather than over beers with a scant few inches between us, and this route simply felt more comfortable to me.
But it's worth pointing out, I certainly could have taken to the apps to find my date. Tinder, Match, and Bumble all have a metaverse presence, along with newer, made-for-virtual-reality apps, like Flirtual and Nevermet.
As for me and my date, we ended up playing Walkabout Mini Golf on the Meta Quest 2 and, honestly, it was a lot of fun—even though it didn’t exactly start that way. Keep reading to learn three of my takeaways from this meta-dating experience.
My top 3 takeaways from my experience of dating in the metaverse
1. I felt weird about dating in the metaverse initially—but then I changed my mind
I'll be honest: I aimed to go into my metaverse date with an open mind and heart, but in execution, I simply assumed it would be awkward. I mean, it was new and uncharted territory for me. I didn’t know how it’d be, and the uncertainty made me feel a bit anxious—even though I knew my date.
“To me, the metaverse is simply another platform for people to connect with one another across the world.” — Omar Ruiz, LMFT
But, licensed marriage and family therapist Omar Ruiz, LMFT, likens the experience to being not much different than using dating apps. “To me, the metaverse is simply another platform for people to connect with one another across the world,” says Ruiz. “The idea of connecting with others…through the use of an online platform existed prior to the metaverse.”
And since using those apps is a normalized part of dating these days (for me, at least), Ruiz's point actually helped me ease my feelings of anxiety. Once I got past my preconceived notions of awkwardness, my date and I were able to have equal parts banter and getting-to-know-each-other conversations. Because the Meta Quest 2 allows you to see someone’s avatar and hear their real voice, it gave me the sense that I was on an actual date.
2. Dating in the metaverse certainly has pros and cons
According to Ruiz, a benefit of dating in the metaverse is the ability to build stronger bonds with people with whom you may not be able to see on a regular basis.
But, the benefits aren't limited to just those with whom you might not be able to otherwise connect in person due to distance barriers. After all, we have phones, video-conferencing capabilities, and all kinds of tools to minimize the effects of distance. With that in mind, certified sex therapist Jacqueline Mendez, LMFT, adds that a benefit of dating in the metaverse is that “it allows you to connect and have a shared experience with someone" that's decidedly unique.
A potential pro and con of dating in the metaverse, adds Ruiz, is that you can leave the date whenever you want. “If you do not like how the date is going, you can quickly leave by simply taking off your VR goggles and turning them off,” he says. This is good because no one should ever feel trapped in a situation where they don't feel comfortable, but it’s also a potential con because it could give way to the metaverse’s version of ghosting: vanishing.
The main con that I noticed from dating in the metaverse is that there’s no physical component—like, at all. And because my date is someone that I care about, I found myself wanting to hug them or to make any type of physical touch with them. Dating in the metaverse doesn’t allow for that. As for my biggest pro of the experience? I didn’t have to get dolled up or actually go anywhere, since I went the date from my apartment and showed up using an avatar of myself.
3. After a few minutes, I actually felt like I was on a real date
Even though I couldn’t hug my date, regardless of how much I wanted to, it eventually felt like we were actually on a mini-golf date. Walkabout Mini Golf allows you to hear and see the other player in real-time (well, their avatar, anyway), which makes it feel like more of an experience.
“When we genuinely have a good time with someone, our hormones, brains, and neurotransmitters don't know the difference,” says Mendez. “Whether it's happening in real life or via the meta universe, your brain just knows you had the experience. So if it was a positive experience, regardless of how you had it, it's going to feel good.”
And good it did feel. Being able to playfully make fun of my date (because I beat them at mini golf, thank you very much) and have them snappily retort back made dating in the metaverse feel similar to what a real-life date would be like. In fact, my date and I had so much fun playing mini golf, that two days after our first date, we agreed to “meet” again for another round (i.e., a second date).
Ultimately, as long as you’re staying safe and having fun, I’d definitely recommend dating in the metaverse.
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