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Let's Talk Awkward Zoom Dates

Question: Matched with a guy on Hinge. We set up a time to chat on Zoom. Not five minutes after he shows up than he starts to get inappropriate. In my profile I say I'm a yoga teacher. He made a joke about how flexible I must be. I've heard this before so I ignored his comment. I changed the subject to ask about a trip he mentioned in his profile. The conversation took a turn for the better until he asked if I liked tantric sex. I said I didn't have any experience with it. (A lie. My ex and I had tantric sex from time to time but I wasn't going to tell him that.) What do you do in a situation like that? If we'd been on the app I would have unmatched him.

People who make sexual comments or use innuendo as an ice-breaker are either one of two things: horribly socially awkward or using the topic of sex as a litmus test.

People in the former category think sex talk is provocative. They're looking for a reaction of some kind. People in the latter category are either testing the waters to see if you're down for casual sex or if the mere mention of sex makes you freeze up, which in their mind means you're uptight.

Women really can't win in situations like this. If we play along and engage in saucy talk, we're considered slutty. If we express our discomfort, we're frigid. In reality, it's neither. In most cases, we feel threatened. As in uneasy, possibly even scared. For many women, attempts at sex talk on a first date or when we exchanges messages on a dating app is often interpreted as a guy making it clear he's looking for - and possibly expecting - sex. It makes us feel demeaned and foolish. So, guys, when you're trying to think of good first date questions, make note of that. To you, sexual banter is a form of flirting. To many women, it's dehumanizing. It's got nothing to do with our sex drive or how sexual we are and everything to do with fearing you're just looking for sex and, if so, did we do something to encourage that. There's also a concern that if you do make a move for sex and we reject you, you'll become hostile.

The woman who submitted this did exactly the right thing: she disengaged. That's what people should do when they find themselves in an awkward or uncomfortable situation while messaging with a match or on a first date. It was inevitable these stories would begin to trickle in. No method of meeting singles is perfect. Obviously, it's easier to abandon a sticky conversation when you're not face-to-face. This means we now have to get familiar with how to remove yourself from such scenarios with as little blow back as possible.

First, give the person ONE chance to rectify their choice of topics. Change the subject. If they're socially attuned, they'll see that move for what it is: a re-direct. If they're worth you're time, they'll stay far away from hot-button topics. If they don't, beware. It doesn't even have to be about sex. If they bring up religion or politics or anything known to be polarizing, they're looking for one of two things: a reaction or a fight. Also make note of someone that asks personal questions about your previous relationships, reasons for a break-up or divorce or why you're single. Anybody who thinks it's appropriate to delve into someone romantic history on the first date or video date is to be avoided. These questions are meant to put you on the spot. If they feel at ease doing that to someone they're supposed to be impressing, imagine how they'll behave once they get to know you.

If they return to the previously awkward subject that you attempted to avoid discussing, that's your cue to leave. They've just disrespected your boundaries. It's not your responsibility to teach people what's appropriate and what isn't. You owe them nothing. At that point, make an excuse about having work to do and excuse yourself. See, this is the beauty of video dating. You didn't give them your email or phone number or last name. You can end the video meeting, head over to the dating site or dating app and block them. (I wouldn't unmatch them, as that could skew your visibility on the app going forward. Plus, you definitely don't want them appearing in your searches again. )

That's it. You're done with them.

Pay close attention to your date's demeanor and tone when they are excuse themselves to leave. If they don't try to prolong the date or vamp a little, it means they want out. It's unlikely they wish to speak with or see you again. Don't try and extend the conversation if they're showing clear signs of needing to leave. Let them go. We all know - or at least we should know - when someone is trying to close a conversation. They don't ask additional questions. Their responses become clipped. Their voice trails off. Say good-bye. If they're interested in chatting again, they will let you know.

Never try to force a connection. If you feel compelled to do so, let that be a warning to that the feeling isn't mutual.

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