Felicia Smith, an expert relationship counselor, was a recent guest on my YouTube channel Nevalliance by Dr. Neva. We discussed the need for digital dating and
taking safety precautions. Here are Felicia answers to my questions.
Dr. Neva: How do you date digitally
during a pandemic?
Felicia: That is an excellent question. I do have the privilege of working with individuals. I am a licensed professional counselor. So, in my work, I get the privilege of advising or recommending individuals to date digitally but do it safely. And so, you ask, "How do we date digitally during the pandemic?" For starters, I would say for those of you who are very timid, very shy, you know, whatever faith group you subscribe to, pray about what you should do, pray about how you should present yourself, okay? So, that is the first thing I would say.
Secondly, do some googling. There are all types of digital platforms. You have chat rooms, you have apps, and you have websites. So, if you get on a website or an app, I highly recommend safety. Read profiles, practice just reading profiles. Just look at how your profile may need to read itself. But get a feel for what people are putting out there. Do you know what you are looking for? Do I recommend digital dating during the pandemic? Yes. And the reason is that Maslow's hierarchy of needs says that love and belonging are a psychological need. We need to be loved, and we need to love. We long for love by nature. So, it is not an odd thing that this time would come about where you would need to
put yourself out there if that is what you desire.
Again, we have different formats of digital dating. You have apps, dating websites, and phone chatlines. You can download an app in the convenience of your home and scroll, swipe, swipe, swipe, or scroll. Websites, they seem to be a little bit more nostalgic now because the apps are taken over. There are different types, different platforms, different preferences. So, scroll, read, and see what is out there.
Dr. Neva: You have chatrooms that still exist?
Felicia: Chatrooms still exist. You have Facebook chat. Facebook is getting into taking all the dating area because it seems to be a
pretty big area. I mean, again, at home, some country, some cities, some areas are still quarantining to some degrees. Now, you have some places that are easing restrictions and kind of relaxing and getting back to life as we knew it prior to the pandemic, but many places are still semi-quarantining. So, this has become a valuable commodity for people to sit in the luxury of their homes, get on these different platforms, and see what is out there.
Dr. Neva: Should the first date be virtual? Or do you recommend something else?
Felicia: I highly recommend that very thing. Before you even get to a point where you are communicating with the individual, read their profile, of course. Well, let us back up, pray about it, read their profile, decide if you want to move forward. Most times, you will not be able to read profiles unless you have already created a profile yourself. Once you have created your profile, be very discreet about what you choose to put out there. Do not put a lot of information that you would not otherwise want to be floating around about yourself. But just put just enough, just some general basics, you know, depending on the platform or depending on the questions, some questions are very simple, for example, "Where do you live?" that type of stuff. Be very discreet; do not put so much information out there. Just put just enough.
If you do, you can decide maybe to do a FaceTime visit first, which is, you know, like a virtual encounter. I highly recommend that first. Because ladies, as you know, it takes a lot to put 'beautiful' together. So, rather than going out in public, it is a great avenue to take advantage of the virtual opportunity. That could be FaceTime, WhatsApp, or Facebook Messenger. You have different streams and avenues where you can see the individual first, before you get in your car, mask up, put your gloves on, drive across town, or wherever.
Dr. Neva: What should I keep in mind as dating on an app?
Felicia: Safety, Safety.
Dr.Neva: Are there security things that I should think about? What would you recommend?
Felicia: I recommend safety. You know, your intuition is a sixth sense for a lot of us. We call it spiritual discernment, intuition. However, you would like to say it, that is something you should live by. When you are reading profiles, you want to be mindful to steer yourself away from being catfished or perhaps connecting with people who are not in the country or those individuals who are preying upon vulnerable individuals. Read the profile very clearly. You will notice some grammatical errors if that person is not a native English speaker. Some individuals prey on US citizens to get their US citizenship.
Look for the signs. If they tell you a long drawn out story about financial woes, you want to stay away from those things because they could be preying upon you to see if you're gullible enough to be able to send financial resources to them. Practice safety, do not share too much information about yourself. Sometimes, be very general. "Yes, I do work. I live in this particular city." You do not even have to be specific about what part of the city. So, you want to go with safety first.
Dr. Neva: You do not want to send your Cash App or send your money by Western Union. We know the games. They play games on both sides, whether male or female, play games. You do not want
to give out that information that will jeopardize you, correct?
Felicia: Correct. I would even go as far as saying that some people may not like what I am going to say. I would suggest having an alternative phone number that you can use that is downloadable. You can do a
google number or take app numbers that you can use to protect who you are. People can do searches with phone numbers, maybe consider using an alternative number to communicate with them. Some of the apps require that you use your cell phone number; it will generate an account based on your cell phone number. However, it will not provide that cell phone number in the dating app. So, you have the option if you do want to talk, you want to use an alternative phone number that is downloadable. Something like Google, a Google phone number, or any text app phone numbers works like a real phone number.
So, maybe consider that to protect yourself, not providing any financial
information, not providing your physical street address, and not allowing
somebody to come and pick you up. That is nice and very chivalrous in nature; however, it's not safe in this day and time. So, you want to be able to use some wisdom as you digitally date. Meet in a mutual place. If you do get to the place of meeting in person, go to a mutual public place. In the pandemic era, you must go with a mask to protect yourself. You do not know this individual. You do not know their COVID-19 status unless that has been exchanged and shared within three days. Other than that, yes, if you have had a COVID test within 72 hours and you both have, and you exchange results before your meeting in
person, then it will probably be safe to make some type of physical contact. Prior to that, it is not recommended.
If you are going to meet in person, meet at a public location. Recommended spots could be the part where there is a lot of other people around. Meeting across the street at a coffee house near a fire station or police station and sitting outside of the Bistro area where you are visible. These are just some safety tips that can be used, go as far, and save your life. Unfortunately, there is a dark side to digital dating. So, we want to use wisdom. We want to use some practical principles to help enhance your experience.
Dr. Neva: What are some dating rules recommended during the sad time off this pandemic?
Felicia: Safety, safety, safety, recommend number 1 safety. Pray about it. If you are a faithful believer, you should not exclude praying about how you should be led and how you should move about in
digital dating, and how much information you released to the individuals. Your safety, and just the era of pandemic safety, which includes the COVID, you know, being safe about not contracting COVID-19. Again, you do not know this person's status. So, just using those types of principles, all about safety, safety, and safety. More importantly, have fun, enjoy yourself. Dating should be a time when we are 'gathering data.' So, you can make it fun. You can make it joy enjoyable.
Watch the full interview below