10 Webcam Chat Do’s And Don’ts

If you’re in a long-distance relationship or want to screen dates before meeting in person, webcam chats are an excellent option. Here are 10 things to consider before you log on and yell, “action!”

By Dave Singleton

s what you see what you get? Sometimes, but not always — that’s the big picture when it comes to communicating via video chat. True, it’s an increasingly common way to both screen new dates and communicate with existing partners, but there are both pros and cons to this new tool in your dating arsenal.

On the positive side, video chat gives conversations a personal touch
The camera will show you what he or she looks like.
that’s distinctly more real and connecting than other technology options currently available, such as cell phones, email and texting. But there are also distinct challenges you don’t face with those other methods. So before you log on, yell “action!” and start filming your own personal romantic comedy, consider my list of 10 do’s and don’ts below.

1. DO use webcam chats to screen new dates.
Of course, it’s always smart to have a few phone conversations with potential dates before you agree to meet them in person. Even better, why not chat via webcam before you meet face-to-face? One advantage of using this method is that you won’t have to wonder if that sexy, eye-catching photo of your date is from 20 years ago; the camera will show you what he or she looks like (and sounds like, too). And webcam chats are a great way to screen potential dates in vacation locales or prior to moving to a new area.

2. DO make sure you set the stage, so to speak.
The days of chatting with your date while sitting on the couch, hair in curlers and an avocado mask slathered on your face (or in your boxers as you rifle through the fridge for dinner) are over once you’ve got a webcam. Things you don’t have to consider while you’re talking on the phone — such as setting and image — count when you’re both visible, so make sure you’re comfortable with lighting, location and how you look before signing on. You can check how you look through the webcam first and adjust lighting, background and the camera angle to create the most flattering setting. Only you can control what can be seen by the person you’re chatting with, so lean in to offer a sexy close-up of your face, or lean further back for a better view of your entire body.

3. DO set aside uninterrupted time for chatting.
With a phone call or IM in progress, you can multitask without your date noticing and, most likely, feeling irritated by your perceived lack of attention. Not so with webcams! If you’re fiddling with something, checking your PDA, or in any way focusing on something other than the screen and the other person, it’s as bad as sitting across the dinner table from someone who’s already checked out.

4. DO use the Internet to help you both have fun and stay engaged during webcam dates.
If you are sitting across from someone in person, you can enjoy sharing a magazine article or funny video with each other. Not so with webcam chat. But though your virtual date can’t offer the same accessibility as a physical date would, you can still use the Internet to share links to videos, pictures, songs and documents online. What a great, high-tech way to discover each other’s interests!

5. DO consider webcam dates if you’re going to be separated for long periods of time.
For example, if one of you gets a work assignment that puts you out of town
Make specific dates to log in so you’re both prepared.
for weeks or months, webcam chats give you a way to feel more connected than you would through phone conversations, where you can’t see each other’s facial expressions or body language. Experts say that up to 80 percent of all communication is nonverbal, so adding video enhances your ability to stay truly connected.

6. DON’T turn your webcam on unless it’s reciprocal.
Exercise caution if a dating prospect wants to you to appear on camera but won’t do the same, especially if you don’t know the other person very well. Both of you should be using your cameras to communicate; it’ not fair for you to broadcast yourself without your date reciprocating, regardless of any excuses given (he or she doesn’t have one or can’t get it to work, for example).

7. DON’T expect to have a video chat on the fly.
Make specific dates to log in so you’re both prepared. Spontaneity is great with a text or call; you can quickly contact your date to check in or convey information fast. But for many reasons — from wanting to be in the right mood to making sure you look your best and setting the right ambience — webcam dates are best when they’re planned.

8. DON’T engage in the video version of TMI.
You might be more likely to reveal information you’re not ready to divulge just yet since the connection is visual and happing in real time. Not only is this a common-sense suggestion for those who are newly dating, but also it’s a safety issue for those who are screening a prospect using this method.

9. DON’T show your chat partner anything you wouldn’t want to see shared in videos or photos later on.
If you think “sexting” is dangerous, think about the lure of getting an intimate peek at each other’s assets during a webcam chat. Be aware of the fact that your date can capture screen grabs of you at any time, possibly in compromising positions, and save them for posterity. Just like you shouldn’t send anything in an email you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of the New York Times, don’t show your date anything you wouldn’t want to see there, either.

10. DON’T get carried away and project romantic fantasies onto your webcam date.
After a few sessions, you may think you’re madly in love with the man or woman in your video screen, but that’s just an attractive vision to whet your appetite until you get to know each other in person. Nothing takes the place of time spent together face-to-face to find out if you’re truly a couple that’s meant to be.

When it comes to using webcam chats for dating, hopefully, what you see will be what you get. Live chats won’t ever take the place of in-person dates for assessing your romantic chemistry, but it’s still a worthy tool when used wisely. Think of it this way: if a picture’s worth a thousand words, surely a webcam chat’s worth at least 10,000!

Dave Singleton, an award-winning writer and columnist for since 2003, is the author of two books on dating and relationships. Send your dating questions and comments to him at
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