With social distancing orders in place and bars and restaurants closed, the dating world has been turned upside down. How are local singles adjusting to a new normal for dating?

While some are turning to virtual dating shows, others are relying more on dating websites and apps.

We’ll sit down with local dating experts to find out how to look for love date while staying safely at home.

Produced by Kayla Hewitt


  • Sali Hama Chief marketing officer, Carpe DM
  • Michelle Jacoby Owner, DC Matchmaking; @DCMatchmaking


  • 12:00:04

    KOJO NNAMDIYou're tuned in to The Kojo Nnamdi Show on WAMU 88.5. I'm broadcasting from home. So welcome. Later in the broadcast we all seem to be cooking more at home these days. We'll hear from the hosts of Dish City and a local culinary luminary about how to make the most of your pantry cooking days, and a brief look into how the pandemic is affecting The Capital Area food bank.

  • 12:00:27

    KOJO NNAMDIBut first from virtual dating shows to Zoom dates local singles are finding new ways to make connections even as social distancing measures shut down bars and restaurants across the region. So what is happening in the virtual dating scene and is it possible to find love during a pandemic? What do you think? Joining me now is Sali Hama, Chief Marketing officer at Carpe DM. Sali, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:00:54

    SALI HAMAThank you so much, Kojo.

  • 12:00:56

    NNAMDIAlso joining us is Michelle Jacoby, the Owner of DC Matchmaking. Michelle, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:01:01

    MICHELLE JACOBYI'm so happy to be here. Thank you.

  • 12:01:03

    NNAMDISali, I'll start with you. What is Carpe DM and how does it work?

  • 12:01:08

    HAMAYes. I'm so excited to talk about Carpe DM. It's actually a D.C. based startup. It's a video based dating app. So unlike your traditional dating apps that are on the market right now, we determine chemistry based on a video. So as soon as matches, you know, make a connection then they host a video chat to gauge chemistry, make sure they're not being catfish, you know, there's no dead end texting. So we're really happy to see video taking a front seat in dating right now. You know, Carpe DM has been on the market for a little over a year. So we're happy for our singles. We're happy for people to have an option to video date during quarantine.

  • 12:01:50

    NNAMDIWhat inspired your team to turn Carpe DM into the virtual dating show "Love Cast"?

  • 12:01:56

    HAMASo at Carpe DM we actually host a lot of singles events in the D.C. area. And, you know, we have a really large following. People love to come to the events, make connections. When COVID happened, you know, we had to think about how do we still cater to our singles and the best way for us to do that is through a virtual experience. "Love Cast" is an interactive virtual dating experience where the audience pairs the couples and we all get to watch their first date together.

  • 12:02:28

    HAMAIt's essentially based on Carpe DM's dating process, but we just wanted to bring it live to singles in front of a virtual audience. And it's been a really great experience for us because we're had singles from all over the DMV, New York City. You know, we've been getting applications now from all over the country for singles, who are just really looking to make connection. You know, singles are -- they should be hopeful in the time of dating.

  • 12:02:57

    HAMAYou know, now is the time to get back to slow courtship. And for us, we're happy to see that people are really taking the time and putting in effort in dating. You know, in the world of dating apps the hookup culture is definitely prevalent. But with COVID singles had really have to think about how to still date, but not necessarily hookup.

  • 12:03:20

    HAMASo we're happy to see, you know, courtship coming back. You know, 10 years ago phone calls were everything, right, you know.

  • 12:03:26


  • 12:03:27

    HAMAYou would talk to your date all night long. You would essentially get know somebody through their voice. And now we're happy to see people getting to know each other through, you know, through the video experience.

  • 12:03:40

    NNAMDIMichelle Jacoby, you're been a matchmaker in this area for 11 years. How do you help local singles find love?

  • 12:03:47

    JACOBYWell, we're a traditional matchmaking company, a small boutique company. And I work with a small number of clients. And we're used to interviewing people in person and then matching them in person. So we've really had to pivot right now and make the experience for our clients a positive one. And we're actually seeing really good things right now.

  • 12:04:07

    NNAMDIHas the pandemic changed how you help your clients find love?

  • 12:04:12

    JACOBYYeah, well, you know, a few of our clients decided to go on hold because they didn't want to date online. But many of my clients right now are going on video dates. And I'm interviewing matches for them by video. And I'm finding it actually really nice, because people are at home and people are available and really excited to talk. And I have clients who are in relationships now. I had a client become exclusive with someone she has been dating via Zoom just yesterday. And we're going to be talking after the show so I can congratulate her. So, you know, my new motto is where there is a will there is a way. And I don't think that you have to stop dating right now. You just have to do it differently.

  • 12:04:57

    NNAMDISali Hama, some may say that dating is a frivolous venture under the current circumstances. How would you respond to them?

  • 12:05:04

    HAMAI would actually have to disagree. You know, like I said earlier now is the time to really think about what you want in a partner and resort back to slow courtship and slow dating. You know, essentially the best way to find a partner is to really get to know them slowly, right? You want to get to have those meaningful conversations. You want to have the kinds of conversations you wouldn't necessarily have over a dating app or over text messaging. So I think this is the perfect time to date, because you're really getting to know who you are and what you want out of a relationship outside of, you know, like I said earlier, the hookup culture.

  • 12:05:43

    NNAMDIMichelle, not only are you a matchmaker, but you are also a dating coach. How do you coach someone to be better at dating and have your tactics changed due to the pandemic?

  • 12:05:54

    JACOBYGreat question. Thank you. My tactics have changed in terms of just adding in coaching about how to have a great video date. I cover every aspect of dating, everything from how to have strong boundaries, how to decide what your deal breakers are versus your preferences. I work with woman so we're talking about how do men think and how do men date. And when should you be physical? And when should you be exclusive? And what does that mean? And how to spot red flags? So none of that has changed. But the part that has changed is really how to navigate online dating right now.

  • 12:06:27

    JACOBYAnd I'm finding that it's actually easier to setup dates, because you just suggest a Zoom date. Although some of my clients are preferring a phone call before a Zoom date. But Zoom dating has become the date right now. And, you know, people are open hearted and people are receptive and excited to connect. And it's a positive thing right now to be able to connect with a new person.

  • 12:06:52

    JACOBYI have some clients who are doing -- a have a client who's going on a date tonight and they're doing a costume date. People are being creative and having fun. So it is a good time to date. User ship on the online site is up about 20 percent I hear. So I encourage everyone to consider dating right now. It's a good time to put yourself out there.

  • 12:07:13

    NNAMDIMichelle, what tips do you have for singles going on virtual dates?

  • 12:07:17

    JACOBYI would say first and foremost make sure you are in an area in your home that looks good. I've had some mock video dates with some clients and made them clean up their apartments or clean up their kitchens. I had one gentleman, who had his bed in the background, and I said, you know, probably not the best idea. Make sure that there is front lighting as opposed to backlighting. So if you're sitting in front of a window nobody wants to go on a date with a silhouette.

  • 12:07:44

    JACOBYA lot of people end up on their laptops and you're kind of looking up their nose at the ceiling. Raise up your computer so that, you know, it's eye level. And find an area where you're not going to be interrupted. If you're a dating parent, you don't want kids screaming and running around. Although, I've had people introduce their dogs on dates. So most importantly just be yourself and as always don't talk about negative subjects. Don't harp on the pandemic and talk about your past relationships and things that you wouldn't want to talk about on a regular date.

  • 12:08:19

    JACOBYJust keep it positive and share yourself and be open.

  • 12:08:22

    NNAMDISali, for those who have not seen the program, the broadcast, which I've seen on YouTube, what is the format on "Love Cast"? How does it work?

  • 12:08:32

    HAMASure. So, you know, "Love Cast" is designed to be a positive interactive social experience. So on each episode we bring in 10 singles. And we actually have the audience pair the singles. So we open up the voting for about 24 hours after we announce the singles for the audience to pair the couples. We think that's a great way to involve the audience so that they're not just watching the show. They can actually interact, comment, you know, ask the cast questions. You know, and on the live show itself, which is on YouTube live we bring in a host. We've had some terrific hosts so far. And we have a really exciting host for episode three, which airs on May 17th. We'll be announcing that this week.

  • 12:09:18

    NNAMDIYou mean, you're not announcing it today here, now?

  • 12:09:20

    HAMAI wish I could. We just got the contract signed. We're very very excited for this host.

  • 12:09:27


  • 12:09:28

    HAMANext time I'll make the big announcement, but, yeah, so we show about five minutes of each date. You know, we ask these couples to go on 15 minute video dates. But we've had some couples go on like two and a half hour dates.

  • 12:09:42


  • 12:09:43

    HAMAWhich is quite long. So we've had to pair those down, which is really great to know that these couples are really enjoying themselves. But, yes, we show about five minutes of each date. We bring the cast on live to get interviewed by the host.

  • 12:09:56

    NNAMDIMichelle Jacoby, are there in your view any advantages to virtual dating?

  • 12:10:01

    JACOBYYes. Actually yes. People are available. They're at home. People are wanting to connect and you don't have to worry about who pays. You don't have to worry about the good night kiss. You don't have to worry about physicality. I think there's a real focus on connecting and creating a friendship and an emotion intimacy whereas in the past in regular dating you're worrying about those things.

  • 12:10:33

    JACOBYSo I'm hearing from my clients who are dating this way that it's a nice slow. I like the way, you know, that term slow courtship it's true. It's slowed things down, and people are interacting in a really personal face to face way without worrying about, you know, how quickly am I going to get, you know, to this stage or that stage, because right now we're sort of all in limbo. And I think we're more in moment with the person on the other side of the computer really getting to know who he or she is. And just enjoying being in the moment as opposed to, you know, worrying about some of the things we worry about with regular dating.

  • 12:11:13

    NNAMDIMichelle, you also host virtual dating boot camps for local single women. How do you help them improve their dating skills?

  • 12:11:21

    JACOBYI love my boot camps. I just finished one last night. I had 10 women for three weeks. And I taught them just every aspect of dating. The same things I teach in my one on one coaching, I taught them as a group. And we got on Zoom two nights a week together for three weeks. And we had conversations. And I taught them and they asked me questions. You know, we covered everything. We covered how to not waste time on the wrong person. We covered how to make a great impression. How to flirt, how to date online with very specific strategies that are very effective.

  • 12:11:54

    JACOBYAnd I mean, we even did online dating photos where I had the ladies taking photos. And we're posting. We have a Facebook group for all of us. So we've been posting pictures in there. And I've been critiquing the outfits, every single detail that we would do in person.

  • 12:12:08

    NNAMDIThe dating boot camp. I'm afraid we're going to have to talk -- take a short break and then we'll return to this conversation. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

  • 12:12:35

    NNAMDIWelcome back, we're talking about dating at a distance with Michelle Jacoby, the Owner of DC Matchmaking and Sali Hama, the Chief marketing officer at Carpe DM. Sali, "Love Cast" is not only helping singles find love. How are you helping to raise money for organizations fighting the effects of the Coronavirus?

  • 12:12:54

    HAMAThat's a great question, Kojo. So we wanted to make sure that we're still, you know, we're still aware of the bigger culture outside of "Love Cast." So we like to partner with local organizations for each episode. You know, for episode one we partnered with Hook All Helps, who is helping service industry families and feeding those in need.

  • 12:13:17

    HAMAFor episode two we partnered with World Central Kitchen. For those in the D.C. area, you know, Jose Andres's organization. He's quite a personality in the area, again, feeding those in need. So we just want to make sure, you know, we're involving the audience as much as possible and trying to give back to those in need.

  • 12:13:37

    NNAMDIYou all are working on a "Love Cast" episode featuring single essential workers. Do you know when that episode is likely to be released?

  • 12:13:45

    HAMASo we're working on recruiting the essential workers. So as soon as we get 10 eligible singles then we'll put the episode on. Perhaps, you know, it could be episode four or five. So essential workers if you're looking for love, you know, please apply at lovecast.video. We'd love to have you on. We really want to really bring a fun experience. I know, you know, they're working hard. They're very stressed. And I think this would be a great experience to make a connection.

  • 12:14:14

    NNAMDISo if people do get in touch with you singles at home applying to be on "Love Cast" is casting open to everyone?

  • 12:14:22

    HAMAYes. Casting is open to everyone, singles. We hope singles apply. When we collect applications on a rolling basis. We are finalizing the cast for episode three. But we're still taking applications. So I encourage people to send in the applications. Have a little fun with the application. We ask people to send in a short video. We've had some really great fun videos. So I encourage everyone to apply.

  • 12:14:50

    NNAMDIHere's Alison in Washington D.C. Alison, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:14:54

    ALISONThank you so much and thank you for all of your many years, Kojo. So my question is it's really great to get to know each other during these times. How do people navigate the transition back to what will hopefully be more representative of regular life? So work schedule, travel, you know, being able to see friends, kind of the things that dictate, you know, how we really are as opposed to having this extra time to put into developing a connection.

  • 12:15:26

    NNAMDIInteresting question. Michelle Jacoby.

  • 12:15:30

    JACOBYSo there's sort of two pieces to that. The first one is how are people transitioning to dating someone outside of their computer. And I have some clients, who are going on distance walks and who are meeting for distance picnics. I think we're going to have to wait to see how people in general transition out of quarantine. This is something we've all never experienced before, and I don't know how that's going to go.

  • 12:15:56

    NNAMDISali Hama, "Love Cast" is a product of the Coronavirus pandemic. Will the show continue even after shelter-at-home orders are relaxed?

  • 12:16:05

    HAMAI think so. You know, we'll keep putting on the show as long as people want to watch it. People always want to make a connection. And, you know, reality shows that involved dating are quite popular. So it's a product of COVID, but I don't necessarily think the show relies on COVID.

  • 12:16:23

    NNAMDIMichelle Jacoby, are there different challenges for people dating at different ages?

  • 12:16:29

    JACOBYYeah. But every -- okay, every age has its own challenge. I think for instance, I hear from people in their 20s and 30s that -- who want to get into a serious committed relationship that some people in that age range are not ready. And sometimes I hear from women in their 50s, 60s and older that men, who are age appropriate want to date younger, which is a thing. So what I think is that if you are actively dating consistently with a smart strategy you can overcome any of these things.

  • 12:17:02

    JACOBYThere is always someone out there who's a good fit for you. You just have to put in the time and effort. I've worked with a lot of people in every age range who have found love. As a matter of fact, I'm working with a couple right now in their 70s, who are, you know, very happy together.

  • 12:17:17

    NNAMDIWhich brings me to this, because we're about to move onto another topic. But since you said in their 70s, Sarah wants to know, "Where would a retired healthcare worker in her early 70s go to find a good dating opportunity or a good dating site?" Michelle.

  • 12:17:32

    JACOBYCan I answer that one?

  • 12:17:33

    NNAMDIYes, please.

  • 12:17:34

    JACOBYYeah, yeah. So I think I like to use match.com, because it's just got wonderful features and it's got a big audience, but any of these online dating sites or, you know, even the apps. They're a great place to meet people of all ages.

  • 12:17:46

    NNAMDISali Hama is the Chief marketing officer at Carpe DM. Thank you so much for joining us.

  • 12:17:52

    HAMAThank you so much for having me.

  • 12:17:54

    NNAMDIMichelle Jacoby is the Owner of DC Matchmaking. Michelle, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:17:58

    JACOBYThank you very much.

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