Updated: May 21, 2020 3:44:33 pm
When a recent in-app OkCupid survey asked its users how they plan on dating during this time of coronavirus, nearly 91 per cent of them, aged 25 to 35, said they would continue to virtually date as they find it a better way to connect emotionally.
The novel coronavirus has disrupted lives in ways we could never imagine, where we think twice even to step out for groceries. The concept of dating has also seen a shift with social distancing becoming the norm. When earlier two people would select a restaurant to meet, it’s now replaced by cooking the same dish ‘together’ over a video call. With the idea of ‘hooking up’ disrupted, it’s now the age of slow dating, where there is no option but to get to know each other.
A virtual trip to find love
Saubhagya Prasad, a Masters student, says: “Earlier, I used just one dating app but once the lockdown was announced, I installed two more and have been active ever since.”
It’s safe to say that dating apps have seen a spike in the number of matches and conversations taking place during the quarantine. Tinder’s recent ‘passport’ feature allows you to choose any corner of the world as your current location, so you can match with people in different parts of the world. The app states, “Social distancing doesn’t have to mean disconnecting. And that’s why we made our passport feature, which allows you to connect with anyone, anywhere in the world. Because having someone to talk to makes a world of difference.”
With conversation starters such as “How’s your quarantine going?” to “Wanna share some hand sanitiser?”, people have been on the lookout for their perfect ‘quarantine bae’. “I like how the tables have turned, there is no distraction and you can get down to knowing the person,” says Ashima, an IT professional (name changed).
Even as youngsters perfect the art of cutesy virtual date, finding a quarantine bae can be a tad bit tricky, but dating apps are up to the challenge. Bumble, for instance, has introduced a new feature called the ‘virtual dating’ badge. This is for those who prefer a zoom video call to put things into perspective. While Bumble’s mainstay feature remains letting women make the first move, the video icon appears on the top right corner of the screen and allows men to view this option once.
“The other day I matched with a guy who is in New York and he instantly texted me: ‘The CDC and WHO are recommending you stay inside, luckily for us, you cannot spell quarantine without you and I!’ Honestly, the witty reply made my day. Ever since we have been constantly talking and tonight I have a video date with him,” says Sarah Anjum, a law student.
Grow together rather than apart
Meanwhile, for couples, the quarantine has been a bittersweet experience. For Safia Chaudhary, a Masters student, “It feels like I am in a long-distance relationship.” Though she can share her day and talk about issues, she misses the physical support and contact. “That one hug at the end of the day makes a huge difference,” she adds.
However, for others, like model Sonu Singh, it’s been an enlightening time. He says, “There are so many changes that have taken place. We can’t take the risk of stepping out to meet our partners. But my relationship has become stronger. Now we can think about things for which we never had time.”
Many couples, bitten by nostalgia, try to savour their moments. Monalisa Bose, a writer (name changed), admits, “There’s a lot of longing. But at the same time, I want us both to be safe.” She adds: “Life before the quarantine was blissfully normal, we met each other after work almost every second day. Looking back, I realise we took so many moments for granted.” The couple keeps in touch virtually, speaking to “each other every morning and video calling at night”.
Manan, an engineering student, recently posted a picture with his girlfriend outside a rusty door and captioned, “Now I know why my girlfriend constantly clicked pictures because she always wanted to capture how we felt and I am so thankful to her now.” On his relationship, he confesses, “Most of our fights were because we didn’t meet enough. And if I have to stay at home to realise how I took all those little moments for granted, I will stay and learn my lesson.”
The period comes with its challenges but couples have found a way to adapt to the lockdown. “Quarantine made me realise there is so much to know about my partner even though we’ve been together for five years. We play a game where we share our most embarrassing moments and have a heart laugh,” says Ahana Ghosh, a masters student (name changed). She relates how the two refreshingly tell each other stories, her favourite pastime as a child.
Earlier, both Sharmishta and her girlfriend religiously visited their favourite coffee shop over the weekend, but now the couple makes a hot cup of coffee over a video call and plays Scrabble online. “Quarantine or not, we have made it a point to never give up on that ritual and I am so thankful to her for that,” says Sharmishta, an IT professional (name changed).
Ishan Singh, a writer, is optimistic as he comments, “We make it a point to talk every night. The distance has made us connect less on a physical and more on an emotional level. A lot of people question if they’ll survive this, but I think those who adapt their relationships can.”
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