The need for intimacy is among the few things that still occupy people’s minds amid the pandemic. All around the world people are seeking solutions to be together amid quarantining, and dating applications offer ways to find new romances.
Bogor resident Dilla, 23, was not looking for a boyfriend when she signed up for a new Bumble account in June.
“I wanted to look for a pen pal who would be up for conversation via email because I was bored,” Dilla told The Jakarta Post in early December.
Dilla said she set her search to the farthest location as she was unsure she would meet her matches in person due to the pandemic.
“I only put one photo on my profile and my bio said that I was searching for a pen pal only. With very little information on my behalf, the people who really wanted to be my pen pals would be filtered,” she said. She also used an alias and set up a new email address for fear of her personal information being misused by her matches if they turned out to be insincere.
When she matched with a person, she texted him the email address to shift the conversation from the dating app. She made sure she didn’t share any of her social media accounts to keep the conversation exclusively through email. To her surprise, she met someone that kept up with her email-only rule, one who was even eager to write her intensely every day.
“We really just wrote emails to each other for one month, every day. They range from two paragraphs to six to seven each day.”
When conversation became more exciting, after a month Dilla decided to talk with her match through video call.
“We ended up chatting and singing online karaoke for seven hours!” Dilla said. “Afterward, we decided to upgrade from email to a chat platform and then decided to meet in person.”
In August, the two became a couple.
“Of course I was a bit scared because I found this guy on the internet but as it turned out this is the healthiest relationship I’ve ever been in,” she said. The key, Dilla said, was communicating clearly and not to play mind games.
People craving intimacy while being in quarantine are also looking for creative gimmicks to meet new people on dating apps, which adds spice to interactions.
In its yearly recap, popular dating app Tinder said Indonesian users, especially but not limited to Gen Z, had become more creative in finding ways to socialize amid the pandemic, such as meeting virtually in the popular game Animal Crossing.
“When faced with new challenges like what happened this year, they are quick to adapt and become more creative in their socializing pattern using Tinder,” Tinder wrote in a statement.
The app claimed that the use of chat features and the number of swipes in the third quarter of 2020 had increased significantly compared to February.
The recap reveals that the use of Tinder peaked on April 12. Users actively met with people from around the world through its Passport feature, which allows them to find matches from other countries such as South Korea, Japan and Singapore.
According to the recap, the use of words such as “mask”, “work from home” and “wash your hands” increased significantly in the users’ bio. More fun-related words such as “cycling”, “TikTok”, “Animal Crossing” and “Among Us” also increased.
Finding love during the pandemic is challenging but also very rewarding, Gibran (not his real name), a 29-year-old tech company employee in West Java’s Depok, attests.
He matched with his current girlfriend, Selvi, (also not her real name), on a dating app in July and they began a committed relationship in September.
“I was at rock bottom earlier this year: I broke up with my then-girlfriend, my mother died, I had to take care of my mother’s unfinished business and on top of it all I was paranoid about the coronavirus,” he told the Post.
Gibran has used dating apps since 2013 to find girlfriends, sex partners or drinking pals, but since March his purpose was only to find someone new to talk to so he could distract his mind from wandering to dark places. Due to his pandemic fears, he braved himself to meet only one girl from the app.
“And now she’s my girlfriend!” he said happily.
Gibran and Selvi bonded over their love for food. Selvi owns a rice box business in South Jakarta while Gibran is a culinary enthusiast.
“I fell madly in love with her after I took her on a culinary trip to BSD [in Tangerang]. It was my first date since the pandemic, a new normal kind of date. We went out from the morning, ate our way through Alam Sutera to BSD, visited the BSD city park and had fun seeing locals catching fish using rifles!” he said with a laugh.
“In the evening, I parked the car on an empty road to eat burgers. Turned out she ate burgers just like I did, she slipped the fries between the patty and the bun,” Gibran said, his eyes shone in the glow of his happy memories. “I went home that night with butterflies in my tummy. I realized that it was the first time I had felt happy after months of constant bad luck. She reminded me of what it was like to be happy.”
The deadly plague did not stop Iteung (not her real name), a 27-year-old graphic designer in Kemanggisan, West Jakarta, from finding sex partners.
“I’ve used dating apps since 2015 exclusively for finding hook ups, not romantic partners,” she said. At the height of the pandemic, she threw herself back into the dating pool after breaking up with her then-boyfriend and started actively meeting people after the first imposition of large-scale social restrictions (PSBB).
“I’ve met around six people so far and I felt like it was still safe because my activity was only limited to the house and with the people I hooked up with,” she said.
To avoid meeting dubious people, she would do a thorough background check by asking around or Google the person.
“Even so, sometimes I’d just tell those who I did not vibe with to go home even if they were already at my place,” she said. “I also tell them to wash their hands first upon arriving. This has been my rule even before the pandemic.” (wng)
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