The first date is so exciting: hair smoothed down, skin glowing, big smiles as both sides see each other and settle down… before the laptop. Sadly, that’s what it’s come to, in lockdown. Video rendezvous, virtual romances, and endless social distancing.
It’s still better than sitting at home alone, fretting. And so online dating platforms like Tinder and OkCupid are seeing increased user activity. Matches and conversations have seen a jump, and the length of the average conversation has grown.
As part of her virtual dates, one 29-year-old from Bengaluru has watched Money Heist with one person, played Scrabble and chess with another, and begun to use the app Houseparty so she and her dates can play games.
“It’s not the same, of course,’ she says. “I miss the silences that are so much a part of real-world companionship. Here there is pressure to always say something.” The young woman had been virtually dating someone for a while, and the two had planed to meet when the coronavirus stalled their plans.
“I still like him and talk to him, but I’ve started interacting with others online too, because I don’t want to get too attached without meeting,” she says.
Simran Mangharam, dating coach and founder of Floh.in, an offline community for singles, says this is actually a good policy. “You don’t want to get into a synthetic relationship with someone you have not met in real life. It’s especially easy to get carried away when your connection with the real world is so restricted, but you cannot be in love with or in a committed relationship with someone you have never met,” she says.
Instead, Mangharam recommends using this time to keep in touch with the people you feel you have a great connection with, so you can meet in real life once the lockdown is over.
‘Don’t get into a synthetic relation-ship with someone you haven’t met. It’s especially easy to get carried away when you’re isolated’:?An app user from Bengaluru
Special times call for special measures, and as the hours open up before you, here are some things to remember when you’re on a virtual dating platform.
Use this time to introspect: Try and understand yourself better, says relationship counsellor Nisha Khanna. “Once you can go on real dates again, aim to have a clearer idea of what you’re looking for, and what you definitely don’t want.”
Watch for signs that you’re becoming a stalker: Just because you’re spending more time online, Mangharam warns, doesn’t mean the usual rules don’t apply. Don’t repeatedly ping a person; don’t reach out on more than one social media platform.
Be kind: Everyone is feeling the strain; some have loved ones who are ill. So don’t be flippant, Mangharam says. “Some people are feeling extra sensitive, so be positive, gentle, kind. These are also attractive qualities at any time, in a relationship.”
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