“Social distancing has forced many of us to slow down and allow our users to really take the time to get to know each other when online dating. Almost 70% of our Bumble community in India claims a change in their behaviour and attitude towards dating compared to before the outbreak,” said Priti Joshi, Vice President of Strategy, Bumble India.
In India, Bumble saw an increase of 38 per cent in video calls from March to May 2020 (during the week ending May 1 vs week ending March 13). Joshi said that as of the week ending May 1, nearly one in two chats has turned into something more meaningful with a large number of messages exchanged. “Many of our users have given feedback that virtual dating is allowing them to create even stronger connections during this time.”
Less Swiping, Deeper Conversations
Melissa Hobley, CMO, OkCupid believes that not meeting physically has helped millennial India rediscover the magic of courtship and taking the time to truly get to know somebody.
“Millennials are spending more time getting to know each other by having deeper conversations and forming emotional connections before meeting physically which is not advisable at this time,” she said. “85 per cent of users on OkCupid believe it’s important to develop an emotional connection before a physical one, so the switch to virtual dates has allowed these emotional connections to thrive. Date nights have become more creative and innovative by sharing activities, drinks and dinner or binge-watching your favourite show/film, all virtually before making a conscious decision to be together. ”
What does the future of online dating look like?
But will things change once people are allowed to leave their house again? Hobley believes single millennials will continue to exercise safety recommendations when meeting their chosen partner after establishing a strong bond virtually.
Joshi agrees. “As lockdown rules slowly begin to ease in India, people are getting excited about the prospect of dating in real life again, particularly those that have been virtually dating over the past couple of months. That said, there’s still a lot of nervousness about what the future holds and we’re seeing new rituals or trends emerge in the way that single people in India are learning to navigate this new world of dating. (For example) 78 per cent of single Indians feel the need to trust their match before meeting them IRL.”
“People are taking more time to talk and get to know each other on a deeper level before meeting, ensuring that they have a connection and that they are comfortable taking it to the next level. This kind of ‘slow dating’ is bringing forward conversations that may have happened over two or three dates, as people are working to figure out what they’re comfortable with, in real life and virtually,” Joshi added.
Virtual is the Way Forward
According to Rohan Mathur, Business Head, Jeevansathi.com, virtual meetups will continue to be the norm, not just for singles dating but for those looking for prospective marriage partners as well.
“There is no impact of COVID-19 in the early stages, like searching, shortlisting, etc. The biggest change happens when two people decide to meet each other,” said Rohan Mathur, Business Head, Jeevansathi.com. “At this stage, people are opting for virtual ways to connect. On our platforms, users are engaging 3 times more with our voice & video calling feature than before. Overall, there is an uptick of 60 per cent in the number of users using the video calling feature. We believe that this change is here to stay and will be the new normal.