KOCHI: Dating is all about meeting new people, but in a world where social distancing is the norm, what does the future hold? With watching a movie in the theatre, or having a romantic dinner at a restaurant out of the question, are people still thinking about dating? If dating apps are to be believed, the answer is a resounding ‘yes’. Major matchmaking apps have seen an increase in the number of users during the lockdown. A spokesperson from Tinder said: “During the time of self-distancing, people are feeling a strong mix of anxiety, loneliness, and uncertainty.
But this hasn’t meant disconnecting for Tinder members. In March, as parts of the world went into lockdown, members started Passporting into other parts of the world. India saw a 25% increase in the rate of Passporting.” Shalini Singh, founder of andwemet, a matchmaking platform for singles above the age of 25 years, said, “We have seen a rise in the number of users, but unfortunately fake profiles increased too. Thanks to our elaborate signing up process which also demands an ID proof, we were able to weed them out.” OkCupid, another dating app, analysed how millions of users around the world are readjusting their dating lives in the wake of Covid-19. According to the platform, matches on OkCupid have increased by 10% worldwide since March 2020 – and conversations have increased over 20%.
Ariel Charytan, CEO of OkCupid, said, “When people can’t meet in person, they still find a way to date. In fact, there have actually been over 50 million intro messages sent across the world on OkCupid over the last month among people connecting for the first time. With restaurants, bars, gyms, offices, and entertainment establishments around the world temporarily closed, people are looking for human connection now more than ever.”
With conventional date ideas no longer feasible, are there new ways in which daters are spending time with each other? Shalini said: “In this situation where everyone is saying home, traditional date nights have been replaced by more participatory activities like cooking. One of our users told us how a guy took her through the steps of making rasgulla virtually. People are also introducing their pets to one another. In this way, people are having a direct glimpse at another person’s life.”
“There is something about the power of digital connection and shared social solidarity while facing uncertainty. Our members have found virtual ways to replicate human interactions missing from our daily lives; cooking dinner together, Passporting to other cities to check in on each other, having a virtual date night,” added the Tinder spokesperson.Now that physically meeting someone can expose a person to potential health threat, are there features that help users take an informed decision before they meet?
“We have features on the platform which enables you to know a person really well before you plan a physical meeting. One of them is our Conversation Starter questions. Through these, you can check if your interests match with that of another person before you start chatting. Some of the questions include ‘How important is it for you to have a financially stable partner?’, ‘Will relocation to another city or country be an issue if the need arises?’ and others,” said Shalini.
“OkCupid allows daters to match and get to know each other through thousands of in-app questions on everything from your thoughts on chai and pakoda on a rainy day to women working after marriage. In response to a question on the app — “How do you plan on dating during this time of Covid?”, 91% of Indian respondents said they would continue to date, albeit virtually,” said Ariel.