WhatsApp: #LoveinQuarantine: Dating in the time of self-isolation | #facebookdating | #tinder | #pof

From cheesy coronavirus icebreakers to exes suddenly sliding into your DMs, claiming they ‘miss you’ – dating has acquired a surrealistic undertone during the pandemic. With a majority of the global population self-quarantined at home, many singles are busy swiping away to stave off their anxiety, dread, boredom and loneliness. As a result, online dating saw a spike across the world in March, especially in cities like Italy, China and Spain, according to a new survey by Dating.com.

However, dating is no longer what it used to be. Remember when all you wanted was someone caring, charming, good-looking or witty? Well, strike all that. Today, singles want a partner who’s hygienic and a regular hand-washer, who also happens to have the skills to survive an apocalypse.
Here’s more:
Tall, dark and hygienic: The ideal mate

“Dating before coronavirus: Is he stable? Does he have a good job? Could I see myself marrying him?
Dating during coronavirus: How many packs of toilet paper can he carry at once? Could I see myself quarantined with him? Does he have post-apocalyptic warlord potential?”

– wrote @SydneyLWatson on Twitter recently, and she was only half-joking.
Many daters agree their dating choices have undergone a drastic change post the pandemic. Another important quality they are looking for in their partner? A strong hygiene game.

“I came across a profile that read, ‘I am a guy who will keep his distance and being hygienic is my only qualification’, and I swear I found that attractive enough to swipe right on him. Right now, more than how one looks, or what they wear, what matters is how they live. Cleanliness is among the top qualities I am looking for in my partner right now,” says Tisha Gosh, a 19-year-old from Pune.

Technological intimacy: The new way of getting frisky

With physical intimacy out of the picture, digital intimacy is on the rise. Even the New York City Health department deemed it medically safe in its ‘Sex And Coronavirus Disease’ guideline issued this week!

“I think, at a time when I am unable to see and touch my boyfriend in person, engaging in intimate conversations is helping us get through this phase. We are getting a little creative too! We are hoping that this is all soon over, though it’s interesting that we never had such chats earlier,” says Shilpa Kanwar from Amritsar.

The rise of courtship

RIP booty calls. Courtship, a word last heard about in Jane Austen novels, is on the rise.
With no physical meet-ups on the horizon, daters are now wooing each other via texts, phone calls and video chat – in the old fashioned ways.
“I met my blind date for the first time at a restaurant just before the calls for “social distancing”. I had hardly spent an hour with him, and wanted to know him better. Right now, social media and texting is helping us do that. We are talking to each other for hours on end, sharing our likes and dislikes, and childhood memories. It seems like a very ‘90s romance. And let me tell you, this is the first time, I have continued to chat with someone I’ve met on a dating platform, “ says Zenobia Poonawala, 26, from Mumbai.

According to dating app Tinder, as regions became more affected by the pandemic, conversations began lasting longer. “This epidemic is also changing the tenor of connection in the hardest hit places. More people are using Tinder bios to show their concern for others. For example, asking ‘how is everyone’ instead of putting their life motto,” said a spokesperson for the app.

How coronavirus is breaking the ice
“In many US cities, coronavirus has become one of the top icebreakers in messages to matches,” said the dating website OKCupid’s marketing chief Melissa Hobley.
Though the words coronavirus and “pick-up lines” should never figure in the same sentence, it is a dystopian reality in 2020. Among the most popular of these is – “If the coronavirus doesn’t take you out, can I?” Even desi daters are working coronavirus into their convos.

“So, this guy who wanted to ask me out, said, ‘Let’s isolate ourselves together from this world’, and I though it was quite smart,” says Ritika Jha, 19, from Patna.

Extra takers for Extra-marital apps too!
Extra-marital dating app Gleeden has seen longer threads in chats (2.5 times times longer than usual. In Italy, where mandatory quarantine started on March 4, the platform has seen a boom in subscriptions after the first week that has tripled in the past two weeks. In France and Spain, where the lockdown started a few days ago, the platform is witnessing a surge in subscriptions.

The app is also witnessing an increase of sudden disconnections because members are taking advantage of the “Shake To Exit” function, which allows them to disconnect immediately.

Why is your ex calling you? (Or vice versa)
There are many answers to this question – ranging from boredom, fear and loneliness, to the fact that there’s no one from their squad around to yell ‘don’t call your ex!’ at them. However, several singles are now finding their way into their past-lovers DMs, Insta and Facebook notifications, and various inboxes.

“Since I am locked in at home in this new city, feeling lonely while away from my family, I couldn’t think of anyone else to call but my ex-boyfriend. I simply dropped a ‘hi’ on WhatsApp on Tuesday, to which he replied 24 hours later, with an ‘Are you okay?’. I tried my best to not sound desperate, and ended up using coronavirus as an icebreaker, to find about his whereabouts, what he was doing and how he was spending time at home,” says Suman Sengupta, 19, from Chennai .

Mohammad Irfaan, 18, from Pune says he was “super surprised” when his ex-girlfriend swiped right on him on a dating app. “She had dumped me, and we hadn’t been in touch for the longest time. I was both tickled and curious. I instantly slid into her DMs and immediately sent a big ‘Hellllo!’ What I read next made me jump: ‘I’m missing you’. I read and reread it. And before I could say something, she said she was single, and feeling low during self-isolation, and that talking to me brought her comfort. I feel the same way.”

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