Pandemic may have changed dating forever

Pandemic may have changed dating forever

Survey reveals 72 per cent of single Indians think it is possible to fall in love with someone online they have never met in person

Due to increased options and lack of accountability, modern dating can often lead to attachment disorders, say experts.

A nationwide survey commissioned by online dating platform Bumble and conducted by YouGov, an international market research and data analytics firm, revealed 72 per cent of single Indians surveyed think it is possible to fall in love with someone online they have never met in person.

Prior to the pandemic, romance and dating often involved a hearty dinner and a movie, a few drinks in a crowded bar, with sweet kisses stolen between conversations. However, with the pandemic, these intimate experiences have been replaced with social distancing, masks and gloves, and the paranoia of catching the deadly disease.

As a result, many have found solace in virtual dating, imply the findings of the survey, stating 45 per cent of single Indians surveyed believe virtual dating is the new ‘normal’ of dating in India.

“The whole concept of dating has changed. By swiping left and right is how you meet new people now. You’re not meeting new people at the bar and neither are you set up by your friends, like back in the day,” says Rayees Backer, wedding photographer. He says online dating had slowly become the norm even before the pandemic.

Saurabh K V, joined online dating apps last year. “I had never really given dating apps a shot before. But since there was no other way of meeting new people, I decided to try online dating. Especially as risking my life to go on an offline date was not at all an option,” he says.

Kala Balasubramanian, counselling psychologist and psychotherapist, found this was the general thinking across the society, especially among the millennial population. “We are social beings, so it was extremely natural for more and more people to venture out and try online dating. Especially right now as everything is online anyways,” she adds.

However, she advises people to be cautious while dating online right now. “Stuck at home, craving love and affection, it is easy to fall for the first person that might show you some love and affection. But that is not healthy. Right now, when there is so much uncertainty surrounding us, it is important to think through what you want and make that abundantly clear to the other person,” she adds.  

Virtual dates a hit

Bumble also revealed that 39 per cent of singles surveyed have tried a video date as their first date in 2021, and enjoyed it as it felt safer than meeting up in person with someone for the first time.

“Personally, I really enjoyed dating and meeting new people online in the last couple of months. Virtual dates, allow you to give each other undivided attention, there is no loud music or anything else to distract you. You get to know each other so much better,” says Rose G, corporate employee.

The pressure of having to meet in person being taken away made it easier for her to strike up conversations with people she says. “The fact that I didn’t have to meet any of my matches right at the moment gave me a confidence boost to be more vulnerable and get to know the other person better, in a more meaningful way,” she adds.

Irrespective of the pandemic, a video date before an offline date would be a good idea as it can help people, especially women, feel safer when agreeing to meet in person, believes Backer.

Kala adds that while virtual dates are convenient, they can often give a one-sided view of a person.

“When you’re only talking to someone on a video call, it’s hard to gauge what sort of a person they actually are. In real life, you get to know a lot more about a person by seeing how they interact with their surroundings,” she says.

But she believes efforts can be made to get a more well-rounded view of a person even through a video call. “Make the most of the video call option by having double dates or group video calls with friends. Seeing how someone is around their friends can help you get a better understanding of the person,” she adds.

Nidhi K believes it is important to put yourself out there and experience online dating firsthand before passing judgement. “I’m an old school romantic and was very apprehensive about online dating but I found my partner on there while stuck in a lockdown. Dating apps basically just fast track what was already around us and facilitate it better,” she says.

Cons of online dating

Afifa Kauser, psychologist, noticed that a common problem she saw many dealing with on dating apps was the issue of ghosting. Ghosting refers to the act of abandoning a personal relationship with someone, suddenly, without any explanation.

“While dating online, there is no clear understanding of how much accountability is expected and needed. This often leads to people ghosting without a second thought,” she says.

While the Bumble survey stated that there is a decline in negative behaviour in dating such as ghosting and catfishing, that was not the case in Bengaluru.

“Catfishers are one of the biggest problems on the app, the pandemic has not changed that,” says Backer. A ‘catfish’ is a person who pretends to be someone else online, with fake photos and a false persona. He believes that apart from catfishing, online dating also provides its users with increased options to choose from, which can often have a negative impact.

Afifa agrees, “One of the downfalls of modern dating is the possibility of more and more people developing attachment disorder.”

“Too many options, less accountability, increased traumatic experiences can lead to various complex internal problems, that can affect future relationships,” she says.