With the entire world coming to a standstill due to the entry of the novel coronavirus, the concept of relationships have also witnessed a ‘new normal’ with the introduction of social distancing norms. All this while, two people would select a place of their choice to meet or participate in outdoor activities together. But now, it’s replaced by experimenting with different recipes ‘together’ over a video call. The trend of ‘hook up’ culture is replaced by slow dating, where getting to know each other first is a mandate now.
Quarantine Date Nights
According to Saubhagya Prasad, a Masters student: “Earlier, I used just one dating app but once the lockdown was announced, I installed two more and have been active ever since.”
Sources in The Indian Express state, dating apps have seen a surge in the number of potential matches and conversations taking place during the quarantine. Tinder’s recent ‘passport’ feature permits you to choose any corner of the world as your current location, so you can match with people in different parts of the world. The app’s new tagline indicates, “Social distancing doesn’t have to mean disconnecting. And that’s why we made our passport feature, which allows you to connect with anyone, anywhere in the world. Because having someone to talk to makes a world of difference.”
With social distancing norms, even, conversation starters have seen a change in them such as “How’s your quarantine going?” to “Wanna share some hand sanitiser?”, people have been on constant search for their perfect ‘quarantine bae’. “I like how the tables have turned, there is no distraction and you can get down to knowing the person,” says Ashima, an IT professional (name changed).
Even as youngsters perfectly model the art of cutesy virtual date, finding a quarantine bae can be a major task, but dating apps are prepared to take up the challenge. Bumble, for example, has introduced a new feature called the ‘virtual dating’ badge. This is for those who prefer a zoom video call to put things into perspective. While Bumble’s mainstay feature remains letting women make the first move, the video icon appears on the top right corner of the screen and allows men to view this option once.
Grow together rather than apart
Meanwhile, for couples, the quarantine has been a trying experience. For Safia Chaudhary, a Masters student, “It feels like I am in a long-distance relationship.” Though she can share her day and talk about issues, she misses the physical support and contact. “That one hug at the end of the day makes a huge difference,” she adds.
However, for others, like model Sonu Singh, it’s been an enlightening time. He says, “There are so many changes that have taken place. We can’t take the risk of stepping out to meet our partners. But my relationship has become stronger. Now we can think about things for which we never had time.”
Couples hit by nostalgia, are trying to cherish their moments. Monalisa Bose, a writer (name changed), admits, “There’s a lot of longing. But at the same time, I want us both to be safe.” She adds: “Life before the quarantine was blissfully normal, we met each other after work almost every second day. Looking back, I realise we took so many moments for granted.”
The couple keeps in touch virtually, speaking to “each other every morning and video calling at night”.
Manan, an engineering student, recently posted a picture with his girlfriend outside a rusty door and captioned, “Now I know why my girlfriend constantly clicked pictures because she always wanted to capture how we felt and I am so thankful to her now.” On his relationship front, he confesses, “Most of our fights were because we didn’t meet enough. And if I have to stay at home to realise how I took all those little moments for granted, I will stay and learn my lesson.”
The period comes with a new set of dating rules but couples have found a way to adapt to the lockdown. “Quarantine made me realise there is so much to know about my partner even though we’ve been together for five years. We play a game where we share our most embarrassing moments and have a heart laugh,” says Ahana Ghosh, a masters student (name changed). She relates how the two refreshingly tell each other stories, her favourite pastime as a child.
An IT professional, Sharmishta recounts how she and her girlfriend religiously they visited their favourite coffee shop over the weekend, but now the couple makes it a point to brew a hot cup of coffee over a video call and plays Scrabble online. “Quarantine or not, we have made it a point to never give up on that ritual and I am so thankful to her for that,” says Sharmishta, an IT professional (name changed).