Dating in the time of pandemic
Do I swipe left or right? What’s taking them so long to reply? Am I blocked? If you have ever set your foot in the world of online dating, these questions might sound familiar. Amid the pandemic, many resorted to virtual dating. While it made meeting new people easy, it also took a toll on the mental health of many. On World Mental Health Day (October 10), we see how things have changed.
Vaishali Kamra, 23, a finance analyst from Gurugram, says, “I’ve always enjoyed meeting new people and the easiest way was through apps. But since the pandemic, I started feeling this sense of emptiness. It was difficult initially for me to move to video calls. But being more open with the date made me feel better.”
Experts also believe that the pandemic has impacted how GenZ navigates dating. Sonali Gupta, clinical psychologist, says, “Early into the pandemic and even now to some extent, there has been a huge feeling of loss, loneliness and an inability to connect and build shared experiences with other young like-minded people. The pandemic took away possibilities of spontaneous interactions and all possibilities of chance interactions.”
Moreover, according to a recent report by Tinder, mentions of ‘anxiety’ and ‘normalize’ grew by 31% and 15x, respectively. The word ‘boundaries’ is being used more than ever, and the term ‘consent’ rose by 21%.
With GenZ becoming open in discussions about mental health, some feel that online dating has changed for the better. Shantanu Upadhaya, an MBA student from Delhi says, “I matched with a girl just before the second wave. But then I lost a family member. I wasn’t available for a few days but she kept checking on me. Cut to now, we’re dating!”
However, Gupta also points that one needs to be ready to face rejection as developing personal connection and trust takes time. She adds, “I hear a lot of GenZ have open conversations about boundaries and even setting up intent and context before they meet for the first date. Rejection is part of dating, whether you meet someone virtually or in real life. So, learning to date with kindness, compassion and building healthy communication, where you choose to let the other person know that you wouldn’t want to interact further or pause is very crucial to building an ecosystem where everyone feels respected.”