The coronavirus lockdown can’t stop Indians from dating virtually

So close, yet so far.
So close, yet so far.
Image: REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade
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Amid a stringent lockdown, India has taken to online dating like fish to water.

Over 90% of the Indians on online dating platform OkCupid said they would continue dating virtually during the Covid-19 quarantine. Indeed, there has been a 26% spike in conversations on the platform and 12% in matches in the country since March, the second-highest bump globally on both fronts.

Indian millennials already had ideas for how they could convert a regular date into a digital one. Over 40%, of an average 16,000 respondents per question across India, said they were open to coming together online for meals and drinks.

Most Indian users of OkCupid also preferred text messaging over video calling, in line with global trends. “There have been over 50 million intro messages sent across the world on OkCupid over the past month among daters connecting for the first time,” said Ariel Charytan, CEO of OkCupid.

The dating platform attributes this affinity for text message conversations to a return of “slow dating.” Up to 85% of OkCupid’s global users have said it is important to develop an emotional connection with a partner before a physical one. The virtual dating system, respondents say, aids this.

It also correlates with a 20% decrease in OkCupid’s global user base looking for hookups online, and a 5% increase in the number of those looking for serious relationships.

Some Indian users have found other silver linings, including being able to wear pyjamas to a date.