How Lockdown Made a Woman Rediscover Herself, Be More Comfortable on Virtual Dates
In this 10-part series, we explore how Indians are embracing digital connections under the Covid19 lockdown in the absence of in-person intimacy. Here, 29-year-old Divya recounts her virtual dates, and how lockdown helped her in the process of self-discovery.
I never thought I’d be someone who installs and uses dating apps. But then my parents started looking for a guy for me, and the traditional ways of meeting guys were not working for me, plus my love life wasn’t that great. So I installed literally every dating app you can think of, from top to bottom. But when lockdown started, I instinctively deleted all of them because I thought people would be bored and would just be on them to pass the time, not look for anything more.
Ironically, by June, I was myself bored and decided to download a dating app again. In lockdown, I got bored seeing the same people again and again — flatmates, colleagues, parents, friends. It was so refreshing to take one hour out of my day and talk to a new person. Recently, all I’ve wanted is to see a new face, listen to new stories, get fresh perspectives. When you do a virtual date, you get the feeling aaj kuch toh try kiya maine, kuch toh naya kiya.
I’ve gone on five virtual dates in lockdown and I think I really love it. I met some guys who were serious about meeting people. The first dates felt like a train journey — you don’t really know them, you don’t have to disclose much about yourself and you can just get comfortable sharing stuff.
On dates, I used to always go with an open mind. You only have one or two hours, so I used to always establish who I am without any inhibitions, being brutally honest. I realize now that I could have been overwhelming. I work in sales, so I don’t like gaps between conversations, especially because I’m good at filling these gaps. Thanks to Covid, I had a lot of time to introspect. Why did I have so many first dates and not many seconds? This time I got for introspection made me realize maybe I come on too strong to guys, especially if they aren’t used to outspoken, accomplished, strong women. I realized always filling the awkward gaps meant I was talking more. I realized I had to let the awkward gaps happen. I started asking the guy more questions, even offbeat ones like “would you eat pizza forever or pasta forever?” Of course, you also figure out the green flags and the red flags, like if they don’t want the woman to work after marriage, they’re out.
I realized I had to focus more on my hobbies, my personality, than be super ruthless like it’s a job interview. And because virtual communication is not like in-person, both me and the guy became way more comfortable acknowledging that both of us were awkward. I even let the boring ones speak, I gave them the opportunity to go off. I even asked more questions to get to know them more.
And one of the biggest perks for virtual dates is I need not take a shower. I can get my own bottle of wine and drink during the date. And it’s way less uncomfortable for me because I don’t have to worry about an awkward hug or a handshake at the end of the date, or worry about who will pay the bill.
I also realized dating under lockdown had become way more about discovering myself than it was about the other person. It’s weird, right? You don’t go on a date with the intention to know yourself more. It’s to know them more. But the more I went on these dates, the more I realized I had my own filters for what I thought a good person was, what a connection looked like, and less what my parents had taught me to look for in a boy. And without the whole jhanjhat of parking, getting dressed, traveling somewhere, I got super comfortable going on these dates.
This project was done in partnership with Tinder India.