How locking allowed a woman to rediscover herself, to be more comfortable on virtual dates


In this 10-part series, we explore how Indians are embracing digital connections as part of the Covid19 lockdown in the absence of in-person privacy. Here, Divya, 29, recounts her virtual dates and how the lockdown has helped her in the process of self-discovery.

I never thought I was 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 didn’t work for me, and my love life wasn’t that great. So I installed literally every dating app you can think of, top to bottom. But when the lockdown started I instinctively deleted them all because I thought people would get bored and just be on top of them to pass the time, not looking for anything more.

Ironically, in June I was bored myself and decided to download a dating app again. During confinement, I got bored seeing the same people over and over again – roommates, co-workers, relatives, friends. It was so refreshing to take an hour out of my day and talk to a new person. Recently all I wanted to do was see a new face, listen to new stories, get new perspectives. When you make a virtual date, you have the feeling aaj kuch toh try kiya maine, kuch toh naya kiya.

I have had five virtual dates locked out and I think I really like it. I met guys who really wanted to meet people. The first dates were like a train ride – you don’t really know them, you don’t have to reveal much about yourself, and you can just get comfortable sharing things.

On dates, I used to always go with an open mind. You only have an hour or two, so I used to always establish who I am without any inhibitions, by being brutally honest. I realize now that I could have been overwhelming. I work in sales, so I don’t like the gaps between conversations, mostly because I’m good at bridging those gaps. Thanks to the Covid, I had a lot of time to introspect myself. Why have I had so many first dates and so few seconds? This time I had the soul-searching that made me realize that maybe I am too strong with guys, especially if they’re not used to straightforward, accomplished, strong women. I realized that always filling in the awkward gaps meant I was talking more. I realized I had to let the awkward deviations happen. I started asking the guy more questions, even quirky questions like “would you eat pizza forever or pasta forever?” Of course you also understand the green flags and the red flags, like they don’t want the woman to work after the wedding, they’re out.

I realized I needed to focus more on my hobbies, my personality, than being super ruthless like it was a job interview. And because virtual communication isn’t like in person, the guy and I have become a lot more comfortable acknowledging that we are both clumsy. I even let the boring people speak, I gave them the opportunity to go away. I even asked more questions to get to know them better.

And one of the biggest advantages of virtual dates is that I don’t have to take a shower. I can have my own bottle of wine and drink it during the date. And it’s a lot less uncomfortable for me because I don’t have to worry about an awkward hug or handshake at the end of the date, or worrying about who foots the bill.

I also realized that dating in lockdown has become a lot more about finding out about myself than about the other person. It’s weird, isn’t it? You don’t go on a date with the intention of getting to know each other better. It’s to get to know them better. But the more I went to these dates, the more I realized I had my own filters for what I thought was a good person, what a connection looked like and less what my parents had taught me to look for in a. boy. And without all the jhanjhat of parking, getting dressed, traveling somewhere, I felt very comfortable for those dates.

This project was carried out in partnership with Tinder India.

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