Love in the times of coronavirus: millennials prefer online to offline

Coronavirus might have halted all industries, but millennials around the world plan to continue their hunt for love on dating apps.

Clichéd as it sounds, in a throwback to legendary writer Gabriel García Márquez's iconic novel Love in the Time Cholera, millennials today are fixating on a new catchphrase – love in the time of corona(virus).

It is everywhere – tweets, memes, videos, headlines, and more.

As concerns surrounding COVID-19 reach epic proportions, with the World Health Organisation (WHO) having declared it a pandemic, industries and stock markets globally are reeling from a bloodbath.

But online dating platforms seem to be relishing the tough times, with unprecedented activity recorded in the past few weeks. Even though 'social distancing' is the most important word right now, it cannot stop people's pursuit of love.

International dating service OkCupid surveyed its users to understand whether the spread of coronavirus is affecting millennials and their dating lives. "The question hit a nerve with more than 15,000 responses in less than a week," shares the company.

OkCupid found that a whopping 88 percent of its users are willing to go out on dates despite the coronavirus outbreak. In India, that number is slightly lower at 74 percent, but still impressive, especially when medical experts have highlighted that any kind of physical contact enhances the chances of catching the virus.

"When looking at respondents by city in India, there is no significant difference in opinion as the majority of millennials across the country (74 percent in Bengaluru, 76 percent in Mumbai, and 77 percent in Delhi) saying that they are still willing to meet a potential partner in person," OkCupid said in a statement.

Closer home, dating apps like TrulyMadly and Aisle are witnessing record engagement levels, with millennials wanting to kill more time as other social activities dry up. In fact, dating platforms expect an increase in activity in the near future.

Snehil Khanor, Co-founder and CEO, TrulyMadly told YourStory,

"If anything, I think activity might increase in the near future if people start avoiding unnecessary outings and socialising. People will then move to virtual socialising. All forms of online socialising including multiplayer gaming and dating may witness an increase in activity."

Able Joseph, Co-founder and CEO of Aisle, told YourStory,

"We are not seeing a drop. In fact, day before yesterday was our best in terms of revenue, no additional marketing. So far so good."

Several users, who are following the social distancing rules, have admitted to increased sexting. "Turning down invitations for drinks and dinner and just staying holed up in my apartment and sexting is about the extent of my love life now,” wrote one.

Dirty texting "is a fun way to handle the lull before you can actually meet in person," said another.

Globally, countries like Spain and France have doled out official warnings for their citizens to avoid kissing and other forms of physical contact.

In Italy, meanwhile, PornHub is giving away free access to its premium content in a bid to make people stay home. Italy has reported the worst coronavirus outbreak in Europe, and is currently under a countrywide lockdown.

But with no such lockdowns in India yet, we'll continue to look for love online.

(With inputs from Dipti Nair)

(Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta)


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