“You know who’s really going to suffer during social distancing? Dudes on dating apps. Welcome back to courtship, Brad. Welcome back to talking to a gal for weeks prior to meeting….” was a meme on social media, made out of a tweet. We’re here in a lockdown, some of us alone, some of us with partners or family, each of us trying our best to stay afloat. And some, who would like more company, have tried to rekindle lost connections, while some try to make new ones.

“This guy I had a decent conversation with but somehow lost touch has just messaged me again,” a friend texts me, with a screenshot of a “Hey, how are you doing?” from the said guy. This is just one of many friends who have found themselves reconnecting with an old match from a dating app that they probably exchanged numbers with, and had a conversation that fizzled out. I asked another friend if she replied to that Tinder match who has texted after months, and she says she did, because, well, we’re bored.

While dating apps aren’t reporting any rise in number of users, there’s definitely been no decline either. In fact, I don’t use Tinder, but downloaded it to see what’s going on. I came across more than a few “want to take you out before Corona does”, about five “not here for long term, will not meet, just want to talk” and a few “let’s ride this out together” bios. Clearly, more people have jumped on to the dating app wagon, either to just have someone to talk to, or make the time to get to know someone. 

Meeting people organically was a task even before we entered into the state we are in right now, but slowly, even the rote five-question conversation on dating apps (where do you stay, what do you do, the likes) before catching up for a drink with a potential match was becoming exhausting. There are three potential dates on a Friday night, and you don’t feel like you know either to actually enjoy their company. Now, there’s a window to have a real conversation, to find out if you’re interested in someone. Speed dating is at a halt, like most things are. Does this mean we’re going to take dating slowly, and actually know someone before getting that coffee or dinner?

Today, Tinder made its ‘passport’ feature, which was mainly for paid Tinder users, free for everyone. Users can set different locations by selecting a city or just dropping a pin, and connect. The idea is to not let social distancing means social disconnecting, according to Tinder Passport’s description. So yes, dating apps are doing what they can to help more people connect, and that is because people want to connect. Some of them are going back to see where the conversation with a previous match stopped, and some are trying to build new connections. There’s more scope of knowing what the other person is doing, if they’re working, watching something new, love cooking, or a new book they have. There’s more possibility to connect on things one likes than the usual “nothing much, it’s so hectic, I’m stuck in traffic.”

Everyone who has been on a dating app has. one time or the other, complained about how robotic it can be, and most of us can’t help it. Romance is not robotic, and even for a casual relationship to survive, there’s an element of romance that can emerge only through conversation. This is irrespective of what you’re “looking for”. While in-person chemistry is a totally different thing, developing a rapport and something to look forward to is an aspect often missing when you meet someone through dating apps, because we’re either incessantly swiping on the first thing that works or doesn’t work for us in a profile, or we have no time to actually talk before we decide to meet. Now, we do, and everyone who has missed that part where you courted each other before heading to Starbucks, courtship is slowly coming back. 

We’re home, we’re matching, we’re talking, and for a change, we’re actually listening.