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‘Swiping Right’ has skyrocketed mid lockdown

Updated: Sep 26, 2020

Bhuvaneswar Velmurugan and Shramidha Srivastava

21st September 2020

Dating apps fill the void of lonely hearts and missed connections amidst the COVID-19 lockdown. (Source: iStock)

The COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected economies and has taken a negative toll on businesses across the world. Yet, in a strange turn of events dating apps have seen an increase in their user base and have shown profits higher than pre-pandemic times. Match Group, which owns famous apps like Tinder, Hinge, and OkCupid has reported a 15 per cent spike in subscriptions over the pandemic.

Popular apps like Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge have all reported a surge in their users and use time, amid the ‘phase that has changed existence in a myriad of ways'. “A lot of people from my college got on dating platforms after they came back home from the hostel”, says Shreya, who studies at Karnavati University, Gujarat. The Vice President of Strategy at Bumble, Priti Joshi, told Huffington Post that the average video call/phone call time on the app was at an all-time high at 18 minutes, indicating more Indian users were using dating apps during the lockdown.

There are various reasons which can explain this sudden hike in users. For some, it might be a way to escape from the monotony of life during the mundane quarantine. It might also be the fact that people were forced into their homes and had to find newer ways to seek the companionship of which they were deprived of. A student in her late teens, Devanshi says, “More people have joined these dating apps because of loneliness, including myself. And I have definitely made a few friends.” 

According to Narendra Kinger, a senior clinical psychologist and psychotherapist from Mumbai, the basic need to connect with other humans was amplified after the lockdown, as most people were no longer satisfied with their relationships or day-to-day activities. Speaking to Huffington Post, he said, “Bound by all sorts of restrictions during the lockdown, dating apps gained popularity as they came with the freedom to ‘just be’ and ‘interact with others’.” 

Those who had never used dating apps registered themselves on popular platforms to socialise. Aaditya, a student from Manipal stated, “I had seen my friends use Tinder and Bumble, but never used it myself as I was mostly occupied with indulging in sporting events. This felt like the right time to explore, given that I had free time, so I got on Tinder.”

People who like to be known as the ‘party animals’, felt that the 2020 pandemic had created a vacuum in their ‘outgoing’ life, and this void was in a way was filled by virtual dating. At the same time, for those who fall under the category of 'introverts', these apps provide them with a platform to interact while being in their comfort zone.

According to a survey in Econsultancy, another major reason would be the new features that these apps continually roll out, that have continued to come out as an advantage during this ‘phase of solitary confinement’. These features focus on bridging the gap between people and bring them closer virtually.

Hinge added a new feature that allows users to see a ‘Date from Home’ menu that enables an option to engage in a video or phone call with their match. Bumble has also tweaked and improved on its distance filters, which allows the users to connect with people anywhere in the same country along with an added voice note feature for those who wish to go beyond texting.

Tinder has emerged as the most popular dating app, and has been downloaded around 2500 crore times since its launch in 2012 and has been a major contributor to the spike in figures during the lockdown, according to the statistics published by Business Insider. Taru Kapoor, General Manager, Tinder India, told HuffPost India that conversations were up by 39 per cent on the app. Tinder, also made the record of the highest recorded swipes in a single day, on March 29 this year, when the count of swipes notched up to a whopping 21,000 crores. It is reportedly set to make its ‘passport’ feature (which allows one to match with other users in different destinations around the globe and not just in their vicinity) a free feature that is currently available only on the premium Plus and Gold subscriptions.

These additional features adapted to present circumstances, have made it more convenient to understand a person before taking any further decision, which can be helpful even in the long run. This draws a pertinent assumption – this ‘phase’ could very well change the dynamics of online dating.

Sources: Huffington Post, Econsultancy, Business Insider, Today

Edited by Mridula Kumar

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