NEW DELHI :
Utkarsh Khandelia doesn't start his day without seeing his partner. Lying in bed, they spend an hour talking over a video call, reminiscing about past dates, planning where they will go next once the lockdown is lifted, or just talking about their day.
Having met seven months ago, the couple used to spend time together every other day but after the coronavirus outbreak and the lockdown forced people to remain confined to their houses, the 20-something couple switched to regular video calls, texts, emojis, even a weekly virtual date night, to keep their bond strong.
Despite this, it hasn’t been a smooth ride. “There are so many people at home, it is difficult to find time alone. Also, tempers run high when you are indoors with family. We have had some fights because one of us was frustrated, and said something we did not mean," admits Khandelia.
The lockdown has changed the dating scene. Dependence on technology has increased tremendously in the past two months. The long-forgotten rooftops have become the new meeting spot. The banal get-to-know-you conversations have been replaced by discussions about coping with a global crisis and what the future is going to look like. And online fitness classes for couples are now “a romantic gesture".
Relationship counseling app Lasting recently released a survey, which found that 70% unmarried couples and those who do not stay together are keeping in touch with their partners over phone and video chats. Almost half of them (44%) prefer to connect whenever they miss their significant others, a small group of respondents (15%) like to set timelines for catching up to keep the discipline. Among those surveyed, 46% of respondents are looking forward to discussing topics such as their future, career and kids with their significant other as well.
Chitwan Lamba enrolled herself and her fiancé, Sehaj Singh Virk, for online parkour classes soon after their May wedding was pushed to next year because of the lockdown. “This is the only time we can be together since our work schedules are different," says Lamba, 28, a doctoral-scholar at Indian Institute of Technology Delhi. After the class, the couple gets on a video call and discusses the workout. Lamba believes the lockdown has been a blessing in disguise for their relationship. “It has taught us problem-solving skills. When the wedding got postponed, we had no choice but to be patient. We needed to work on our communication to make sure that the other person understands and doesn’t have to guess what I am going through."
Some are resorting to games to keep their relationship strong. Pragya Sharma, 26, and her partner, who meet in school, were doing virtual date nights and games, but they realized it was getting boring. So when an opportunity came for the two to judge an online logo design competition, they happily took it. “We had so much fun," says Sharma. She and her partner are looking for online courses, which they could study together. “I was a little worried about the lockdown and its effect on our relationship but this time has actually allowed us to learn more about each other," she says.
Shweta Saha’s biggest worry during the lockdown was how she would celebrate her boyfriend’s birthday in April. Having met on a dating app a few months ago, the birthday was supposed to be an extra special occasion for the two. So Saha, 23, came up with a plan: “We had our virtual date at midnight. We dressed up, had our meals together, and read out our chats from when we had just started dating. It was a really special night."