"I think all the good men are taken,” she said as I answered the phone. “No matter how hard I try to be discerning with my swipes, I still manage to find the ones with the most damage – they are great with sweet talk, but cannot put their money where their mouth is when it comes to commitment.”
If you’ve felt like this after a Tinder, Bumble, or Hinge match, chances are, you’re not alone. For most, the pandemic has made them connected to people on a deeper level. And for singles, to date with an intention of carrying it forward.
Dating by design
The new normal has redefined love, romance, and dating. Popular dating app, Hinge, has reported a rise in what’s now being termed as intentional dating.
According to the app’s research team, “Singles took time during the pandemic to reflect on their dating lives, leading them to slow down, think about who they are looking for, put a stop to bad dating habits, and become more intentional about dating.”
What does this mean for dating post the pandemic? This simply translates into people being more discerning and taking a realistic approach when it comes to finding love. They weed out matches that may raise a few red flags, and look at connecting with someone they can perhaps settle down with.
“I’ve had to use dating apps to meet potential partners in the last couple of years since I’m not big on socialising,” says 29-year-old Ben D’Mello*, a Pune-based service improvement manager working with an IT solutions company.
“I’ve come across a lot of women with profiles that say no hook-ups, and every time I matched with someone it was the standard drill—we’d text for some time, go on a couple of dates, have sex, and not take it forward,” he says.
His issue with the ‘system’ is that it has been an emotional drain for him. “I invest myself emotionally in these conversations, but matches in the past have ended up in a one-night stand. My intention with dating apps is to find a companion, not necessarily long-term. I do occasionally use it as a tool for a hook-up, but at those times I update my bio accordingly. I have met only two women who I’ve genuinely connected with and wanted to see where it could lead,” says D’Mello.
More conscious with choices
What does intentional dating look like in practice? Unlike slow dating, a trend that involves taking the time to get to know someone before deciding to meet them in person, intentional dating is a more stringent screening process you’d apply to a potential partner.
Sumeet Manghnani, 34, a senior manager at a Mumbai-based consulting firm, and a proud Hinge user, says, “When I initially got on the app, it was out of boredom and not with the intention of finding anything serious. But, over the last couple of years, as I’ve begun to grow up and realise that I genuinely want to settle down, my usage habits have changed. I find myself more receptive to deeper, more meaningful connections.”
Naturally, an increased self-awareness, and the fact that people know what they want in a partner, has led to more conscious choices—whether it’s their diet, workouts, or dating habits.
Hinge Labs (Hinge’s research team) opines that the pandemic may have had a positive impact on dating habits, inspiring a new wave of intentional relationships.
Its researchers have found that two out of three users want to change the way they date once it is safe to meet in person again; 45 per cent of their users reported developing new healthy dating habits during the pandemic; more than two-thirds of its users are thinking more about who they’re really looking for; users have also stated that they’ve stopped chasing people who aren’t interested in them; one in three users feel an urgency to find a partner since the pandemic began while more than half said they're ready for a long-term, serious relationship.
Single ready to mingle?
It’s no surprise that millennials are more welcoming of this dating trend, but how do Gen X or Gen Z feel about dating with an aim to riding off into the sunset with the partner of their dreams?
Sonali Kapadia, a 24-year-old content creator from Bengaluru, says, “I’m not necessarily interested in being in a relationship, but I’m definitely intrigued by the idea of being more intentional about how I swipe right and inevitably date my match.”
Then there are those keen about a new dating trend, especially if it means they won’t have to deal with commitment-phobic suitors.
“I’m actually super excited to hear about the trend. I don’t think I have the stomach for those superficial ‘What do you do for a living?’ drink dates anymore,” says 44-year-old pastry chef and single mom, Sharon Gomes* from Goa.
*Names changed on request