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From small gestures to thoughtful gifts, romance is now about simplicity

A new report shows that the majority of daters believe that consistent small gestures are more important than once-in-lifetime grand ones

A new report shows that 74% of respondents, including 75% LGBTQ, don’t mind sharing food on a date.(Pexels)

By Aisiri Amin

LAST PUBLISHED 14.02.2024  |  01:00 PM IST

The much talked about “day of love" is here and so are the insights about what modern romance looks like in India. Today, people need a refresher about the ever-evolving dating space every six months. One day people are lauding the grand gestures and within months, the little things have taken over the spotlight. This Valentine’s Day, two new reports from dating apps dive into these changing dating choices.

According to dating app Bumble’s Modern Romance Report 2024, which surveyed over 2,000 single Indian adults aged between 18 and 40 years across gender identities in January, people are focusing on simplicity and authenticity this year. Similar to trends in 2023, people are refusing to play games and prefer to be clear about their dating choices.

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Dating app QuackQuack’s new survey of 15,000 Indians showed that people are breaking set patterns in the dating space, including gender norms, with women taking charge of their love lives, including from Tier 2 and 3 cities. The app also saw a 24% increase in users identifying as women.

We take a look at the overarching themes predicted to take over in the Indian dating space this year, according to the two reports.

The little things

Bumble’s report found that more than 70% of surveyed single Indians, including 64% of LGBTQ+ respondents, believe that consistent small gestures are more important than once-in-lifetime grand ones. For about 30% of respondents, top romantic gestures were taking care of their partners when they are sick, meaningful compliments, surprises with small gifts, as well as visiting and including family in activities. For about 15% of respondents, it was also as bare minimum as valuing their skincare stash.

Datetiquette that works

Single people’s clarity is not limited to dating choices, but also what works on dates. For instance, more than 50% of respondents found it unacceptable if their date was rude to the restaurant's staff. This was specifically more important for women (65%).

Furthermore, almost half of surveyed single Indians, including 42% of LGBTQ+ respondents, thought it was a dealbreaker when their date constantly complained about things. More than 40% wouldn’t put up with someone who constantly interrupted them. Notably, another ick was dental hygiene, with more than 50% of women saying it’s a dealbreaker.

The report also found that 74% of respondents, including 75% LGBTQ, don’t mind sharing food on a date and more than 60% would split the bill. However, some ticks were big surprises. For instance, 56% of people considered it acceptable to talk in a baby voice. Also, 52% of single Indians, including 54% of LGBTQ+ respondents, found that it’s not a dealbreaker if their date spoke with a full mouth.

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Thoughtful not wasteful gifts

If you are thinking of getting the usual chocolates for your date on Valentine’s Day, think again. Over 30% of respondents aged over 25 years expressed in the QuackQuack survey that traditional gifts such as teddy bears, and chocolates are juvenile and wasteful.

Today, people are looking for more thoughtful and meaningful gifts. Specifically, women from Tier 1 and 2 cities said they prefer personalised celebrations to generic ones. It’s more about the thought that goes into it than the gift itself.

Food and films for the win

While gifting chocolates might be a cliché you want to avoid, food is still a love language. According to Bumble’s report, 68% of single Indians surveyed prioritise food choices when making dating decisions. Interestingly, 61% of respondents said they actively sort profiles on dating apps based on food choices and interests.

Food preference can also be a dealbreaker for many, as more than half of Indian respondents (55%) say they can’t date someone who has very different food preferences than them.

Another date idea is a movie marathon or binge-watching series, especially comedies (87%). In the Bumble report, the majority (77%) of Indian respondents said shared watching experiences are important when dating someone. This could also be because over 70% of respondents said they enjoy analysing films and reviewing content together on a date. For many, it’s also a way to check compatibility. The report reveals that 75% of single Indians believe that their date’s opinions about a movie or show help to understand them.

Social media spotlight

Social media has an inescapable influence on people’s lives. In the QuackQuack report, respondents admitted said that sharing appreciation for their partner on social media is part of the relationship.

Bumble’s report reiterated this and showed that 1 in 5 (20%) single Indians surveyed post with or about their partners on social media every day. However, almost 70% of respondents prefer posting about a partner only if they’re serious about them.

Moreover, if a person doesn’t have a social media presence, it’s considered suspicious or ‘sus’. Over half of single women respondents expressed that it is suspicious if their date is not on any social media platform, and 52% of single Indians said wouldn't date someone who isn’t on any social media.

However, the social media presence comes with drawbacks. About 25% of single Indians say they feel pressured by unrealistic standards and unhealthy comparisons that they come across on social media. Almost 25% of single Indians also admitted that social media trends make them feel forced to post about their relationship milestones.

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