“Let’s grab a drink” might not be the default first date idea this Valentine's Day. With more people going on sober dates, this idea, primarily popular for its casual vibes, is being shown the door. As the dating scene has evolved, so have the daters. There seems to be an attitudinal shift towards prioritizing emotional openness, mental maturity, and authentic connections.
People are moving in the direction of the much debated ‘36 questions that lead to love’ to get to know someone, rather than approaching dates like running quick errands. With Valentine's Day knocking on our doors, here are some things that daters are focusing on this year.
A recent survey by the dating app Bumble showed that 1 in 4 single Indians who consume alcohol revealed that will not do so on dates this year. For the majority (56%), this conscious change is to focus on getting to know the person with a clear mind. Alcohol is often thought of as a way to calm the mind before the date. For instance, 1 in 2 surveyed millennials said they turn to alcohol on a date to settle their nerves, whereas almost 1 in 3 GenZ respondents said that they do it to give their date company.
“Since the pandemic, we have seen a rise in ‘sober curiosity’ and more people opting for alcohol-free dry dates. Dating while sober may feel more difficult for some, but nothing feels more empowering than living a life true to your needs,” said Samarpita Samaddar, India Communications Director, Bumble in a press release.
Some dates come with a constant third wheel -- the burning hole in your pocket. The more unreadable the dishes get on the menu, the more the third wheel asserts its presence. However, this year people seem to be choosing practical dates over fancy ones. A survey among 15,000 users from tier 1 and 2 cities by QuackQuack on how people prefer to celebrate their Valentine’s day showed that 47% of daters prefer to have a budget-friendly Valentine's day date over expensive dining and presents. Those aged below 23 years, who are probably just starting their careers, also revealed that they have a pact with their partner about exchanging meaningful but practical gifts.
The excessive importance bestowed on romantic love, yet another problematic heirloom passed down through generations like patriarchy and privilege—interestingly, all interconnected—is being questioned today with more people bringing it down the pedestal and focusing equally on other kinds of love, specifically friendships. The QuackQuack survey showed that 37% of the participants between 25 and 30 years use the app to find form connections beyond romantic relationships. People are going on dates to meet like-minded people with an intention of developing friendships. If love creeps up along the way, so be it but those who feel lonely, especially with the pandemic trapping us in a bubble for long, are looking forward to conversations and experiences without the burdening expectation of ‘finding love.’
With better awareness about personal space, consent, and boundaries, people are communicating their physical, emotional, and mental boundaries more vocally. Daters are wasting no time in calling out red flags and inappropriate behaviour and are also more mindful of their actions and words. A previous survey by QuackQuack showed that 34% of men from tier 1 and 2 cities who re-examined their behaviour found that they were projecting toxic masculinity involuntarily and found this unacceptable.
Communicating boundaries makes it easier to bring your authentic self to the dates and keep the unnecessary politeness and exhausting masks at bay. It makes the dating space feel safer and more accessible.