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What does the post-pandemic dating world look like for singles?

The isolation of the pandemic years prompted singles in urban India to look within. That has now brought a need for authenticity and clarity about what they want in a relationship

‘In real life’ is how singles want to meet now.  Photo: Pexels
‘In real life’ is how singles want to meet now. Photo: Pexels

It’s been exactly four years since the covid-19 pandemic gripped the entire globe. The impact of social distancing and isolation has left a mark on social interactions, which is palpable even today when the world has opened up. To my mind, though, the loneliest community during the pandemic was that of the singles, especially those who were staying alone and away from family. Vulnerable and isolated, they fell in love online, went through the ups and downs of a relationship online and then faced heartbreak online. Over months of lockdown, the fatigue of this virtual living set in. I can easily say that 100% of my clients started looking within, introspecting on what they really wanted from a relationship, and how they could work on themselves to be ready for it. 

Yet, in 2022 as the world started trudging towards normalcy, most of my single clients felt very awkward to go on dates in real life. From deciding what to wear to speaking rather than texting were big hurdles they had to cross.  However, they were keen to step out of their homes. 

Two years have passed and the pre-pandemic rhythm of life is back. Here are three important effects that I have noticed in singles, which I feel can be attributed to the pandemic:

Also read: When going separate ways helps a couple grow

Clarity of what they really want in a partner: I am so impressed with a male client of mine, who had worked his way through this in 2023. He knew he wanted to be with someone who was as ambitious as he was when it came to work and personal goals. He articulated this desire in great detail—where he and his partner would live as a couple, the kind of home they would have and each milestone they would drive towards as a couple. He had already met this girl. Our sessions were about guiding him to make sure he didn’t make any mistakes in approaching the subject of marriage with her. They got married in December 2023. 

Dismissing dating apps and meeting in real life:  In my opinion, the disdain towards dating apps started with their over-usage during the pandemic. Now, none of my clients, men or women, want to try finding a partner on a dating app. This is backed with data showing the decline in businesses of most dating apps across the world, post-pandemic. ‘In real life’ is how singles want to meet now. Most of my clients, struggling to find good forums to meet IRL, beg me to restart Floh (an IRL dating company my husband and I founded in 2011, which paused during the pandemic). Dating apps too are now toying with the idea of hosting IRL events. 

Being more authentic about who they are, and striving to be a better version of themselves: This for me is the most heartening outcome for singles. And, perhaps, one which will help them get into the right relationship. The fact that I struggle to take time off from coaching is telling of how many singles are taking the step to seek external help. 80% of them are also going to a counsellor. It takes courage to admit that “I have self-worth issues”, or that “the volatile relationship of my parents has affected me”, or even to say it out loud that “I think I am a ‘taker’ in a relationship, I need to learn how to be a ‘giver’ as well.”

Also read: Finding love in the mundane

It was tough for singles to find a partner pre-pandemic and it continues to be tough even now. But the clarity of what they want in a relationship and authenticity (to understand and be your true self) has been the effect of being forcefully locked in. And that to me is a silver lining.  It provides the best foundation one can have to start a relationship. 

The result of what I have observed will be proven over time, when hopefully the post-pandemic marriages stand the test of time. I will be keeping an eye out for data on that in a few years and write an update.  For now, in my opinion, we are headed to an era where relationships will be healthier than perhaps, they have been in the past. 

This is a limited series by Simran Mangharam, a dating in and relationship coach, who can be reached on simran@floh.in

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