Digital intimacy amid social distancing

Use of dating apps catching on


Twenty-five-year old Subash (name changed on request) who hails from Kusunti, Lalitpur returned to Nepal a month ago from India after his university shut down temporarily because of the COVID-19 pandemic. One week into the lockdown, he decided to instal two dating apps — Tinder and Bumble on his phone due to what he calls “sheer boredom”.

“Because I used to devote all my attention to my studies, dating was something I had never thought about. Now, that I’m home with lots of time on my hands, I’ve been testing these dating apps,” he shares.

As per him, conversing with potential love interests online has helped him kill boredom during the lockdown that is into its second month now. “It’s not just passing time, I have made some genuine bonds with people I’ve met online. I hope I can meet some of my matches as soon as the lockdown is lifted. I am very excited to go on some dates,” Subash adds.

Though real-life dating in the time of social distancing is both unsafe and unlikely, dating applications like Tinder, Bumble, Tantan, Badoo among others have given hopeless romantics and people seeking companionship a chance to seek love, friendship and even relationships.

Globally, the use and popularity of these dating apps have increased, the trend of which has caught on in Nepal as well.

Twenty-year-old Abhishek Adhikari’s bio on Tinder proudly states: “Here because of the quarantine”. Adhikari, who hails from Pulchowk, joined Tinder a few days into the lockdown and has been an active member since. He says, “I am an introvert and have been enjoying talking to girls online as I don’t have to step out of my comfort zone and things don’t get awkward or weird.”

He adds, “There are only so many series and movies that one can watch during the lockdown, talking to your friends and family gets monotonous after a while. Though I’m not looking for anything serious, I am enjoying meeting new people online and getting to know them.”

“Since humans are social animals, social engagement is necessary for them.

Though engaging in projects and programmes online can be done, it is also necessary to engage with people online,” shares Jamuna Maharjan Shrestha, Clinical Manager at TPO Nepal.

As per her, people might enjoy solitude for a while, but as Nepal is in the second month of lockdown, it is normal for people to crave social engagements.

Subash, who frequently engages in phone conversations with his dating app matches shares, “A conversation with a stranger sitting at home doing nothing, just wanting a soul to talk to can be an intimate experience. I feel it is easier to talk about your insecurities and problems to strangers.” He adds, “Digital intimacy is definitely not the same as meeting a person in real, but I feel being able to talk to people online in this time of social distancing is great, we have to thank technology for that.”

A version of this article appears in e-paper on April 28, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.