Dating and finding love in Singapore: Is Coromance still possible in the age of lockdown?

Dating and finding love in Singapore: Is Coromance still possible in the age of lockdown?

The Brunch Download

Text: Rahat Kapur

"Hey girl. Are you the Corona Virus? Because I got chills just looking at you."

I blinked down at my phone and sighed deeply at the text in front of me. It was the third message of its kind I'd received this week on a dating app. It was like the pandemic had sucked out whatever remaining creativity existed on these platforms and walked all over it with a six-inch heel, until there was no hope of any recovery. Really, dude? If using a potentially fatal disease as an entry-line to impress a woman is the best you can do, I'd rather stay in self-isolation.

Welcome to dating in the time of 'Rona 2020. What a year these last four months have been. Locked away in our Rapunzel-like towers with Netflix and no chill, I must admit, I was naïve enough to think that COVID-19 would re-shape the world of Coromance this year. And boy, was I wrong or was I WRONG? Did I think men would suddenly become masters of conversation to lure a woman into their den of charm, now that touching between strangers is not allowed anymore? Yes. Did I expect a rise in quality of people using dating apps who may not otherwise do so, because they can meet people anywhere 'cause they're so goddamn handsome? Yes. Did I think I was going to receive a love letter written in the style of Lord Byron on Tinder, sweeping me off my feet? Yes. Am I a fool for all the above? Also, yes. What did I actually receive? Several variations of the below:

"Hey Rahat."

Me, trying not to judge this very bland opening so I do not die alone in isolation:

"Hey! How are you?"

"Hmmm lonely. Shouldn't have left my ex before quarantine lol."

I'm done. Hardly the "She Walks in Beauty" I was expecting. Lord Byron? More like, Oh Lord, Bye-Ron.

But seriously, all Tinder trauma aside, is this really all that's out there, even at the brink of an apocalypse? I mean wouldn't you think that the idea of isolating alone for months on end, trapped in a mind-cage of your own emotions and existentialism, would make people want to seek solace in the digital arms of another? Or are we just waiting for this post-lockdown world to descend where we know things will go back to normal? Much like a yo-yo diet, do we think this change is only temporary, even if it's doing us some good?

I've asked myself and a very few select group of people the very same question.

In a very official and robust survey conducted via the reputed research platform, Instagram, I asked my followers this past week about their thoughts on Coromance ahead of today's column.

From a sample size of the 250 millennials who engaged, here are the key takeaways:

  • 81% of surveyed respondents felt coronavirus had changed the landscape of dating but couldn't say how
  • Only 32% of respondents had increased consumption of dating apps significantly as a result of Covid-19, with the remaining either reducing their consumption or no change at all
  • 64% of respondents said they were having better quality chats with other dating app users online (where are these people? I can't find them)
  • 63% of respondents said they were enjoying their space more than feeling the pressure to date during this time
  • Only 1 out of 6 respondents on average contemplated having a serious relationship in lieu of their traditional hook-ups as a result of Covid-19
  • Finally, 36% of people admitted to texting their exes during this time to avoid loneliness or restart a relationship (Girl you know this number is a lie because like four of mine have touched based with me already and answered no online so......)

As a former management consultant, my immense expertise in data tells me that basically, people want dating to change but are too content being alone to really care if it does, even in times of coronavirus. And what's worse, only the few of us who fear becoming cat ladies and boys are the ones who are mainly concerned about this. It seems, all Covid-19 has done is exacerbate the notion of half-in, half-out dating because now, you have a full get-out-of-jail free card. It seems we're also too cool to admit we're kind of lonely, so we lie about contacting people we know we don't like anymore, because it's better to be with someone you don't like, than have someone not like you at all. Thank you, I'll take my honorary degree from Harvard now.

Jokes aside, I was surprised to find this survey as a great representation of how we feel about dating as millennials today in general. A push and pull between wanting a better quality of dating life, but not feeling discontented enough to change ourselves fundamentally to strive for it. We're unhappy being alone, yet somehow even unhappier changing to not be alone.

And that's probably why no matter how many countries I've switched my dating apps to during free Tinder passport season (Latvia got some hot people, man, who knew?), no matter how many 'serious' dating platforms I've been on, and no matter how many fantasies of renaissance men I entertain, the simple truth is, coronavirus or not, dating seriously is hard in 2020.

Across two weeks and five apps, I've vouched hope for men around the world, begging for them to prove me wrong. But aside from getting seriously offended when I compliment their dog instead of them in the first message and telling me it's not good to assume things about people when I mentioned Melbourne people are the coolest (hometown vibes), nothing much has really changed. I've realised that, whilst we might be trying to flatten the curve elsewhere, in Coromance, all these curves are getting is a flatline.

Sadly, it appears it will take a lot more than a pandemic to influence the role of conversation and connection and uplift it to create a true dating paradigm shift. In fact, all that Covid-19 has done instead, is leave an awkward vacuum between choosing someone for how hot they are and not having anyone at all. In the words of Joey from Friends, dating during lockdown seems to have become much of a moo point. Like a cow's opinion, no one really cares.

For those screaming at the screen for me to give up, trust me, no one is sadder than I. Yes, there's a Jeremy Cohen for every Jeremiah please-end, and meet-cutes are still inevitably going to happen. But it appears what coronavirus has done is bring to the surface the bubbles of resistance we call hope when it comes to millennial romance. Wanting it all, but giving it nothing, and hoping it still works out.

But she who lacks faith lacks dates, so you know I'll still be waiting for my Big Love, 'Rona or not. Who knows, maybe 2021 will be my year (post-apocalyptic feels y'all). For the time being, I'm going to stay indoors, mask my emotions, and safely ensure I COVOID the chills guy.

R xxx

PS. To keep you all entertained and laughing, this column will be turning weekly for the foreseeable future. Much like a Richard picture, you get more of me, without even asking. You're welcome!