The formula of love during the pandemic: dating online without the masks and mutual obligations
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The formula of love during the pandemic: dating online without the masks and mutual obligations

3 August , 11:18Society
Two months of quarantine radically changed the algorithms of love and intimacy. The path to family happiness has become easier. Dating and romance have gone online. The number of users of dating sites is growing rapidly. The Russian segment of the JuliaDates service alone experienced a 1.5-fold increase in attendance.

Irina Mishina

Dating sites around the world are reporting an increase in the number of visitors. However, the pandemic and the quarantine were just made secret. Isolation brought out the loneliness of millions of people living in huge cities who got lost in the crowd and could not find a loved one. Trapped within four walls during quarantine, many have left in search of communication on social networks and dating sites. The bans on walks and meetings made the correspondence longer and more romantic. Paid services have become in demand confirming the seriousness of intentions. "Romance is blooming on dating platforms now", - says Yulia Ignatieva, head of the Russian representative office of Badoo. "I can't say anything about the content of our users' correspondence, I don't read them. But I can say one thing: people spend more time in the app and in chats".

Whether a new quality of relations is being born in these chats, which columnists for The New York Times and Russian publications write about, remains a mystery. Love stories develop in different ways. But one thing is clear: when they find themselves in isolation, people try to cope with loneliness and despondency and look for a way out in online communication.

70% of Russian users of the largest international dating network Badoo admitted that they would like to be in a relationship during the pandemic and quarantine period. Nearly half of the respondents to the company's study said their attitudes towards online dating had changed due to isolation. Three quarters of them say that they are now more open to new contacts and prefer lengthy dialogues in order to get to know their partner or friend better. The New York Times rejoices: "The coronavirus is changing the love game for the better".

However, it is too early to celebrate the triumph of romance. “There are bans all around, it is impossible to invite to a restaurant, there were patrols on the streets for a long time, many decided that girls and women, out of despair and loneliness, would immediately agree to dating at home and quick sex. But it was not there. There were only a few of those who decided to date. Soloviev and Kiselev so apparently were brainwashed that the fear of contracting the coronavirus suppressed many of the sexual desire",- says NI user Mamba Sergey P.

The crisis made dating more pragmatic. Many dating site users have begun to monetize their attractiveness or partner feelings. “Girls more often started asking for virtual gifts or donations in exchange for continuing flirting. Material support has become more relevant than ever. And sometimes in the most direct form. Instead of flirting from a pretty girl, you can now get, for example, such an answer to the standard question "How are you?": "In general, it couldn't get any worse. In general, already everything. Can you help with food? ((((I'll throw off the check. I'll prove it. Sorry, there's really nothing", - one of the users shares the experience of communicating on a dating site in the networks).

Yuri is a longtime frequenter of dating sites. He even had a daughter from one of the "internet novels" on Badoo . However, the marriage was never registered, the relationship soon faded away. Yuri is currently registered on the dating site Tinder.

The period of self-isolation has greatly affected the relationship between people on Tinder. Everything became easier and simpler, - says Yuri. - I made an acquaintance, something else, correspondence began, but you suddenly found a more interesting way of communication. In this case, you simply delete the previous "passion" without explaining the reasons. Communication has become more pragmatic. On the other hand, according to my impressions, during and after self-isolation, dating sites began to be used not only for their intended purpose, but also for finding work, potential clients. Some monetize their communication and offer correspondence for money. This has never happened before! Communication has turned into earnings. Some openly ask for money: "Give me 5-10 thousand rubles, I have no money at all". Part of the audience uses the dating site to promote their Instagram, linking it to their profile. By gaining likes, such users monetize their Instagram. In my opinion, dating sites have outgrown their function during the quarantine period - acquaintance and communication. Now this is something else. It's just that the world has changed during the pandemic. Human relations have also changed”, - Yuri said.

The period of the self-isolation and quarantine influenced the psyche of people in different ways. Some suffered from a lack of communication, others suffered within four walls with their family members. Suddenly, old grievances surfaced, in some cases it became obvious that people who had not been connected for a long time lived under the same roof.

Angela divorced her husband during a period of self-isolation. “Without scandals, without clarifying the relationship, we just parted after 15 years of marriage, realizing that we had nothing in common. The son is 15 years old, he now communicates with my ex-husband, who lives now alone. The spouse left us the apartment, paid all the bills - in general, everything happened in a civilized manner and without problems. He just went nowhere, saying that he wants to live alone. In order not to cling to the past, I signed up on the dating site Tinder. The first two weeks everything was awful: the photo was in masks, the only conversations were about how to buy buckwheat. There was no question of meetings - everyone was afraid of getting infected. Almost all relationships that were established during correspondence ended with the words: "I'll meet with you after the restrictions are lifted". There was only one brave man who made an appointment for me in the Solovyinaya Grove in Khimki. There was a wonderful place, people walked without masks. We met several times, then Victor made me an offer. We started a relationship. It was very funny: after each date we ran to get tested to find out if we had contracted each other. We have already introduced our children from previous marriages, but I have not deleted my profile yet. Recent events have taught me that life can change at any moment. I had stories on dating sites when, after a long, frank correspondence, a person simply deleted me without giving any reason. So I'm not rushing things”, - Angela says.

Свидания оффлайн в период карантина часто носили экзотический характер.

Meetings during quarantine and restrictions have spawned many memes on dating sites. Regarding the impossibility of dating in the conditions of access control in Moscow, the following appeared: a girl orders a one-time pass. Indicates the series and number of the passport, Troika card and the travel address. “Specify the purpose of the trip”, - the bot demands from her. - "A visit to a lover". “Don't risk it”, - the robot advises on behalf of the authorities. - Please stay at home. A volunteer will come to you".

Love, friendship, meeting, parting - all of it for the owners of online dating sites is actually nothing more than a way to earn money. According to various sources, today the volume of the global online dating market ranges from 6 to 10 billion dollars. And it is growing rapidly: as more dating, leading to lasting relationships, occurs online, people are willing to pay for services that can lead to meeting a potential partner. One testament to the profitability of online dating platforms was Facebook's decision to launch its own dating app.

How do dating services earn? Take Badoo, for example , which today covers over 480 million users worldwide. Its revenue is measured in hundreds of millions of dollars. “Today it is one of the largest Internet companies in Western Europe”, - says Zlata Nikolayeva, editor-in-chief of the Internet publication Slon.ru. - This service is free, but it earns on a very simple scheme: for a certain amount you can raise your profile to the top. This is enough for the user to receive up to 50 messages a day. On Mamba, some spend a thousand dollars a day to be in the TOP, on the top line, because this is popularity. Interestingly, Badoo was originally a social network and only eventually transformed into a dating site".

By the way, the social network Livejournal is also increasingly turning into a platform for dating, where you can give a gift to someone you are interested in for a few dollars. But photos and social media correspondence are deceiving. I remember that once one overly persistent user began to show "monetized" attention to me. He introduced himself as a specialist in the field of Internet technologies and offered his services in my professional field. An intriguing attractive avatar, a non-repulsive photo, competent speech, knowledge in an area of interest to me - all this forced me in the end to agree to a business meeting. Imagine my disappointment when a bald old man from Tver appeared in front of me, who really badly needed earnings or "just cash right now". The consequences of this meeting made themselves felt for a long time: after his fiasco, my online fan began to post various fables and outright nasty things about me.

But back to commerce. The win-win mechanism of paid services brings millions of dollars in revenue to almost all dating sites. For example, Tinder does not have a cheap price tag for paid profiles. These questionnaires offer certain advantages. For example, “My Tinder Plus” for 1300 rubles per month allows you to make an unlimited number of likes, view “suitable people”, and also see the most active users in recent years. Plus the ability to raise your profile to the TOP popular. "Tinder gold" for only 2 thousand rubles a month makes it possible to get "super likes". It is also a way to raise the profile in the "TOP" and "be at the peak of popularity". Without this, the user of the service has little chance of promoting his profile and, therefore, finding a couple, friend, employee, employer or consumer of his services. “I have a free Tinder account. My companion has a paid profile. He pays, in his words, about 2,500 rubles. per month to promote your profile. Several times I received offers from the service to promote the anchor, but I refused. As a result, my profile at some point "drowned" in a thousand others, but by that time I was already tired of masked fans who demanded proof that I did not have a coronavirus. And I seem to have already found a pair for myself”, - says Angela.

“A paid account on a dating service is not necessarily a guarantee of success,” says Mamba user Larisa. She posted her profile on a dating site after several failed romances in real life. And unexpectedly she met her fate there. “The main thing is your image. And more luck”, - the woman said. True, according to her, before meeting the "man of her dreams," she went through all the circles of hell. “80% of messages are offers of sex without obligations, without material and emotional costs,” says Larisa. The user of Mamba Marina, who complains about such proposals, quotes a message from a certain Grigory Nikolaevich: "Hello. How do you look at if I offer you sex without the obligations? Not commerce". There are hundreds of such messages, they fall on women of all ages in an endless stream. And with the growth of the quantitative indicators of online dating sites, no changes are taking place", - Marina believes, - There are many new men, but little sense".

Still, experts agree that dating sites during a pandemic are more of a blessing. “The sudden lack of communication between people has become one of the main negative consequences of the pandemic. And online applications in this sense are extremely useful because they allow you to find people with whom you can communicate, even on the Internet”. This is stated, in particular, in a recently released statement by Tinder CEO Eli Seidman.

Badoo experts attribute the growing popularity of online dating services to commercialism: in their opinion, "this is a cheaper option for dating". Indeed, after chatting on a social network or on a dating site, a person goes to a cafe or cinema with a person they already like. Whereas the offline scheme works the other way around: you go to the cinema, hoping for a successful acquaintance.

"The number of daily posts on the American segment of Tinder during the quarantine period increased by 10-15 percent compared to February data", - said a Tinder spokesman in an interview with DW. "And in Italy and Spain, it grew to 25 percent, and this is a European trend. Duration Chatting has also increased by 10-30 percent over the February figures". Other major online partner search apps, such as Bumble and Plenty of Fish, are also seeing a surge in user activity, especially in countries where rather severe restrictive measures have been introduced to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Исполнительный директор "Мамбы" Ярослав Сергеев считает, что период пандемии и карантина превратил сайты знакомств в социально значимые сервисы.

One way or another, the income of dating sites has increased significantly during the pandemic. This was confirmed to NI by the executive director of Mamba, Yaroslav Sergeyev: “Mamba is growing steadily, the mobile audience in the Russian Federation has grown by 30%. In 2020, we are not going to slow down and continue to actively promote the application, especially since the situation with the coronavirus has generated a lack of offline communication, and in this context, Mamba has become even more socially significant and necessary. 1 million new users come to us every month, this figure may fluctuate slightly depending on the month. The peak of registrations this year falls on April, this is the height of self-isolation. Also in April, we recorded an increase in the duration of correspondence by 18%, people were sitting at home and they clearly lacked communication. Along with the removal of restrictive measures, registrations slightly decreased, in June we registered 17% less. But we do not associate this with the coronavirus, the fact is that such a picture is observed every year: the winter months, especially December, are more “fruitful” for organic matter, as people are summing up the results, making plans for the new calendar year, including for personal life, think more actively about finding a pair. Therefore, registrations for June and July in 2020 are within the normal range”, - said the executive director of Mamba.

"People meet, people fall in love, get married...". This famous formula for personal happiness seems to be a relic of the past. The pandemic and quarantine measures launched a different algorithm for love: people meet on the Internet, correspond, and if everything goes well, they meet. Well, then - as you are lucky. At the same time, mutual obligations become atavisms. At least for relationships that started online.

P.S. If to believe the study of American Scientists, acquaintances online often leads to a strong and happy marriage. The survey involved 19 thousand people. 35% of those polled met their future soul mate on the Internet, considering their marriage to be happy.

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