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Love in the Time of Lockdown: 98% of India Believes that Virtual Romance is Incomparable to Real-Life Romance

Lockdown Love

Everyone loves a love story. But when it comes to matters of the heart, every generation comes with its own set of rules of engagement. From courtship to choosing to walk up to the altar – there are a lot of said and unsaid ‘to do’s and ‘don’ts’ that prevail. These are interesting not just from a sociological point of view, but even for couples in this very waltz of love. As with every field of life and work, the pandemic and its aftermath didn’t spare the diverse world of romance. Interestingly, while remaining shut indoors, the last year and a half gave us a chance to re-evaluate our take on love and intimacy. Something new was learned, something old was unlearnt – including the very definition of ‘dates’ and ‘meet-cutes’. 


In its first ‘Love Survey 2021’ ITC Engage, India’s leading fragrance brand in collaboration with IPSOS, a global leader in market research, commissioned a study to explore the changing language of love in this New Normal. The study discovers attitudes & behaviour of young India towards romance in the new normal. Engage has always celebrated the language of love and the evolving expression of romance.

The qualitative survey through candid questions unravels interesting insights on love, relationships, conversation starters, attraction, virtual v/s real romance and how these beliefs have changed.

Love under lockdown

Key Findings:

Young individuals and their idea of love and romance63% of respondents believe in long-term relationships 
    New Rules of Virtual engagement  36% of respondents in non-metro cities agreed that physical distancing is not a hindrance to romance these days as there are various means available to continue the romance and keep the spark alive. In contrast to the opinion in the non-metros, only 24% of respondents from metro cities felt the same
Impact of Lockdown on RelationshipsLockdown had put new relationships under stress – with almost 80% of single /casual daters finding it difficult to initiate/ develop a relationship. 75% of respondents feel starting and developing relationships has become more difficult due to lockdowns. On the other hand, it also helped people understand meaningful aspects of their relationships
Virtual vs Real Life98% of the total respondents believe virtual romance is completely different from real romance. Virtual romance is perceived to lack authenticity, is more casual in nature and risky.
Real Life romance wins over Virtual Romance50% of respondents believe that romance in the virtual world works well for people who are a little shy/introvert in real life while 50% of respondents in metros feel romance in the virtual world is more flirtatious/casual and generally not serious. 46% of the respondents felt that romance in the virtual world sometimes can become very dangerous
Romance pre and during COVID-19In the course of the pandemic, the linkage of romance with positive words has noticed a decline. In the COVID world, there is a 23% drop for the word ‘being together, followed by a 14% dip for ‘chemistry’ in the current scenario. However, associations for negative words like ‘difficult’, ‘anxiety’ and ‘frustrating’ have increased by 25%, 15% and 20% respectively– indicating the shift in the idea of romance in the new normal
Impact of LockdownThe isolation due to the pandemic has helped 85% of the respondents understand meaningful aspects of their relationships. But the lockdown has helped 84% of the respondents to find new and innovative ways of connecting with their partners
Social Distancing between Lovers

Romance in this new normal has witnessed a significant shift but love as an emotion continues to seek ways to nurture and deepen a bond. Virtual romance in the digital age has its pros and cons. There is a continuous need to explore ways to keep the spark alive. Be it organising fun virtual dates, enjoying a movie marathon or a sudden virtual surprise, it is imperative to keep the connection as real as possible. However, holding hands & walking in the rain, sharing sweet nothings in person, will always have a special place.

*The Engage Love Survey 2021 was conducted with 1199 young men and women between the ages of 18-35 years living in metros and non-metros. The survey was conducted by IPSOS Research Private Limited in December 2020.

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