Love In The Time Of Lockdown

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ITC Engage in its First Love Survey 2021 explores the changing language of Love in this New Normal

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, many said and unsaid ‘to do’s and ‘don’ts’ prevail. These are interesting from a sociological point of view and for couples in this very waltz of love. As with every field of life and work, the pandemic and its lockdown didn’t spare the diverse world of romance. Interestingly, while remaining shut indoors, the last year and a half allowed us 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, 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 and behavior 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 direct questions, unravels interesting insights on love, relationships, conversation starters, attraction, virtual v/s real romance, and how these beliefs have changed.

Key Findings

Young individuals and their idea of love and romance 63% 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. There are various means available to continue the affair and keep the spark alive. However, in contrast to the opinion in the non-metros, only 24% of respondents from metro cities felt the same.
Impact of Lockdown on Relationships Lockdown had stressed new relationships – with almost 80% of single /casual daters finding it challenging 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 Life 98% of the total respondents believe virtual romance is entirely different from real romance. Virtual romance is perceived to lack authenticity, is more casual in nature and risky.
Real Life romance wins over Virtual Romance 50% of respondents believe that romance in the virtual world works well for people who are shy/introverted in real life. In comparison, 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 fantasy in the virtual world sometimes could become very dangerous
Romance pre and during COVID-19 In 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 Lockdown The isolation due to the pandemic has helped 85% of the respondents understand meaningful aspects of their relationships. But the lockdown has allowed 84% of the respondents to find new and innovative ways of connecting with their partners.

Romance in this new normal has witnessed a significant shift, but love as an emotion seeks 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 organizing fun virtual dates, enjoying a movie marathon, or a sudden virtual surprise, keeping the connection as accurate as possible is imperative. However, holding hands, walking in the rain, and 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 18-35 years living in metros and non-metros. IPSOS Research Private Limited was surveyed in December 2020.

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