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Brand Story: Is virtual romance comparable to real-life romance?

About 80 percent of single and casual daters are finding it tough to form alliances and initiate new relationships today, revealed a recent Love Survey 2021 conducted by India’s top fragrance brand ITC Engage

By HT Brand Studio
Aug 23, 2021
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The Covid-19 pandemic has raised the stakes for relationships both old and new. Everyone is affected, right from working couples managing remote work, online schooling and housework with limited help to millennials without partners feeling more single than they ever have before. 

For more than a year now, lockdowns and social distancing norms have limited our interactions with the outside world to virtual drinks and weddings over meet-links or, at best, small gatherings in our ‘social bubbles’. As a result, young couples are finding it next to impossible to form new alliances. 

About 80 percent of single and casual daters are finding it tough to form alliances and initiate new relationships today. Furthermore, about 75 percent of respondents felt that starting new relationships has become difficult due to lockdowns. 

These and many others were the findings from a first-of-its-kind “Love Survey 2021”, which offered a fresh perspective on love and romance in the times of lockdown. A vast majority of respondents – as much as 98 percent – felt that virtual romance is far from real-life romance as it lacks authenticity, is casual in nature, and can even prove to be risky. 


The recent survey conducted by India’s top fragrance brand ITC Engage and global market research leader IPSOS, attempted to decode the rules of romance in the new normal that we are adapting ourselves to and the findings offered some interesting insights.

The youth has noticed a change in the very perception of love. During the pandemic, the respondents felt that the word romance is being linked more to negative emotions than positive. For instance, a drop was seen in the association of ‘romance’ to the words ‘being together’ and ‘chemistry’ by 23 percent and 14 percent respectively.

On the contrary, its association with negative emotions like ‘difficult’, ‘anxiety’ and ‘frustrating’ have increased by 25 per cent, 15 per cent and 20 per cent respectively during the Covid-19 pandemic.

But, the change is being felt more in metro cities than non-metros. The new rules of virtual engagement were not being taken well by couples – about 76 per cent respondents from metro cities felt that social distancing us a major hindrance to romance today. In non-metros, about 36 per cent respondents felt that social distancing is not a hindrance to romance these days.


The lockdown is time for serious relationships and long-term commitments for the young generation. About 63 percent of respondents believe in long-term relationships and did not want to settle for casual flings. But, about half the respondents from metros also felt that romance in the virtual world is casual and flirtatious, making it hard to find true love.

46 percent of people went a step further and said this virtual romance can actually prove to be dangerous, as you don’t really know who you are engaging with. About 50 percent of all the respondents felt that this virtual romance is only meant for those who are shy and introvertish in real life.

Even as finding new love was a tricky subject for first-timers, the lockdown came as a blessing in disguise for numerous couples who finally found time for each other minus the distractions of the outside world. The isolation caused by lockdowns and social distancing actually helped 85 percent of the respondents understand the meaningful aspects of their relationship.

For another 84 percent of respondents, the lockdown helped them find new and innovative ways of connecting with their partners, which was a very welcome change from the boring routines they were caught in.

ITC Engage has always celebrated the language of love and the evolving expression of romance and this survey is another attempt to decode the language of love in these trying times.

The “Love Survey 2021” was conducted on 1,199 young men and women aged between 18 and 35 years in December 2020 who were asked pointed questions about their love life and how it has transformed over the past one and a half years. The respondents came from diverse backgrounds and were living in both metro and non-metro cities and the survey was conducted by IPSOS Research Private Limited.

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