Friendships and sex have taken a beating over the past year. No wonder youngsters fled homes as soon as the lockdown restrictions eased and headed straight to meet their friends whose company they had been craving for months.
Quite surprisingly, sex is not the uppermost in their minds. They want to be among their peers and social groups that they have been starved of in the past one year. Those already in a relationship are as keen to meet their partner as friends of the same sex. They want to vent out their frustration, feel normal and unwind.
Interestingly, those on dating apps are not necessarily looking for hookups. They just want a platonic relationship.
Dating apps such as Tinder and Bumble, which are launching or acquiring new services focused entirely on making and maintaining friends.
“There’s a really interesting trend that has been taking place in the connection space, which is this desire to have platonic relationships,” said Bumble founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd, The Indian Express (TIE) reported quoting Reuters.
“People are seeking friendship in ways they would have only done offline before the pandemic.”
Her company is investing in its Bumble BFF (best friends forever) feature, which it said comprised about 9% of Bumble’s total monthly active users in September 2020 and “has room to grow as we increase our focus on this space”.
Arch rival Match Group, the owner of a string of apps including Tinder and Hinge – is also pushing beyond love and lust. It paid $1.7 billion this year for South Korean social media firm Hyperconnect, whose apps let people chat from across the world using real-time translation.
Hyperconnect’s revenue jumped 50% last year, while Meetup, which helps you meet people with similar interests at local or online events has seen a 22% rise in new members since January, the report added.
Meetup’s most searched word this year was “friends”.
‘FRIENDS FOR MORE THAN A YEAR’
Such friendship services have experienced increased engagement from users since COVID-19 restrictions have gradually been lifted around the world, allowing people to meet in person, according to Evercore analyst Shweta Kharjuria, who said that it made sound business sense to court more customers.
“This opens up the total available market from targeting only singles to singles and married people,” she was quoted as saying by Reuters.
Nupur, a 25-year-old teacher from the city of Pune in western India who uses both Tinder and Bumble, was quoted as saying the apps efforts to promote themselves as a way of finding friends rather than just hook-ups, and love “could work very well”.
“I’ve met a couple of people online and we’ve met up and have been friends for more than a year now”.