I am about break bro-code—never spill the beans of a girls’-only talk. One of our rather rousing discussions in the cafeteria left me thoroughly amused. It was a near-pissing match about going out with IITians, martial artists, bankers, and graphic designers. As a 20-something adult who has never installed a dating app on her phone, my brain was all over the walls with this talk. On the following hour-and-a-half journey hopping two trains back home, I pondered—Is online dating truly for Indians?
20 years ago someone casually threw it around— they were going to find love online, they could feel critics and cynics bubbling, waiting to boil over! Cut to 2022, and we have several options of dating apps to choose from. I knew phones increased connectivity but highly doubted their ability to make a lasting connection. Disapproving my notions, dating apps have become all the rage in India. For culturally heterogeneous people like us, it’s impossible to predict how we would take to a rather westernized concept of finding a love match. Dating apps have had to walk on eggshells with their messaging for a country that predominantly views casual dating as a no-no.
Dating in Indian society can be analyzed on a scale of adaptable parents to the saree-clad, middle-aged gossip girls at weddings. While I appreciate the former trying to adapt to a younger, more casual way of thinking, I feel for them having to deliberately shrug off the inherent taboo about casual dating without having a marriage prospect in the end. While the latter may seem like the biggest hindrance to online dating and casual relationships, more youngsters have taken to online dating to avoid unnecessary judgment. Talk about the irony! (Source: a rabbit hole of reading through anonymous rants on quora threads)
Initially, I thought the system of hiding behind a screen to find love was cold. Tailored bios and filtered display pictures, sure can be a great hook. But making a love match with the sole purpose of a date leaves no opportunity to get to know one another. You don’t get to really know a person with rose-tinted glasses as you do as friends. India has been akin to finding prospective spouses online, courtesy of websites like Jeevansathi.com, and Shaadi.com for quite some time. While the websites were ahead of their times arguably the usage was still conventional and commitment-based. Criteria like horoscope, religion, caste, physique, and family, were how we filtered through profiles. I warmed up to the concept when I could have a fresher perspective, dating apps offered. From what I learned—a dating app can also help you match with friends, using a friends-only filter. A great start to relationships, if you ask me! For safety, a few dating apps offer women to make the first move. Chat options are disabled for males, allowing women to approach first, and motivating more to take updating online. Two thumbs on that one!
That being said, dating apps are without woes. There’s always the other side of the internet where folks get away with posing as imposters. An affair gone sour brings along the threat of harassment, making intimate messages and photos public. With society being crossed with the idea of dating, seeking help becomes uncomfortable for fear of being judged as even law enforcement is not sensitized to such values.
However, meeting new people expands your horizons to getting to know yourself. It shows you the growth of your character as an individual. While they say marriage completes you, dating has a way of making you self-aware without having to be committed. However, given the restricted society we live in, many youngsters have found solace online. They prefer connecting with potential love interests on a platform without the fear of being judged. But the good ol’ magic of human interaction is unmatched.
Dating apps have already adapted themselves to the Indian demographic. Being mindful to avoid using the word ‘dating’ in a dating app, they have managed to place themselves successfully on the market to avoid the taboo-esque notion, paving their way into the hearts of Indian singles.