With technology maneuvering itself into every aspect of our lives, it isn’t surprising that the love of your life could now be a mere text or swipe away.
As unconventional as online dating may seem to the older generations, it has picked up tremendously among the youth of the country.
For dating apps to garner more acceptance in the Indian family setup, they have had to use their knowledge of Indian cultures and societal norms, which is not always easy for foreign dating apps. On the other hand, homegrown dating apps have revolutionized how people find love in India, and here’s how they’ve done it.
Evolution Of Dating In India
The concept of dating took a relatively long time to be embraced by Indian society – let alone online dating – primarily due to the widespread prevalence of arranged marriages.
It has always been challenging to find a romantic partner for oneself. Yet, in India, family members, relatives, or priests usually intervene in the process to play match-makers for those seeking love.
With the introduction of dating apps like Tinder in 2016, this culture has seen a decline. Instead, the individual is more in control of the prospective marriage and takes it upon themselves to introduce the marriage candidates to their family.
There are some significant differences between the users in western countries and those in India. The most noteworthy is that an exceeding number of Indian users are on the lookout for long-term relationships rather than casual hookups.
Research conducted by the dating app Woo in the year 2018 revealed that from the surveyed 20,000 Indians, 38% of the users look for meaningful relationships, 28% look for ways to socialize after moving to a new city, and 17% of the users want to expand their social circles.
Now, the online dating industry has picked up, and India has emerged as the third-largest revenue generator, after the US and China. The increase in users on these apps is a clear indication that more people are opening up to the idea of finding partners online.
Indian Online Dating Apps
Bringing an online dating app into Indian society is challenging because relationships are no simple union between two individuals here. Customizing these apps to make them more desirable to the cultural aspects and other desires that Indian users may have has been the obstacle.
For instance, apps are increasingly trying to cater to the requirements of women in relationships. However, no matter how progressive we believe our society to be, women still want to ensure specific criteria in a relationship, such as wanting to continue work after marriage and how they would like their partner to respond to such a situation.
Foreign dating apps were the first to create buzz about online dating in India but soon lost their market share to Indian dating apps.
Truly Madly is one such Indian app that has succeeded in capturing more users by promoting itself as an app that helps find long-term relationships.
But they focus on catering to both users wanting casual dates and those looking for prospective marriages, making it a competitor on both ends.
Aisle is another Indian online dating app that claims to focus more on ‘romance over flings’ and allows people of Indian origin across the globe to connect and establish meaningful relationships.
Aisle has emerged as a real competitor for those in the industry and has gained more downloads than the dating app Bumble, making it the second most popular dating app in India.
In an interview with Forbes India, Aisle’s CEO Able Joseph described how their app competes with foreign dating apps.
According to him, “Users start with a casual dating app that makes them accustomed to online networking, and then they look for additional customization and cultural nuances. This is when they make the shift to homegrown match-making platforms to look for meaningful, long-lasting relationships”.
How have these online dating apps changed the dating scene in India? These apps have actually benefitted women the most because they have taken control of their love life and become more independent.
Dating apps have also revolutionized how romance can override factors of segregation by connecting people of different backgrounds and communities in India, such as the LGBTQIA+ community, and those from urban and rural settings. But, it is not particularly common in rural areas as of now.
These apps have also become quite helpful in forming connections with people during a pandemic, as more people transitioned towards online dating.
Research suggests that people were more inclined towards expanding their circle during the first half of the lockdown but kept shorter conversations with those they matched.
Whereas towards the second half of the pandemic, people began to look for more meaningful conversations.
Challenges Faced By Users Of Online Dating Apps
Although the popularity of these apps has increased exponentially over the years, these online dating apps have their fair share of hurdles.
While romance is now at the tip of one’s fingers, so is the ability to deceive people online and appear to be someone you are not.
People on dating apps have found ways to make themselves more appealing to other users, even if this means outright lying and exaggeration.
Truly Madly has tried to address this issue by introducing a concept of gaining ‘trust points’ on the app for users who verify contact information, identity proofs, and social network verification. But this method is also susceptible to falsified details, so it is advisable to be cautious on these apps.
These apps also suffer from a considerable gender gap as there are more men than women on these dating platforms. According to the same survey conducted by Woo, only 26% of users on these apps are women!
However, online dating has undoubtedly revolutionized the way people now find partners for themselves. And unlike the conventional methods of finding partners, online dating has allowed for greater re-structuring of the idea of marriage and relationships in India.
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