Move over, matrimonial websites. People are hunting on dating apps such as Tinder, once known for sparking hookups and one-night stands, to find a life-partner or a long-term partner, ostensibly because the youth find it easier to connect with like-minded strangers having similar interests, personal and professional compatibility.
Tinder and its Indian rivals, Truly Madly and Woo, are getting directly pitted against online matrimonial platforms such as Shaadi.com, JeevanSathi and Bharat Matrimony, which have been in the matchmaking business for a decade and a half.
“On a matrimonial website, there is a lot of pressure to say things immediately… We have always maintained ‘come to Tinder’ to meet interesting people, and a lot of these relationships evolve into dating and marriages,” said Taru Kapoor, head of Tinder India.
Dating, Kapoor said, is relatively a new concept in India, but for millenials who spend a lot of time on smartphones, are now using it to find partners.
The shift can well spell the sad demise of the very purpose of Tinder as a hook-up app.
Shyam Bhat, psychiatrist at Seraniti, and author of “How to heal your broken heart”, agrees — partially. “Indians are using technology to achieve different ends – for both short term relationships and marriages. Technology is doing what our grandparents did: look into our network of people… Dating apps help in psychological compatibility rather than astrological compatibility,” he said.
Truly, Indians are dating in large numbers. That’s a shift from arranged marriages, where someone else decided the life partner. More people like courtship, and they want to make sure they are with the right person. Also, women are getting more voice and want to be with people who respect them, rather than go with a complete stranger chosen by family.
The change has not been overnight. It probably started with senior app users seeking long-term partners based on factors such as music, profession, travel or food, to help start a conversation. “These conversations take their own course… some leading to long-term relations and marriage,” said Sumesh Menon, co-founder and CEO of Woo.
Tinder doesn’t give out user numbers, but Woo and Truly Madly have three million users each. That is a lot, considering that Shaadi.com, the patriarch of virtual matchmaking, has had 35 million members in its long life, of whom four million said they found matches using the site. Jeevansathi has eight million registered users.
“Dating apps positioning them as long-term relation – that’s new to me, as dating apps stop as a discovery platform, which is the first stage... On Shaadi that’s the beginning of the journey,” said Aditya Save, chief marketing officer of Shaadi.com.
On Shaadi, Save said, “Women don’t feel odd about rejecting someone. We are a better mirror how the society and its mindset is today.”
Kapoor feels similarly. “Tinder is a reflection of the society… We find a lot of stories of people getting married, some date and some find friends… The feeling of rejection is very different on Tinder, as you as a woman are in control over the kind of conversation.”