For the longest time, marriages and relationships were facilitated by well-intentioned family members and friends. Some lucky ones may have had chance encounters at an event or during an outing, or have Cupid strike at their workplace. That was till the internet became big, and provided an alternative in the form of online dating.
Websites and apps help users find partners for love, lust, and even Platonic friendships. According to a February survey by Pew Research, 5% of all marriages and committed relationships today stem from online dating. That figure is only expected to grow in the near future. The same research also indicates that using this method in the search for a potential partner is no longer considered a taboo –– more people are doing it, more people are openly talking about it, and even more people are finding success with it.
Lawyer Kanika Singh met her now-fiancé, computer engineer Vishal Karnik, via a dating app. According to her, an unconventional medium allows an individual to be more open and accepting, thus paving the way for a real connection without any familial or social pressure. She says, “After a couple of hits and misses, I understood that the only way to have a real chance at a relationship was by being myself, and by trying to engage with the other individual. Most people forget that. So, suddenly, on the fifth or sixth date, you realise that you are interacting with a stranger.”
Another reason why more people seem to be going in for it, according to another survey, is that online dating tools work to the user’s level of comfort. And there’s so much to choose from. From profiles that are web-based, app-based, swipe-based, substantive, and limited in nature, to those for LGBTQ, kinksters, seniors, and even farmers or beautiful people only — there’s something for everybody out there.
Last month, a poll conducted by Consumers’ Research, an organisation founded in 1929, revealed that well over half of those who use online dating sites and apps say they have ended up in relationships for at least some period of time. And while the prospect of unlimited options remains its biggest advantage, another explanation for the increasing popularity of online dating in India is its gradual acceptance. The arrival of dating apps such as Tinder, eHarmony, TrulyMadly and OkCupid, among others, has resulted in a greater approval of the swipe-for-love approach.
“I know people who are getting married after meeting on Tinder, OkCupid and the like. So, I don’t think online dating is a taboo any longer. I have definitely seen a change in perspective –– from saying ‘yuck’ to Tinder to finally using it and meeting a person face-to-face,” says Sahil Khan, co-founder of Quinto, who has used Tinder and Hinge.
But there is still a scope for improvement. Shrinivas Krishnamurthy believes that this form of dating involves a lot of “hits and misses for guys”. “There’s plenty of waiting, and very few women are willing to engage. Also, the profiles of people on these sites are rarely complete, and most aren’t prompt in replying,” he says. Though Krishnamurthy, who is a service delivery manager at a technology company, says that he has had a few hits in the last couple of years, he still doesn’t think that this medium is widely popular yet. “Any formula needs to be one that focuses on quality, not quantity. There is no benefit to randomly liking every profile you match. There has to be some basis for a connection, and once there is, you must pursue it,” he says.