More and more young people, especially in urban areas, are dating as a way of meeting up. There are many dating apps available, but how effective are they in India?
Recently, a friend of mine called me up talking excitedly about a dating app. Like any typical single Indian woman (especially if single for 'too long'), tired of the constant nagging by family and society in finding a partner (the 'sole purpose' of a woman), tired of the typical matrimonial sites or 'well-wishers' who decide the 'right' partner based on odd factors, loneliness created by the lack of good companions ('all of my friends got married!'), desperation and guilt about not being able to find a compatible life partner and unable to move forward in life without one (sadly, many women still define themselves by the man they have in life), my friend was understandably excited about the dating app.
It is a good thing that our country, ((though still limited to the modern, urban and educated), is opening up to the new age ways of dating in finding companionship and relationships, based on mutual compatibility, interests, values, dreams and wants of an individual rather than the traditional ‘match-making criteria’, and is realizing the importance of true compatibility in a relationship than fixing a marriage.
Women to men ratio
Having myself used many of the apps and websites, I could find that the ratio of women to men on these platforms is very small. Even though these platforms are trying to market it as more freedom and empowerment to women, the number of women signing up for online dating is still low.
Then there is the undeniable creepiness factor. At least in India (in my experience), one can’t avoid the existence of creepy, clingy and dangerous men lurking around almost anywhere, which a woman needs to deal with constantly in our society. Did I forget to mention about the married men signing up on these dating platforms? Yes, you heard me right.
How safe is it?
Another concern is the security. Though the apps claim and advertise it to be safe and secure, how safe does someone feel, especially women, when the screenshots of pictures can be saved on the device (though some apps now have added counter-measures for that)? More importantly, when one needs to share their personal data, like the need to use your Facebook account on such a public platform? This is considering that this is the age of digital stalkers, though the marketers claim that there are measures implemented for security?
Virtual v/s real
Another factor is the virtual nature of the relationships built on such online platforms. Many signing up on these just prefer to keep the relationship behind the curtains of the internet, with no interest in meeting in person or real relationships being formed. It is just used to scratch the itch to talk or chat with someone.
Then comes the social stigma attached to dating that is still prevalent in the society when it comes to choosing one’s own companion or partner. So, after a while of ‘modern’ dating, the daddy’s girls and mama’s boys finally go the traditional way of ‘fixing’, for a serious and real relationship.
The problem is our very definition of dating and the expectations attached to it. And the culture and mindset of our society. From my own personal experience, and also as pointed out by the author of this article, dating itself is quite complicated in India. We consider ourselves to be modern, would love to pronounce so to others, but in fact, lead a dual life of lie that is pretty much narrow-minded and with no moral codes. We have our own definition of modernism and conservatism – which is, in fact, the very problem for many people in finding a compatible partner, be it through dating or otherwise.
Then comes the expectation part. Generically classifying, the kind of people one meet on such online platforms are –
the ones tired of traditional match-making,
desperately looking for partners via dating to tie the knot,
the ones having some fun time around,
some for casual relationships,
and a few looking for real companions
It is when the mismatching categories meet that the expectation fails and dating becomes ineffective. As mentioned earlier, a good percentage of people using such platforms are the married ones. Once I was seeing a man who ‘conveniently’ forgot to mention that he had a wife and while in the middle of a dinner with him, I saw him chatting on one of apps with two other girls simultaneously!
So, given this existing situation in our society, how can one effectively date?
Personally, I still believe in the traditional methods of dating, something that in fact, actually worked for me. Go out in the real world to meet real people and make real relationships rather than limiting yourself to the virtual world of apps or sites. Go out to social gatherings and events in your place, like in Meetup and Couchsurfing, and get to meet real people in such places. Also, get yourself involved in the activities and causes you care about or are passionate about, and meet people who really share your same interests. Even if things may not work out as a great date with them, you might end up having great friendships with many.
Dating is still a new concept to many in the country, and people have their own definition of it. So, get your expectations and priorities clear first. Decide where you draw your lines. Dating means different things to different people, but never forget what it means to you and what you want out of it. So stick to it, no matter what.
As with anything else, before using any online platforms or apps, check the reviews, do your homework, and choose wisely.
Always trust your gut feeling or intuition, in any situation. If something or someone does not feel right or is not comfortable with, walk out of it. Have the courage to let go of the relationships that doesn’t work for you.
Take it slow. Never get desperate. Never define yourself by the person you have in your life or will have. And don’t keep holding off your life for the right person to come in. Everything will fall in place in its right time, as destined in your path of life.