How online dating has come a long way in India

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India is, in fact, projected to be one of the fastest growing markets for online dating applications, worldwide.
India is, in fact, projected to be one of the fastest growing markets for online dating applications, worldwide.

Two business rivals who despise each other in real life unwittingly fall in love over the internet.” This is the basic plot of the 1998 Hollywood rom-com You’ve Got Mail.

Online dating has come a long way since then. With various dating apps crowding the digital space, “swipe, meet, repeat” may be the new go-to move by the millennials.

Many Indians are swiping right to register a “like” or left to skip ahead to the next one. India is, in fact, projected to be one of the fastest growing markets for online dating applications, worldwide.

“I met Rishi through Tinder. But Tinder becomes My Bar when we tell our story,” says Tanushree K (all names have been changed to protect privacy), a Bengaluru-based communications officer. It may just be the stigma of meeting through social media that drive Tanushree and Rishi to tweak their story, but you can hardly blame them.

App-based dating, however, is yet to go full-throttle in India. With the country’s annual spending on marriage-related services standing at $57 billion, according to KPMG — and with more than 100 million unmarried Indians aged between 18 and 35 — a growing number of entrepreneurs are betting that they can win a share of the spoils by pushing Indian courtship into the digital age.

While there are a flurry of apps like Tinder, Vee, TrulyMadly, Happn and OKCupid which use geotagging, algorithms and math to determine who is a good match within seconds, the concept, quite different from social networking platforms because of the fact that they have been specifically designed for dating people, is picking up pace quite slowly.

Some who are not privy to the workings of online dating are reluctant to try it because of security reasons and a general assumption that people you meet online aren’t as genuine as people you meet in person.

“It’s for the socially awkward people… those who are desperate for attention,” says Raghav Parashar, a Delhi-based IT professional. “Finding someone through an app that studies psychological and personality traits? I would rather go to a bar and talk to people face-to-face.”

Yes, coming out of the smartphones and having conversations over a cup of coffee is the urgent call of the day but this has not deterred the matchmaking apps.

With an estimated 50 million downloads worldwide, Tinder leads the bandwagon. Launched in 2016 in India, the location-based social search app has met with contradictory reactions. Although young Indians are defying family and society by using smartphone apps to meet partners, the long-term goal tend to differ.

Shruti Bhasin is a Tinder user who has no intentions of finding her significant other online. Then why use Tinder? “It is just a time-pass. I don’t think I’ll ever get married to someone I met online. My parents would not be happy either,” says Bhasin, 24, an assistant manager at a Mumbai-based PR firm. Bhasin downloaded Tinder last year which helped her find 12 guys with matching algorithms. “I swipe left most of the time, but if I see someone interesting, there’s no harm in chatting up

To Date, or Not to Date

But this is not Ankit Kothari’s plan. “I’ve been single for way too long now. If nothing is working out the “conventional way”, why not try the app way,” grins Kothari, a 29-year-old fitness instructor in Delhi. “Dekho bhai, milna hai toh kahi bhi mil jayenge,” says Kothari, adding how he met Rashmi through Vee and are happy with gym sessions, movies, and dinners. “Abhi koi kabootar toh hai nahi meri chitthi le jane ke liye, toh Tindering hi sahi.”

But the internet can be too ambiguous sometimes and looking for a significant other online can bring its fair share of risks with it. Anonymous browsing which enables strangers looking through your profile and personal information may seem to be a little dicey. Personal background check can be one of the parameters to check this drawback but the magnitude of the app usage makes it ineffable to understand.

“I met this guy who posed as a multimedia editor in TrulyMadly. After a few chat sessions, we decided to meet up, says Tanya B, a 22-year-old student in Delhi University. “10 minutes into the date and I realised it was not what I was expecting. I kept texting my roommate the entire time, while he bragged about how he plans to join his father’s business tie and dye business after he’s done “hooking up with girls”.

“This another time I met an IT professional and hoping he was not a stinker as the first one, we decided to meet at a coffee shop,” Tanya says, adding how that date turned out to be a silent session as they ran out of common topics of interests. “It was an awkward date, I made a super lame excuse and got out of it. Never heard back from him,” laughs Tanya.

Over the years, now it is a given that online dating has never been for the frail-hearted. There are high chances you’ll be dished out what you are not expecting. One has to take this chance and see who is on the other side.

“What’s the harm in trying? You anyway meet someone for the first time, why not meet that someone online,” says Ajith Kumar, a 29-year-old freelance photographer from Chennai. “The point of online dating is simply to create a medium for you, you are not at gun-point to marry the first person you see.” Fair point. Ajith met Trishala on Tinder in 2016 and after 2 days of chatting, they met over coffee, coffee turned to family dinners and are now planning a winter wedding this year.

No Reservations!

The median age in the world is around 26-30 years. And most of the dating apps cater to an audience under-30 and 40. But what about the rest? InterActiveCorp (IAC), an American media and internet company, that also owns Tinder and OKCupid, started in 2011 for 50-and-over singles looking to date. OurTime dating: #1 App for Flirting, Messaging, and Meeting Local Single Senior Men and Senior Women — reads the app’s description page.

“Why should I be shy or why should it be awkward?” asks New York-based banker 51-year-old, mother of two, got divorced been single till she met Martin Holland nature. I’m not looking for a fling but connect with, for the long run,” says Holland, a 54-year-old former firefighter through OurTime. Both are in a stable relationship and are in no hurry to get married. “We go fishing and kayaking, and we are happy doing just that,” concurs Hans.

Jimmy Shimray, 27, a model from Manipur, is a social media enthusiast who has already exhausted his friend requests’ limit in Facebook and his Instagram is flooded with his own pictures — posing, pouting and posting. An openly gay man in a country where Section 377 is still under the scanner, Jimmy doesn’t shy away from his Tinder usage nor his sexuality.

“It’s for flings, what else,” grins Shimray. “I see a hot guy, I swipe right… I chat up and I hook up.” One cannot and should not expect much from social media or dating apps, he adds. “Dating apps are simple tools which let you flick through profiles. If it clicks, initiate a conversation — and possibly more.”

Appily Ever After?

But not all online dating stories have to end up with a one night stand. As of 2016, Tinder had a staggering to 9.6 million daily active users, accounting for some 1.4 billion swipes per day. Interestingly, a recent Tinder survey found that 80% of users are seeking more than a one-night stand — a highly engaged audience.

Like a good old Hollywood flick, Thailand-based Sasha met Delhi’s Andy in a Yahoo Messenger chatroom in 2002. Then an art student in Thailand, Sasha and Andy’s chats went on for four long years, and gradually their chats turned to webcam sessions and Andy finally managed to visit Sasha in Bangkok. “He looked very different in person,” laughs Sasha. “Back then, internet chats, was very new in Thailand, or India for that matter. Not everyone had the time, money or resource to indulge in online chatting sessions,” she adds.

Bracing oppositions, the couple finally got married in 2006. “We found love, regardless of our socioeconomic background or location. That’s how it works I guess,” revels Sasha as she tends to her son recuperating from a fever at their Delhi home.

Fairly new to the online dating space is Gleeden, a French online dating community, and social networking service. And as controversial as it may sound, Gleeden exclusively deals in extra-marital dating — to create a secure and anonymous space for people seeking affairs outside their relationships.

It, apparently, focusses on the small but growing community around the world which is challenging a foundation construction of society: that a monogamous marriage is the only way to have a fulfilling long-term relation.

Seems like a long-shot to establish itself in India — a country which considers infidelity a sin, but has already garnered over 1,00,000 subscriptions. As stated by Gleeden, “In an age where divorce is 40-60% among newlyweds and 33% among those married for 10 years, many times extramarital affairs can intervene as therapy for a couple. Gleeden is a facilitator of confidence where married couples can disregard the taboo and explore their desires safely.”

Matrimonial sites like and have established themselves as the ideal matchmakers in India, however, they can hardly be considered as “dating apps”. “According to my parents, registering in is fine, but meeting someone through Tinder is not. Talk about hypocrisy here,” says Bhanu Kaushal.

Working with a private bank, Kaushal is “running out of time” to get married, according to his mother. “I’m 31 and single. This is enough fodder for my family to hunt for a wife. My mother herself made my profile in, without bothering to ask for my consent.” He is currently seeing a girl he met on TrulyMadly and hopes it clicks for them as a couple, and is not a waste of time and energy for either.

“My resolution for 2018 is to switch from Tinder to,” jokes Akash Kumar, a Delhi-based techie. “Winged Cupid’s painted blind. Organic or online, how does it matter?”

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