The dark side of dating apps- it’s not always about the right match

With Facebook all set to enter the dating apps arena, old-timers like Tinder will be forced to clean up their act

We are living in a jet-set-go world where we want everything fast –  fast cars, fast food, fast updates even fast love. Long gone are the days of waiting, approaching and courting. Be it one-off dating, long-term dating or marriage, millennials today want to skip the drills and go straight to the frills.

At their disposal are a plethora of dating apps which offer them a world of plentiful opportunities. It’s their own private den, where photos, lifestyle and common interests decide whether you are a left swipe or a right. Online dating is now a booming business with millions of app downloads, tailor-made services and paid subscriptions.

It’s been five years since the trend started in India and it’s only picking pace. So while it may all look nice and fun from the outside, there is the whole other side to it which nobody talks about loudly. To understand how the dating world has changed over the years, Piplsay reached out to over 31000 people across the country and this is what we found out.

Shhh.. are you there?

Indians are increasingly experimenting with their personal lives, despite the constant cultural spotlight on them. 6 out of 10 people surveyed said that they use dating apps, with youngsters in the age group of 25-34 comprising almost half the numbers. Among those who use the apps over 50% people seem to be quite active on it.

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While casual dating seems to be the top reason to be on dating apps, a good 28% people seem to be on it out of curiosity. This is mostly because dating as a concept is still alien to the country and platforms like these are often looked upon with suspicion. But this very fact brings us to the not-so-happy happenings within the dating world 

The dark underbelly

While on the one hand dating apps are seen as providing the much-needed privacy and control to users, on the other they have become a hotbed for online harassment. Men have always outnumbered women on these platforms from the beginning and still continue to do so.

Almost 57% of people surveyed by Piplsay seem to have faced harassment more than once. For female users especially, dating apps can be like walking on a minefield, never know what will blow up. It could be an onslaught of messages from someone who may want to befriend them or someone they may have agreed to meet up once but may wish to avoid them later. There have also been cases of rejected men creating fake profiles and posting provocative messages on behalf of innocent girls.

Besides harassment, more than 7 out of 10 users said that they have been propositioned to on these dating apps, sometimes very often

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These unwanted proposals are a major deterrent for those who are genuinely interested in dating someone. Yet, this is also the very reason that keeps attracting the other kind of crowd – youngsters who want to make a quick buck and escort agencies who use it for their business. Today dating apps have gone beyond just being a simple meeting ground for youngsters to being an active platform for such nefarious activities. The fact that more than half of the respondents agreed to it points towards this growing trend.

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But why is this so-called trade flourishing despite dating sites’ claims to have put measures in place to check harassment and misuse? For one, most of these apps are free. So any interested person can start an account and explore the dating arena. As a result what we have is a mix of genuine users, plenty of fake profiles and also people of all ages who are just looking for some fun.

Over 60% youngsters in the age group of 18-34 said that they come across older men and women on dating apps very often

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India has a massive youth population which makes it one of the biggest untapped markets for online dating. They are even giving a tough competition to matrimonial sites with many taking to dating apps to find their partners.

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Yet, dating apps need a healthy gender diversity to survive. Already apps are struggling to get women to sign up as they feel uncomfortable with the overwhelming attention they get from the male users. Add to that these unwanted activities which only makes it tough to break the mold as indicated by the number of respondents who were forced to quit these apps.

If dating appswant to succeed in India, they have to do more than just adding filters and layers. They need to go back to what they were originally meant to be –  a platform for single young people to meet their right match. If not, new entrants like Facebook with its ‘time well spent’ agenda may just about seize this opportunity and signal their end.

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