However, it has also led to serious crimes and the Pune police have suggested extreme caution while using such apps.
A 29-year-old IT employee, who has been using various dating apps for a few years, said, “Old school I may be, I did not expect to form serous connections through platforms such as these earlier. But since last year, I started using them again, and I find people now want to invest their time in more meaningful conversations. Since socialisation has been curtailed due to the Covid situation, users have been taking these platforms more seriously.”
But the world of online dating has several pitfalls. Police inspector Machindra Pandit of cyber crime police station said, “Many crimes, especially blackmailing and cheating, have taken place through different dating apps. We have received many complaints about such crimes. People generally share their phone numbers after chatting briefly on the dating app. The victims don’t know if the person they are chatting with is a man or a woman. Fraudsters generally upload fake photographs, and then pose as women on these apps. After obtaining their phone numbers, crooks cheat men by either telling lies about their poor health or loss of job owing to the pandemic. Some fraudsters have told men to pose nude on video calls and blackmailed them. We have received complaints regarding 150 such cases in the city,” he said.
Over the last year, as single Indians continued to navigate virtual and socially-distanced dating etiquettes, different approaches to relationships evolved in this new environment. “We’ve observed a 38% rise in the use of video calls and voice chats, with 50% of them turning into something more meaningful.
Our recent nationwide survey also revealed that about 40% of single Indians have opted for virtual dating in 2021, with one in three hoping to see themselves in a committed relationship by the end of 2021,” said Samarpita Samaddar, communications director, Bumble India, adding, “Around 50% of our users are likely to be new dawn daters (people who are newly single after experiencing a break-up during the Covid-19 pandemic). While 46% said that the biggest driver of breakups was the inability to see a partner, 29% said that the pandemic played a role in aggravating the issues with their partners.”
Singles are now going on more “pre-dates” (online) to get to know one another before meeting in person. “Online dating does not mean fast-dating. Instead, many people prefer to take it slow because of all the ‘virtuality’ involved. I took my time and conversed with another user I met on the platform to know him before meeting him in person in February this year,” said a 32-year-old business consultant.
Urban Indians are moving beyond the conventional expectations of marriage and exploring unconventional relationships such as live-in, long-distance or even non-labelled companionship, but with focus on compatibility for the long haul.
“We want our users to set their relationship expectations upfront. Users see a detailed description about their match’s personality, inclination towards romance and intimacy, values towards family, financial priorities, interest in health and fitness etc to find a match best suited to their lifestyle,” said Shalini Singh, founder, Andwemet.