Where are young Indians looking for love and what is the future of dating apps?
By Melissa Hobley
A report by KPMG in 2016 estimated 107 million unmarried Indians between 18 and 35 years. A different study found that nine in every 10 Indian millennials believe in true love. While it can be argued that numbers don’t tell the whole story, this particular statistic tells the heart of young India — a cohort often unfairly accused of feeling less deeply than generations past. And so, the question remains: where is this young nation looking for love and what makes its quest so different from the earlier generations.
A changing India
India is a rapidly changing landscape of social and cultural realities with no time in recent history as exciting as the present. From witnessing the rise of powerful women in the workforce, to men joining the voices calling out misogyny, the internet/mobile revolution and the resultant access to information have brought about a change in mindset.
Instead of being told what to do, or having other people choose on their behalf, today’s young Indians, particularly women, want to make their own choices based on the connection they share with a person. They are in no hurry to ‘settle down’ or ‘compromise’ until they feel comfortable with their choice. Stories of love these days are filled with the little things that make a bond stronger — the beliefs and values that bring couples together and the quirks that help them maintain their individual identities. What has remained constant over time, however, is seeking a partner to create connections of substance, without the pressure or rush of matrimonial introductions.
Older millennials in particular, who are busy professionals, demand solutions that align with these changes. Dating apps have become popular for prioritising enhanced choice and control, while connecting outside an individual’s immediate circle. We are seeing meaningful connections based on everything, from political ideology and a person’s stance on gender rights, to what an ideal lazy weekend should feel like. In a scenario like this, serious intent-based apps provide a safe space to express individuality, in addition to being an avenue to build meaningful connections based on what matters to each individual. At the other end of the dating app spectrum, apps cater to an individual’s journey of discovery, connecting people based on looser parameters like location and age.
Love, a swipe away
It is clear that the solution lies in catering to individual needs. No one size fits all, especially in love. The thirst for authenticity and unique individuality will continue to grow.
Apps using algorithms that are informed by user answers to a multitude of questions will stand out from the crowd. Every combination of answers would represent a person one can possibly match with, basis the unique combination of values, beliefs, opinions, deal breakers, non-negotiables and quirks one might have. The ultimate goal is to be a voice that celebrates each unique individual and gives them the ability to find the kind of love he/she seeks.
The future, as I see it, is built on the foundation of strong online spaces that place value in positive communities. A dating app is essentially a place to help you find somebody at your wavelength. This unique ability to match people on the things that really matter is already beginning to be the crux of relationships in 21st century India. For a rather large chunk of the millennial population, this new form of dating is a heartening leap out of the ‘restricted zone’ into a safe space where honesty and clarity of intent have taken precedence.
Love is sometimes in the air and a lot more on the internet!
The author is CMO, OkCupid