Opinion

Dating like a Millennial: Youth drive social acceptability with online dating

Melissa Hobley
8th Feb 2019
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India is well on its way to becoming one of the youngest countries, with over a third of its population - 400 million - born after 1982, according to a report published by IRIS Knowledge Foundation in collaboration with UN-HABITAT (State of the Urban Youth, India 2012: Employment, Livelihoods, Skills).

Another report by KPMG states that there are more than 100 million unmarried Indians between 18 to 35 years of age.

In a world where transactions happen at the click of a button, and the information is available at our fingertips, millennials are extending the luxury of choice and specificity to their relationships. They want to be the ones in control of their dating lives and connect with people on the things they really care about, making apps that match you on what matters to you increasingly popular.

However, over the last decade, dating apps have gone from being a place of experimentation or curiosity to a socially acceptable avenue for finding long-term relationships. With self-awareness growing with each passing year, millennials today are actively seeking out services that focus on giving them something more substantial - a platform to connect with someone who share similar interests and views.

However, what has remained constant over time, whether in India or abroad, is seeking a partner who understands your values and quirks.

Dating apps recognise this and use data to allow for more serendipities than the offline world can offer. Apps like OkCupid use insightful questions to inform machine learning-based algorithms about a user’s preferences and deal breakers to introduce them to matches compatible with their personalities. This data, informed by the users themselves, takes on a task traditionally reserved for family and friends -- connecting people based on deeper things like beliefs and interests, instead of just a photo and location. With a neutral platform comes the total suspension of judgement - one can be their true self and proudly state relationship expectations without the fear of social blowback or stigma.

Also, dating apps are able to cater to every type of relationship, and not just heteronormative expectations. Sex, gender, identity and preference can be shared directly, and the algorithm presents more relevant and effective matches. The consciously long process of signing-up and celebration of individual stories have now made AI powered dating apps a place to seek meaningful relationships.

Urban millennials today have dating experiences earlier in life, and that makes them much savvier and clear about their expectations. Dating apps that let you ask and answer the right questions that help define them, therefore become a smart and relevant way to meet people and spark meaningful conversations that can potentially become lasting connections.

The effects of this approach are evident in the increasing social acceptability of finding long-term partners online. What was once a covert exercise layered with guilt or shame is now considered an effective way to meet like-minded people with the genuine intention of making connections! As people speak more openly about meeting their partners online, this is only going to become more prevalent in the mainstream.

That being said, there might be risks of online dating, but they are much the same as offline dating. What is most important is to make sure you keep your wits about you and not share your personal and financial information, as well as be web-wise to immediately report any suspicious or abusive activity.

And while it’s still early days for dating apps in India, we expect to see them create just as many more relationships and marriages over time as they have in the West. As more young people turn to dating apps to find love and companionship, we also expect to see the Indian society evolve into one that is more accepting of the reality that there is more to a person than just their photo.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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