Love may not be a top priority for the digital dating community

The dating community online takes one past all the pressures of connecting face to face. Many times, the face to face avenue is not always enough. For those who feel like they can fast-track finding someone special, meeting new people or experimenting with life a little bit – the matchmaking universe is brimming with options. These options aren’t few and far between. The responsibility lies with websites and apps however to create and ensure a secure environment for their members – communities of people who don’t always look at chance to meet people, but go ahead and try and make things happen. Those who are single, want to look beyond conventional dating processes and are confident that the virtual world will give them whatever they are looking for.

Websites like Floh stress on the power of group dynamics to make life happen. They organise group based meetings to ensure the community’s safety and help individuals feel less pressured while connecting with others in the group. Floh’s aim as they say themselves is to “get our members to be in long lasting and loving relationships.” Floh is the perfect example of a dating community which makes it possible for members to meet outside of the app, hence itself helping take interactions to the next level. The start-up describes itself as the internet’s first “phygital dating community” which works to “seamlessly” take interactions offline from an app on people’s phones – by organising events for people to meet and interact at.

This helps do away with the hesitation and trepidation that comes with asking people out on a conventional dating app’s messaging service. Says Siddharth Mangharam, Founder and CEO of a concept that views itself as a mature, coming-of-age version of a dating community, where screening a potential member is an important step in the process of joining the community, “The concept was inspired by how my wife and I met. It was beautiful. We met at a gathering and bonded over a discussion on blue cheese! That’s when we realised that perhaps we could help others like us meet in the same way. We realised that maybe there was a need in the market for a dating service that organises meet-ups for singles in a city. That’s how we came up with Floh. We bonded over discussions on our travels and other similar interests we both shared. That kind of serendipitous meeting, the way it happened with us, helped us see that maybe we could help create that kind of environment for other like-minded individuals to meet too. We are also using a lot of technology in our matching algorithms, and then we create situations where people can bond based on interests, by putting them together at events where those interests are likely to surface – for example, wine-tasting events, book readings, treks and poetry jams.”

For now the online dating community has been formed primarily within vastly popular dating apps such as Tinder and Badoo. Their popularity suggests that millions of people are willing to let strangers into their lives and are quite comfortable having stray interactions with others within the community. Other start-ups like Life of Line have brought to India concepts like speed dating where individuals spend a few minutes chatting before moving on to the next person. In an age where social media seems to have eaten away at personal connections and person to person communication, to some extent, initiatives like Life of Line seek to once again bring back the excitement of meeting someone in person, back to the fore. Dating apps in the new millennium are thus trying to take over from where your mom left off. Being the new parent in town, letting you feel like royalty as requests for chats and dates pour in every day. The volume of people wanting to know each other can be sizeable given the number of people within any given dating community.

Vikrant Sharma (name changed), a resident of Kodaikanal is very selective about the kind of people he would like to go out with, especially the ones he meets on dating apps. In his own words, he is affectionate, kind and giving and wants to be able to share his passions with someone he thinks will be great company. However, today, after having been a member of a few dating apps like Bumble, Aisle and Tinder, he says he is slightly put off by the apparent frivolousness of the apps. He says, “The advantage of all these dating apps is that you can meet people easily. You’re like a kid in a candy store. However, when you are a member of two or three such apps, with so many options of people to choose from, you can get side-tracked often, since people are talking to so many possible dates at one time. Thus the whole purpose of meeting one person is defeated. You may never come down to achieving the goal (of meeting that special person) since there are thousands of options. Nobody wants to take it to the next level. Relentless dating leads nowhere. I’m still single. Moreover, no one wants to invest the time to know just one person.”

Pune resident Jaydeep Shetty (name changed) dreams of venturing into the dating app business in the country, by launching his very own dating app soon. Shetty spent a few months online on various apps trying to figure out the “pain points” and gaps in the business, wondering about where he could step in and fill those gaps. He speaks about how men aren’t able to express their feelings and how women are unable to trust the men out there. It’s probably why the ratio of men to women on the apps is skewed towards the men’s side. Shetty’s own inspiration behind wanting to enter into the business of it all, is none other than Bollywood. He thinks there’s a reason why “silly romantic films and books” are bestsellers – it’s maybe because we Indians love mushy movies and grand love stories with rebellion, drama, intensity and miraculous reunions of lovers who were separated due to gross misunderstanding and as a result of the evil schemes of jealous people who couldn’t bear to see them together. Observes Shetty, “Most of the guys in the community were trying to impress the women through their photoshopped pictures. Not many seemed to be expressing themselves through words – by showing the other who they really are by actually communicating with the women. I think verbal communication (or written in this case) is very important if one wants to find the right match.”

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