Men Dominate The Online Dating World. Apps Are Trying To Change That.
Hooking up in hope of befriending new people on moving cities and search for a steady relationship are the key reasons why Indians use dating apps. But it’s lopsided in gender balance. Three in every four people seeking intimacy online are men.
“Given the mentality of Indian men, it isn't safe to be on these apps because we haven't prepared our society that way,” Anjali Verma told BloombergQuint. “You have to be very vigilant because it is a big risk and things can go south and really bad.”
Dating apps are introducing new features and marketing themselves as safe spaces for women. Bumble, Tinder and Woo allow only women to make the first move . They have also added features to safeguard a woman's identity and privacy to protect her from stalkers and harassment.
About 3.9 crore Indians have registered on various dating applications, according to research website Statista. More than half the people are between 26 and 31 years in age. Making women feel safe makes sense as dating apps chase users in a nation of half a billion people with smartphones and cheap data.
Women in India were particularly afraid of using dating applications because even if they couldn’t be bombarded on the platform, men could find them on Instagram or Facebook and slide into their direct messages and get a little aggressive, Priti Joshi, director of global strategy at Bumble. The app added a date mode feature in India, which allows women to only show initials instead of full name, letting them decided whether to reveal full identity to a person.
Woo introduced a women-only Woo calling. It lets female users to call their matches without out revealing their mobile number.
Such changes have resulted in a more proactive behaviour among women, Sumesh Menon, chief executive and founder of the homegrown app, said. Initially women would come online and be passive users and wait for likes; now, there is a 3.2 times jump in the number of likes by women themselves, he said.
Tinder has a similar feature called MyMove, which only allows women to start a conversation with another user.
The apps are now making it easy to avoid the most aggressive kinds of harassment, Niyati Shenoy, a user of online dating services, said. “Unless you swipe right on somebody, they don't have the means to contact you unless they are really persistent,” she said. “It’s just a matter of being clever about who you swipe right on and using the apps smartly.”
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