When 20-something Aradhana (name changed) moved to Chennai, she was quite excited about her dream job and the independence to live her life the way she always wanted to.
The only thing she was missing in her life was a good friend. She then happened to browse through a website that promised to help her make new friends in the city.
“In the process of finding a friend, I found a date for myself. It all started with nice, warm text messages — the guy seemed to be a great person on the virtual dating platform, but when I met him in person, his personality didn’t match the text messages he used to send. From my end, it was just a genuine friendship. I had not hidden anything from him, but he hid everything from me — his family background, religion and even his work. I came to know the reality only after getting married to him. It all happened so fast. Within six months of knowing each other,we decided to marry against the will of my parents, and it didn’t last more than four months,” recalls the 37-year-old woman. Aradhana found herself in a complete mess — she was beaten until she bled, and was mentally and physically abused every moment by her husband. She says, “He lost his job three months after the marriage and was also an alcoholic. His parents used to send pastors to pray for me. He used to come to my workplace, and that made my living in the city impossible. I wish I had never gone to that dating website.”
However, today, she is happily married with a five-year-old son. She adds, “The irony is, I
met my present husband on a digital platform as well. It wasn’t easy to go about it initially.We both met on a trekking club’s Facebook page. My parents were sceptical about the match because I found love again on a digital platform. It took us a year time to convince my parents, who were more terrified than me to agree to this marriage. But I am glad that I took that leap of faith.”
In a generation, where people want everything to be available at just the swipe of their finger, there are several dating sites and handy mobile phone apps available in the play store. When 26-year-old Vanita (name changed) saw that most of her friends were either getting married or having babies, she decided it was time she at least found herself a date. She downloaded a dating app, but faked her personal details. “I set my location as
London instead of Chennai. I came across a lot of spammers, creeps and online abusers, but I did meet a likeminded person. I received a chat request from a 20-year-old based in Manchester, England. We became really close while chatting, but I came to know later that he is a Pakistani, born and brought up in UK.”
Abishek Muthian, an expert in developing artificial intelligence, has recently launched ‘FindDate’, a chat app network dating platform. “People have no time; they want everything to be sorted out as quickly as possible. Within two months of its launch, there are nearly 50,000 users in our chat app. Majority of them fall in 25-34 years of age and 51 per cent of them are women. The major demographies include India sub-continent,
South East Asian countries and the US,” he says, adding, “The dating platform that I’ve developed works inside existing chat apps like Facebook Messenger, Viber, LINE and Telegram, and doesn’t require any download or registration. Users don’t have to disclose
origin, gender, race or age; they are free to choose their match within those parameters if they like. All that is required to date is the user’s profile picture. A user can message another user only when they ‘like’ the former’s display picture. No user can spam another user even if they have ‘liked’ each other. If the user is inactive for more than 24
hours, the profile is made inactive automatically and the user is not shown to other users.”
However, 26-year-old Mohammed Hafiz, who works in the education sector, says that the idea of downloading dating apps or registering on any such website terrifies him. “I met my first love on a dating site. She was 18 then and studying in a college.We chatted for
eight months before we decided to meet each other. We had shared a lot of details about each other. So when we met, it was like we had known each other for a very long time. I met her mother, who approved of our relationship, but his brother refused to accept us. We were together for three years but had to separate as no one was happy. I’ve been wary of finding love on online platforms because I think that if I had met her first instead of falling in love in the virtual world, we would have probably made a wiser decision right in the beginning of our relationship,” he concludes.