India has long been a nation of matchmakers. From the village fixer to professional agencies scouting out compatibility between families to the next-door neighbor who knows just the right person for your son or daughter: traditionally, there has always been someone or something ready to marry you off to a 'suitable suitor.'
In a society where marriage is largely still an agreement between families, it's been mostly the parents who have been in charge of the search for a mate, including scouring ubiquitous marriage websites for acceptable candidates. Matrimonial matching is now very well served by the internet, with 1,500 matchmaking websites now targeted at an Indian audience. According to studies carried out by MindShift Metrics, nearly 67% of singles know couples who have met online. Their studies also show that the number of couples who have met online (33%) will rocket up to 70% by 2040.
Gradually, a significant change in the status of women - both worldwide and in India - is beginning to convince even the most rural of families to allow marriages based on choice. And the introduction and growing popularity of dating apps in India is changing the shape of 'finding the One' completely.
As Anupam Mittal, founder of People Group and chief executive officer of Shaadi.com (the world's most successful matrimonial site), puts it:
“With online dating gaining popularity in India, the past few years have seen a surge in dating apps and a growing acceptance among single men and women in urban India.”
Clearly, the Indian dating market needs something very different from what daters in the West are looking for. As such, app developers are constantly looking at new ways to help Desi singles find love, whilst trying to adhere to longstanding restrictions regarding caste and religion. That's not to say that apps like Tinder haven't begun to prove popular too.
Then there's the issue of safety. After all, India is not exactly the safest place to go out and meet a stranger. To that end, a host of new apps are appearing on the market, which not include added security and safety features to protect women in particular, but also the girls wearing the trousers.
We've scoured all of the iPhone dating apps on the market and come up with a definitive list of our favorites for finding love in India.
Indian-based Woo is all about the romance. As its developers state, Woo "is not a dating app that brings random men and women together for a casual date." The focus here is getting real guys and real girls together to form meaningful and REAL relationships.
Woo is aimed at young, urban professionals looking for the real thing: developers U2opia say they screen each application before letting users onto the app, and allow only single people to sign up, keeping out non-serious thrill-seekers. Users can check if they have mutual friends (via Facebook) and are only connected with matches in the same city as them.
The app goes to great lengths to verify candidates, so you know that you're dealing with the genuine article. It rejects roughly 30% of sign-ups each day, in fact, and thoroughly cross-references user profile details with their Facebook and LinkedIn. There's even a feature that lets users report people who they know are married!
Where dating safety and being sure about who's on the other end of a chat is still a concern, TrulyMadly steps up to help Indian-based singles find verified matches who are also looking for love. It has a bright, attractive, and uncomplicated design, and a profile is relatively easy to set up with Facebook or email login. Safety and security starts here: if you haven't been verified, you're restricted to browsing only. For any other activity, your profile must be verified.
Once the required details are filled in, upload pictures if you want and take a few compatibility tests. These activities will help the app to send daily targeted profiles. For professional details, the app has integrated LinkedIn, which saves time and increases your trust score on TrulyMadly.
If you're looking for a long-term Desi lover you can trust, then TrulyMadly may be a good start.
If you have been thinking of venturing into the online dating pool but are hesitant to dive straight in, Masque by Indian-based Nimbuzz is a great way to dip your toe in the water. This neat and minimalist app matches you with a random stranger based on your proximity and lets you chat anonymously.
To get going, you just need to create a screen name, add your mobile number and allow it to use your location, and you're good to go. The app then automatically matches you with the users closest to you and allows you to chat anonymously. You can send stickers and emoji, plus share photos, videos ,and audio messages that self-destruct after they’ve been opened.
If you get bored or things get creepy, just one tap ends the convo, and you’ll never hear from that person again. You can also report abuse for things like annoying messages or indecent media.
Founded in 2012 by US-based developers Josh Israel and Devin Serago, Thrill is an attractive dating app for young Indian professionals, but with a twist: here, women are in charge. Men cannot automatically join Thrill’s network. They have to be voted in by Thrill’s community of women in order to join.
Men can be considered ‘Thrilling’ if they have a normal amount of Facebook friends and interests, plus having a face shot for a profile photo, in addition to being truly single. Once a guy is voted in, he's free to hunt out interesting lady matches.
Thrill could run more smoothly, but it certainly adds some spice to the dating game. Gamified dating with a difference.
DesiCrush is a unique app which connects Desi singles around the world who are looking for love, friendship, or something a little more casual. The app offers the same features as the desktop version, allowing you to fully customize your profile and chat to all potential love-seekers or just the ones you filter to your specs.
The specifics of filling in your profile are pretty well detailed, and DesiCrush allows you to filter out matches and only allow those with your particular requirements to contact you. You can also block nuisance contacts.
Tinder has been known and loved (or indeed loathed) in the West for a good few years now, and India has recently joined the party. And even though Tinder is almost as taboo as the word sex in many parts of India (particularly in rural areas), there's no denying its surging popularity.
Casual, free and easy, no-strings-attached: if you're looking for any of these, then you'll be well served by Tinder. You are just a swipe and a snap judgement away from your next hook-up.