Tamil Nadu: Dating apps are becoming popular in smaller cities, but experts urge caution

Are you looking for a casual date? Or, are you in that stage of life where you are contemplating a long-term relationship? Or, you are still wondering what dating means.

Published: 07th January 2018 03:19 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th January 2018 07:47 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

TIRUCHY: Are you looking for a casual date? Or, are you in that stage of life where you are contemplating a long-term relationship? Or, you are still wondering what dating means. There are many millennials still dazed and confused about the very meaning of the word ‘dating’, but are too willing to pursue it.

For them, it’s technology that offers a helping hand. Replacing the more well-known online platforms, dating apps are becoming popular. There seems to be a fascination for these apps among both youngsters and middle-aged people.

Though there has been a craze for these applications in bigger cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Bengaluru, of late, they have penetrated into tier II cities as well. “I used a dating app as I was curious to know how it worked. Towns like Pondicherry showed many results. Even though in Tiruchy, there were not as many users as Chennai or Pondi, I found people using it and for sure, there are more to come,” said M Anto, a resident of Tiruchy.

There are numerous dating apps that are popular in India. Apps like Tinder, TrulyMadly, Woo, OKCupid, Hinge and HookedUp, to name a few, are being commonly used. The prime reason for their popularity, especially in smaller cities, is the  anonymity they offer in a traditional environment. Many of the users feel liberated being on an online platform.

With youngsters from tier II cities getting exposed to social media, there is always the possibility of stumbling across a dating app. “I know many of my friends talk about it and there is a general curiosity about these apps,” said S Krithi, a resident of Thanjavur.

One youngster who wished not to be named, says, “Youngsters in smaller towns of India are bound more tightly by cultural restrictions. It’s not like we can go ahead and freely start dating women before settling down with someone we like. Dating apps sure remove those restrictions.”

“I used the app when I was new to the city to beat my boredom. It showed few results, and I liked some. But it may take a while for dating apps to become very popular,” says R Vignesh (name changed), a resident of Coimbatore.

But experts have a word of caution. “Dating is very subjective. But when done with technology, the promise of genuineness is zero. As dating apps provide multiple options for a person to choose from, the relationship is mostly not platonic. The need for sex education and the need make clear choices are important. Cities like Tiruchy and even Chennai are more conservative and their usage is likely to be secretive,” says Abi Shankari, Chennai based psychological Counsellor.

Need for awareness

She also highlights the need for awareness about dating apps and the pitfalls of video chatting. There have been instances of students unwittingly falling into a trap, and the stigma is felt more by victims in smaller towns. “Also, the users of such apps are not only single eligible working men and women. Students from the age of 15 to married men and women create profiles for socialising. Sometimes, the issue of dating almost ceases to exist, and the app turns into a fertile ground for sex predators,” Abi adds.
“In a month, we get a minimum of five cases related to social media obsession.

There are many couples who come for marriage counselling after first meeting online. Dating apps are futile. We do get information from other counsellors and psychiatrists about such cases coming to them,” warns K Ramakrishnan, clinical psychiatrist and director of Mind Care Center, Tiruchy.

There are other issues as well. Ganesh (name changed) has been cheated of `1000 and `500 in Bengaluru as well as in Coimbatore. “Some create profiles in dating apps and lure new users. They promise the users nude photos and steamy chats, but before that, they ask for the money to be transferred to their e-wallets or bank accounts. Once the transfer is done, they vanish without a trance. They block your number. These people operate exclusively out of these apps,” he says. He also says that victims like him cannot go to the police.

S Sarayu, a lifeskill trainer, sums up: “Most people here do not know what dating means. Many think dating is either love or lust. However, the case is not so. Dating can also be platonic. Having said that, online dating does not give a person a real taste of a relationship.”

Breaking up homes

Experts are also worried about the impact of dating apps on marriage. They feel with the advent of these applications, cheating has become much more easy

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