Every evening around 7 p.m., in the comfort of their room, Sarva (name changed) browses the profiles of people – left and right – on the dating apps Tinder and Bumble. When Sarva swipes right on an individual’s profile, if he has also swiped right, it’s a match!
Sarva, 22, who started her online dating journey through Grindr – a dating app for gay people – in 2018, uses these apps with a very open mindset. They don’t know how their next match will go, whether it will be a potential romantic partner or a new friend.
“When I was new to the world of dating apps, my motivation was finding gay friends to talk to. Since I started using Grindr and Tinder, it’s easier to meet and date people. Some end up being great friends and others as potential romantic partners! “
Following the global trends of increasing online dating site users, there has been a boom in the Nepalese online dating community since the pandemic. People in their 20s and 30s have now found themselves on different online platforms – Tinder, Bumble, Grindr, Tantan – to find new friends, connect with people of different backgrounds, and find romantic partners.
Despite the misconception that dating apps are “sutne applications”- or apps primarily used for sexual encounters – users have defined their own motivations behind using such apps. Considering Nepalese society’s apprehension towards dating, users also face the shame and guilt of being on dating apps.
Siddhartha (name changed), 32, believes dating apps can really help people make new friends, meet new people, and allow them to share personal stories. “A lot of people in our part of the world have a misconception about dating apps. They think such apps are only meant for casual adventures or one night stands, but that’s not all. fact true, “says Siddhartha, who created her first dating app profile in March 2020, during the first lockdown.” The main reason I’m on dating apps is that I love interacting with people and make meaningful connections, rather than casual encounters. ”
These apps have come in handy for people looking for connections beyond their circle of friends. This has helped expand their network to people they otherwise would never have met.
Elina, 25, (name changed), went abroad for her undergraduate studies, and after returning to Nepal, she started using dating apps to meet people beyond her inner circle. friends. “I mainly go out to meet new people and I also made a lot of friends through Bumble’s BFF option. And it might be hard to believe, but I also made a lot of business connections through the app.
Dating apps allow users to create their own digital profiles by uploading their pictures, writing short bios, work, education, age, location and interests. Many also log into their social media platforms or add their favorite musicians.
However, these apps by default prioritize user appearances based on the images they have uploaded.
Despite this, all of those interviewed by the Post said they did not put so much emphasis on the appearance of individuals. They say bios and interests played a crucial role in the decision to swipe left (dislike) or right (like).
“People generally value photos more than personality. For me, it’s mostly interests and bio, ”says Siddhartha, who works in digital marketing. Elina echoes Siddhartha’s thoughts.
There are, however, many profiles on these dating apps that are named “Anonymous” or have a fake name, without pictures of a real individual but with original biographies. These accounts, too, get matches, even in the absence of images.
Jasmine (name changed), third year college student, sharing that it also slides directly to those anonymous accounts that don’t have individual details. “I am very curious about these anonymous accounts because it is obvious that not everyone is comfortable with these applications. The majority of these people share that they are afraid that someone they know will see them on these apps. They fear the stigma attached to being on such apps. “
Users of dating apps, mainly women and gay men, have identified two types of guilt associated with being on such apps: the first guilt of being “out there” and the second guilt of wearing clothes. judgments on other users based on their digital profile, mainly images, biographies. , and interest.
Jasmine shares that she was initially ashamed to be on these apps. “People generally assume that just the fact that I’m on dating apps means I’m desperately looking for someone, which I am not. It made me feel very uncomfortable and guilty about it. be on such platforms.
However, after almost four years of experience, she laughs and says, “You overcome the feeling of shame once you delete and download the app multiple times.”
Users also share the feeling of being uncomfortable with the performativity of dating apps – deciding whether or not you like someone based solely on their digital profiles. Sarva, a third year social work and literature student at a college in Kathmandu, shares: “I remember someone judging me based on my profile and deciding whether they want to talk to me or not. And that’s what I do with others too!
Elina and Jasmine identify that this guilt stems from the fact that dating is avoided in Nepal.
“Ours is a society that takes a double look at people of opposite sexes holding hands or walking with each other. So when dating is an activity that needs to be hushed up, being on dating apps further amplifies this guilt, ”Jasmine explains.
Despite the dilemma, confusion, shame, and guilt associated with dating apps, users overcome them at their own pace. In a world where it is increasingly difficult to meet new people, dating apps have become a platform for connecting with people, finding love and even therapists.
“I paired up with a guy on Bumble, we met, but it was obvious we didn’t connect. So, we decided to stay friends,” shares Psychology graduate Elina.
“A month later, he called me to tell me he needed therapy. So now I give my bumble match therapy twice a month.