When you’re feeling bored and lonely, what’s your usual route of meeting someone new? You might go to a party, hope that a chance encounter of a soul mate (or a quick lay) would happen.
Fireworks go off instantaneously, the hours go by quickly and by the end of the night, you’ve scored their number. And hopefully, it’s the start of a beautiful & meaningful relationship (or lay).
Or take a page out of our parents’ books where maybe the person you marry will be the boy/girl next door or your high school sweetheart. Why bother dating anyone when the only person you’ve ever been with is… decent.
No wonder divorce rates among the ages of our parents are so high.
But we’ve learnt since then that maybe dating around isn’t such a bad idea after all. You’re more inclined to choose a better suited partner after dating a bunch of frogs, realizing what you can tolerate and what you cannot.
So let’s go back to my earlier point: some people go to parties, some people go on blind dates set up by mutual friends or some people just accept a life of isolation.
But luckily for us, the internet has given us dating apps!
A (very) brief history of dating apps
Online dating has been around for a long time. Dating websites like OkCupid and eHarmony have been around since the early 2000s. But dating apps on the other hand recently appeared pass the 2010s.
Originating from the gay community, dating apps first came about in the form of Grindr and Scruff which helped gay men find each other within a close geographical distance. This was in 2009 and 2010, respectively.
Then 2 years later, Tinder was launched and garnered a huge following. It was easy and straightforward enough. Anyone with a Tinder account within a close distance around you will show up on the app and swiping left means you’re not interested while swiping right means you’re into them.
I think the ease of Tinder made it much more appealing to the younger generation. All you had to do was upload a few of your best pictures and write a short bio and ta-da, off you go, swiping swiper.
As compared to OkCupid and eHarmony where users have to answer a long quiz where they answer basic questions like age & gender preferences then onto more personal ones like religious beliefs, favourite music genre & hobbies. The answers will then be generated and matches with similar scores to you will be recommended.
That definitely requires more effort and seriousness that most users on Tinder couldn’t care less about. Just show us the babes & dudes already!
Hence why dating apps like Tinder and Bumble have garnered more of a stigma in conservative Malaysia. It’s usually because if you use these apps, you’re just looking to hookup, nothing serious.
(Because obviously if you’re doing anything with anyone with no desire to marry, you deserve all judgment)
Online Dating in Malaysia
Thankfully it has become quite common for Millenials to be on dating apps now so the stigma is slowly wearing off. It’s probably weirder to hear a couple saying “Oh we met (physically) first in real life” than “We met online.”
A YouGov research done in 2017 supports this with statistics finding 3 out of 10 Malaysians are on dating websites and apps. However, the same research also revealed that 6 out of 10 Malaysian millennials admitted they would be embarrassed to admit they met a partner through those mediums.
Keeping in mind three years have passed and I think the mentality has slowly been shifting throughout the years.
Whichever is a more acceptable means of searching for a partner, online dating is here to stay. I’ll include my own personal experience too with Tinder and Bumble to shed some light about destigmatizing this phenomenon.
My Experiences with Online Dating
Originally from a small town, I moved to the big city in 2016 for my tertiary studies. I’ve always been more inclined to stay in so meeting anyone aside from my course mates was difficult.
Waiting for that right person to swoop me off my feet randomly gives a nice booster for waking up every day. But it comes a time where you have to take initiative and seek out Prince Charming yourself.
So that’s what I did. By downloading Tinder.
It went as expected. Made an account, stressed out over how to come off as cool but effortless, realizing 80% of the users there had no bio then stressing out more if I came off as a try-hard.
But eventually, I got it going and matched with a few guys. Just like in real life, the first few shared rather dry conversations with me. To the point where I wondered “Wow if all the conversations are going to be this depressing, colour me single for life.”
Any fellow dating app users will share the same sentiment but don’t give up just yet, eventually, you’ll meet someone who can hold a DECENT conversation (the bar is truly low) and it’ll lead to a date. Sometimes things that are birth from desperation will eventually change into a… well, not a diamond but a rather nice… rock.
My first date was a really nice guy but frankly there was no chemistry so nothing came out of it. Then another few dates that resulted in nothing too. It’s okay, the dating apps became more of an app I used to ease those lonely, lonely nights.
Then I met my first serious boyfriend on there. Everything felt right from the first date and we stayed together for 2 years. Not bad for a hookup app, hey?
Admittedly we were one of the 6 out of 10 Millenials who were embarrassed to admit that we met on a dating app, choosing the more acceptable alternative of “we met online”. But that was in the beginning and towards the middle of our relationship, we were open about it and actually kinda proud!
That relationship ended and I went on dating apps again. This time I used Bumble which is a “more progressive” dating app in which the girl has to make the first move. Patriarchy be damned.
Then I met my current boyfriend and we’ve been together for almost a year now. You can read more about us here.
What I’m trying to say is online dating isn’t some shady platform that everyone should be wary of. Sure there are weird and douchey people on there for sure but the majority of the guys I met there were nice and normal guys. Who like me, just wanted some companionship. More importantly, they were respectable and never pressured me into doing anything I wasn’t comfortable with.
Online dating was probably perceived as a scary place because a long time ago, would who be comfortable meeting a complete stranger? But times have changed and it’s definitely much easier to go on an app, match with someone, have a conversation, stalk them (to ensure they ARE real and bonus points if you two share mutual friends) than to just leave it to chance & fate.
I think founders of Tinder Sean Rad and Justin Mateen had the right reasons that plague every lonely millennial’s mind when creating this app: a general dissatisfaction with the lack of dating opportunities that arise naturally.
So embrace the more convenient route and give online dating a chance: you might find your soul mate, a great lay or even a friend for life.