Online Love: The effects of technology on romance

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Technology continues to provide a platform for romance.

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There was a huge hall filled with young enthusiastic men. A beautiful princess was sharing space beside her father. She was wearing a red saree and around her neck were emeralds brought from distant land. She was anxious, perplexed and her eyes were searching for someone. It was already noon, none of the men in the room could pick up the bow. Her father increasingly became tensed as no one in the room could perform the task. Soon, a handsome young man with a strong build came forward and he easily picked up the bow and then she finally got her prince charming.

This episode of Ramayana made me think of how I would possibly meet the love of my life. I am no Rakhi Sawant or Rahul Mahajan to organise my own Swayamvar, although many of us would secretly love that. The only options I have is to meet someone at a party, perhaps use a dating app or rely on my friends. According, to a survey conducted by Assocham, 55% of their respondents had used dating apps for casual dating, while 20% look at matrimonial sites as a way to find a long-lasting partner. 10% said that they used match making apps to interact socially.

Searching for love online

Dating apps have become a popular platform for meeting people today. Tinder, Bumble, Happn and Ok Cupid are some of the most sought after dating apps in the market. These apps are popularly used by people in their early 20s, who want to experiment and experience more adventure in their relationships. It is a common conception among dating apps which makes them popularly associated with non-serious link ups, flings but at the same time, a lot of people have found their life partners on it. The apps provide anonymity, flexibility in meeting while meeting different people. The popularity of these apps is growing as indicated by newer apps being designed every other day. They have made the market overcrowded and competitive, while most of these apps end up offering identical services.

In India, the system of arranged marriage is popular and matrimonial websites give a good option where one searches for a partner along with parental approval. The traditional form of match making has been adapted to meet the need of the new generation. The matrimony websites are used by people who are in late 20s or are generally looking for more stability in life. One of the earliest online website started in India was the Bharat Matrimony in 1997. The founder’s aim was to create a better “Bharat through better marriages.” The platform, apart from match making, also provided help through counselling to young couples. Their stride was later followed by other websites like Shaadi.com and Jeevansathi.com. Most of these websites ask for your personal and family details. Some sites provide stringent security procedures to ascertain safety. Easily accessible contacts, helpful representatives and a user-friendly interface makes it easier for parents to conduct searches. Thus, there is an amalgamation of tradition with modernity. The main thrust of these websites is their emphasis on community-based match making. Most of these ventures pertain to caste-based norms. Each website has web portal which pertains to particular community. Website’s like Bharat Matrimony provide services based on different regions. Like, the Marathi Bharat Matrimony, similar services are provided by other websites today. Apart from these, many regional matrimonial services providers give information in a particular region. These websites go beyond caste, communities and even cater to a particular class like the Elite Matrimony for the ultra-rich. In spite of their intrinsic differences, such platforms are a good way to meet people today. They provide instant, convenient and are an anonymous source of searching for people.

The burden of Expectations

Scrolling through a host of options on these websites makes one realise that on such platforms your profile is what makes you or breaks you. While physical factors are subjected to personal choices, almost everyone agrees that an individual owning a high package, having assets like car and house are most sought after. There is also a greater demand for a partner working abroad, men are also keen on having a partner who is willing to settle abroad. Expectations are rampant on all sides. Many women complaint that families and the partner have higher expectations. The most common expectation from a girl is that she should be good looking, well educated, caring and loving along with being able to adjust to a joint family, having a good nature, and of course a good cook. The sheer list of the necessary qualities is long and unending. Why isn’t it ok for a career-oriented woman to be a bad cook? Why do all women have to ambitious about careers? A lot of grooms demand that women keep minimum contact with their parents. Similarly, many women expect the man to settle away from his parents after the marriage. Having such expectations is not only bizarre but also detrimental to any relationship in a long run.

Upon conversation with many friends I have come across a lot of experiences. Many a times the parents are the one taking keen interest than the spouse. In some instances, the women are ready only just after an initial phone call; on the other hand, some demand that one must date at least for a year. Men are often seen complaining that women are not ready to stay with in-laws. While, women complaining that in-laws often conceal information and lack transparency in communication.

Many men are just keen to talk to women and have no serious intentions of getting married. Many have experienced emotionally exhausting relationships, short amorous links ups and some serious heartbreaks. Many a times, old pics are put up while in reality the person looks different. A lot of heavy editing is done on the photographs. Props like hats, sunglasses, pictures from side angles are rampantly used. These factors are successful in deceiving the person looking at the profile. There are many who cut connections after initial talks and many a times a person is talking to multiple suitors. There have been cases where the man has different sexual preferences but he is willing to marry a girl only because of family pressure. From lying partner, to deceiving in-laws we find everything under one roof. 

This is just one side of the picture. A lot of people have successfully met their match online. They are married and are leading a happy life. But many have had to face troublesome marriages and divorces too. Some of the basic tricks to do it right is to perhaps be specific and clear of what kind of person you want to be with. Further, having clear geographical preferences also would help in targeting your search. Further, rather than spending a lot of time chatting one should go forward and meet and talk to a person. No amount of artificial intelligence, algorithm, profile match making can help you understand a person better rather than just meeting someone and talking. Stay away from meeting someone or talking to someone under parental pressure. It is also advisable to have an open mind and to shun off any pre-conceived notion. Further, one must avoid taking hasty decisions. It is important to manage one’s emotions and to not get involved too early or too soon.

Air of change or same old customs?

Online websites have revolutionised the marriage search. Even during lockdown, when most of the companies are facing problems, the online matrimonial websites have seen a good response. The people are using the opportunity to search for their partners. There has been surge in the number of registrations. A lot of websites were offering special packages, discounts for people during the lockdown. The websites are offering extension of packages, without demanding any money during the lockdown.

Shaadi.com has started a novel concept of wedding from home. It had even come up with an ad titled “ladies first” asking women to take lead in approaching suitable partner. Although, most of these websites have progressive advertisement, the core of selection still remains same. People are still influenced by money and family status while choosing a match. Traditional concepts like matching the kundalis and exchanging gifts still continue. Although the generation has adopted to new technology it hasn’t changed its perspective and dogmas to a large extent. It rather continues to harbour the age-old traditions in newer forms. Money, looks and status still continue to occupy the same position. There are a few of us, who are using this opportunity to break the shackles and assert their individuality. From inter-caste marriages, to rejecting traditional dogmas, COVID-19 has subsequently taught us to say bye to big fat weddings. Increasingly, millennials are shunning lavish weddings and the ensuing pandemic has forced all of us to do the same. Online websites are a blend of tradition and modernity, we can expect more changes in the coming year as the impact of the pandemic sustains.

Featured Image Credits: Alex Iby on Unsplash

Aparajita Morde
Aparajita is currently doing her PhD in Visual Arts, Arts and Aesthetics at JNU. She is a trained archaeologist and has participated in excavations at Rakhigarhi, Haryana and Odhisa.

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