Apps like tinder, woo and bumble have much fewer women users than men. What holds them back?
Three months ago, online dating app Woo conducted a survey of 20,000 people living in the urban parts across the country. The survey revealed – surprise, surprise — that women make up only 26% of the user base.
The survey by Woo – whose USP is that it lets users search other people by attributes like college, hometown and political views — also found that 32% of users join a dating app to “find a meaningful relationship.”
Patriot spoke to two women to take stock of their experiences with dating apps. And to find an answer to the question: Should more women be using dating apps?
“I think when you’re using these dating apps you should know what is there going on in your head. What are you looking for? You need to be sorted that way,” says Priya Sharma, a 23-year-old student.
As for herself: “I don’t really have many guy friends, so somebody suggested I join Tinder.” None of her friends extensively used the app, so she went in quite blind. Since she’d never had a hookup before, it was “a really big thing.”
As soon as she put her picture on her profile, matches and messages started pouring in. It was overwhelming. She shortlisted three matches, which led her to 16 dates.
Before the first date, the two spoke briefly for 15-20 days, the conversations streaming from Tinder to social media to WhatsApp. Her phone buzzed with good morning and good night wishes. Then they went on a date, which she found “perfect”.
However, after that first date, the guy seemed to lose interest and started ignoring her. “I had high expectations, so it’s not his fault,” reasons Sharma. After some days, she thought to confront him as to what transpired. “His reply was he’s busy and not getting time for himself.” The conversations became stale and after two months of talking, they said goodbye to each other.
She took a break from the app but did not delete her profile, which means people were still swiping her profile left and right. She resumed meeting different men (some are still friends), till she came across a person whom she doesn’t wish to name.
“I met him and realised I’m not really interested in taking it forward,” says Sharma. She thought she could remain friends with this person too. However, after the first meeting, he started sending her “flirty and cheesy messages.”
The guy told her that he wants to “talk about something important,” so she agreed to meet him. He told her he really liked her. This was when she decided to cut off ties with him.
“I started getting texts from his friends, they were calling me a bitch. They accused me of seeking attention and talking to him because I’m bored.” It stopped for a while but again a text came from him which said “I love you.” Sharma was creeped out by now, she blocked him from all her social media accounts
However, he started texting her classmates in her new college, alleging that she’s sleeping around. She confided in her sister and parents, who warned the guy. The texts stopped but then came a call from him. She requested him to end his shenanigans. That’s when she quit Tinder.
“My friends told me to join Bumble saying it’s better, but I can’t, this whole experience has affected me mentally so much,” says Sharma.
While Sharma’s account is more personal, Shweta Bhardwaj, 32, a lawyer by profession, gives an overview of the experience one goes through while using a dating app.
“I don’t know if it’s a male thing, but the chase is very important. When I start a conversation and I don’t reply for a few hours, I get messages like: ‘Don’t you wanna talk?’ or ‘Why are you not responding?’,” says Bhardwaj.
She has seen that men display an urgency to fast-forward the chats. Since she’s 32, she says, “This is also a factor for some people to try out their options. Maybe they think a conversation can lead to a serious relationship.”
Society’s hidebound attitudes, on the other hand, are another reason for women not signing up. “They’ll say, who tries to date through Tinder?” She recalls the time when she met a few men on marriage portals, and told one of them that she uses Tinder. “His expression was like, ‘Oh my god’ and afterwards the conversation ended.”
She does recommend to friends of both sexes that they try online dating but the usual reply she gets is: “We’re up to meet someone in our friends circle but not on an app.”
She also reveals that the user base changes from city to city. “If one’s using Tinder in Mumbai then it’s for sleeping around only. I know people who have done that 100%” In general, Tinder is for instant hookups, but Bumble has users looking to date though the platform. On the latter, only women can start a conversation.
Societal taboos, bad experiences and creepy messages are some of the few things which lead to women not staying on the apps for too long. It’s not the algorithm at fault, it’s the human interactions.