Everything is available on the internet these days. From relevant information to useless ones, from groceries to luxury shopping, from entertainment to education - the internet has it all. Another thing the internet has is numerous options to find a perfect date and Tinder is the most common dating app for anyone looking for a partner - long or short term.
As a person grows up and enters their teenage years, and sets foot into their 20s, the urge to find a romantic partner becomes a necessity. Dhaka, a largely conservative city that is home to almost nine million people, has little to no outlet for people to mingle with. If we discount family events such as weddings, friends' get-togethers and attending university, most people are forced to rely on social media to meet new people.
Dating apps, dedicated to doing exactly what it says, can be a more convenient and reliable way of finding a potential date in this concrete jungle.
"I have met great people that later became friends and found a couple of dates as well, but never a long-term relationship," shared Ruslan Shireen, a 27-year-old banker. Over the last four years, she has used multiple dating apps and describes her experience of going on dates through these apps as scenes in a romantic-comedy movie to absolute disasters.
Going on a date with a stranger you met online can be unbelievably awkward but it has its perks, too. If you are the sort of a person who does not have the time to go out and meet new people romantically, dating apps may just be your saviour. If you are not confident about your socialising skills, meeting a potential date online can be a timely opportunity to brush up on these skills while sparking up a conversation on the internet.
A former Tinder user, Abu Tahamid, who met his match for life on the app, shared, "I used to be extremely shy about talking to girls my age as someone in his early 20s. But one day I decided to jump on the bandwagon and give online dating a shot. So, I signed up on Tinder and for the first couple of days I had no matches, which disheartened me."
But on the third morning, Abu woke up to find that he had seven matches. He ended up going on dates with three of his matches and fell in love with one of them, who is currently his fiancée.
Many of Abu's friends met their partners through this app but not all of them managed to land a relationship that lasted long or was sincere. According to one of his friends, when conversations unexpectedly fizzle, sparks do not necessarily translate in person - causing him to ditch his date and disconnect from the app for some time.
Tinder has its fair share of heartwarming stories. However, it has a reasonable number of funny, awkward, unfortunate and horrifying tales to tell.
"On my Tinder bio, I mentioned that I liked cats and this apparently served as a reason for a man to send me a series of nasty messages regarding cats. He even added 'woof woof' at the end of the last message," a bewildered university student said, preferring to keep her identity anonymous.
While being a fun getaway for many, Tinder, and other online dating apps, have been on the receiving end of complaints ranging from a lack of matches to too many matches, misleading profiles, safety concerns, sexist remarks and unwanted explicit content.
Thanks to the advent of online dating, new words and terms such as ghosting (when someone cuts off all communication without notice) and catfishing (posing as someone they are not in real life) have come into existence.
Tinder has been around in Bangladesh for quite some time now and the app has experienced a significant rise in the number of users lately. While this correspondent researched the reason behind this dramatic rise, most users affirmed that they joined Tinder after the Covid-19 lockdowns were introduced in Bangladesh in March 2020.
"Boredom made me do it," exclaimed Hasanul Shishir, a recent university graduate.
According to him, his experience of using Tinder has come at the cost of his mental peace. He added, "I used to get matched and messaged at ungodly times of the night. Being an early and light sleeper, Tinder has been a major reason for my sleep deprivation."
Upon asking him why he continued using the app, Shishir answered, "With graduating from university and trying to apply for masters abroad, and the lockdown being put in place, I had run out of things to do. So, I decided to give Tinder a shot to curb my boredom. Although it cost me my sleep, I would be lying if I said I didn't have a good time chatting with people on the internet. Talking to them helped me gain perspective on many issues and I am still on good terms with few of my Tinder matches."
Another youth in his mid-20s, preferring to keep his identity anonymous, shared, "I opened an account, left swiped a few people, realised I do not want to communicate right now and went to sleep. I woke up and found I had 10 likes. So, I thought for a while where it would lead if I did end up matching with someone and how it would be strange because we are in a pandemic. Then I saw one of my students in the list of 'top picks' and I was out of there."
Online dating is also shrouded with social stigma. Tinder, or other dating app users, find it in poor taste to talk openly about their encounters. Many even consider relationships formed over dating apps to be inferior and this somehow invalidates the relationship. Some even consider resorting to online dating as a desperate move.
On the contrary, Mrittika Tahseen, a final year university student and an avid music enthusiast, found out that her boyfriend, who she met through Tinder, had been to multiple concerts and musical events she had been to before knowing each other.
"I thought of this as a fortunate coincidence and given the depth of our relationship, we were meant to be - irrespective of where we met. I have been to some very privately arranged musical events, and when I learned that he was there too, it told me something about our fates," Mrittika told the correspondent, while her face lit up with a bright smile.
One last swipe - the desperate act of trying to find a match on Tinder is a common phenomenon among people in their mid to late 30s. "Did I expect to find the love of my life on Tinder? Certainly not," said Wahidul Faruk, a 37-year-old corporate bigshot.
"I had a number of unfortunate encounters with a few of my matches. To top it off, I was asked to go on a date with a seemingly mysterious match in Rangamati. Was I up for it? Definitely, for the trip, not for the date with a complete stranger almost 300 kilometres away from home. I took this as the last straw and gave up hopes of finding a potential date that would not entirely creep me out. A week later, I swiped right one last time and matched with who turned out to be the love of my life. We got married six months ago and I am the happiest with her," Faruk exclaimed, beaming with joy.
In reality, in this day and age of technology, Tinder and online dating, in general, are merely another outlet for people to socialise without having to face awkward real-life interactions. These dating apps help people cut right to the chase by cancelling out melodramatic and unnecessary effort that needs to be put in to meet a person upfront for the first time.