With apps to manage everything from what type of Thai food we want delivered to which model of car we summon to drive us down the road, the modern world has allowed us to curate our lives South east asia dating a degree our grandparents would find baffling.
So when it comes to sex—where our tastes vary a lot more than they do for take-out or transport—it's no surprise that a vast global industry has been built around choosing the right mate. Biting at its heels came other imitators and twists on the same format, like Hinge connects you with friends of friendsBumble women have to message firstand a multitude of options including choosing people according to the size of their Instagram following, their religion and whether or not they went to private school.
These apps were born in the US and quickly spread to Europe, but Asia—with a distinct dating behaviour and a different set of social norms and expectations—needed apps that tapped into local culture.
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In China, this kicked off with Tantan, which operates almost identically to Tinder. But it quickly outclassed its American doppelganger by attracting a ificantly higher proportion of users in China, particularly outside of mega-hubs like Beijing and Shanghai. Interestingly, Tantan is very vocal about how focused it is on relationships, rather than casual dating. Yu Wang, the founder of Tantansays he is solving a societal problem brought about by young Chinese people moving to cities for work, often to places where they have no families or strong friendship circles.
Very few young people go to bars and pubs. Another Chinese app, Momohas got more of a hook-up reputation and is particularly popular with ex-pats living in China make of that what you will.
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This has proved popular in a culture where people are generally more reserved about approaching someone, even on dating apps, than they are in other parts of the world. In Southeast Asia, meanwhile, negative perceptions around dating apps continue to linger.
Finding love online has been historically frowned upon in many of the more conservative societies such as Malaysia and Indonesia, and this stigma has kept singles looking for love IRL Internet parlance for "in real life". A few tech innovators, however, have found a way to break these difficult markets.
Paktor has quickly grown to become one of the biggest dating apps in Asia, and now has 15 million users in Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand.
Their secret to success has been tapping into a need for discretion. Since they changed the rules and said people simply needed to enter a phone torather than link to a social mediamembership soared.
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Like Momo, they have also introduced group settings, where shy daters can get to know each other more informally. An eager market responded and hundreds of thousands of matches have been made. This includes co-founder Joseph Phuawho met his wife on Paktor two years after he launched the app.
And he is not alone—throughout Asia, app innovators have been coming up with creative solutions to traditional cultural barriers. In India, meeting prospective partners is less of an issue than finding a place to spend time together when you live under the watchful eyes of your family. In Japan, there is the opposite problem.
While there is no shortage of love hotels, people are still looking for matches to meet them there. The name harks back to the concept of arranged marriage and users are urged to go on wholesome first dates such hiking or tea-drinking. Depending on who you interact with online, your Tamagotchi hatches into one of nine monsters aligning with types within Japanese gay culture: chubby piggy, say, or bulky bison.
Users then meet under that guise. As 9monsters alone proves, dating apps have radically transformed the way we approach love and sex.