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Following recommendations from friends who had found their partners online, Ms Peh decided to give dating apps a shot several months after her break-up. Over two weeks, she went on five separate dates with men whom she got to know via the Paktor dating app. Among them was Mr Andrew Chia, a bank analyst and part-time swim coach who was about a decade older than her.
Less than two years later, the pair got married in and they just had their first child earlier this month. Ms Peh's experience reflects just how much the dating scene has been changed by apps designed for those who are looking for love or companionship.
Today, a growing number of young Singaporeans are finding Mr or Ms Right via dating apps — sometimes in a matter of a few clicks and swipes. This new phenomenon may be welcome news for a society grappling with falling birth rates and late marriages. A woman uses her smartphone.
Photo: Xabryna Kek. Singapore Management University SMU Associate Professor of Psychology Norman Li, whose research interests include mate preferences and mate value, said relationships could become "shorter and much less stable", given the limitless choice the app opens users up to. Exactly a year later, Mr Ye got down on one knee, and the pair will get hitched this October.
He said:. Dating apps, from the likes of Tinder, CMB, OkCupid — which are all based in the United States — to homegrown outfits such as Paktor, have radically changed romance and the way singles date. Mr Ng Jing Shen, chief executive officer of Paktor Group, said that based on observations from the Paktor app, guys spend less than a second deciding on matches online while girls spend five to 10 times longer.
Most dating apps are free, unlike speed dating or matchmaking services, which would require users to fork out anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars in search of the perfect one. As such, since the early s, the Internet has overtaken schools, universities, and offices as settings in which singles could potentially meet a partner. Gone are the days of relying on friends and family to introduce potential partners too, said Mr Ye.
In the really old days, marriages were pretty much arranged. Now, decisions are made more by the individuals and less by the considerations of family and friends. Americans lead the way, in part due to the fact that most of the popular apps were invented in the United States. In other countries like India, which has a history of arranged marriages, dating apps have also hit cultural walls, but are slowly seeing greater acceptance.
Dating apps first took off among the gay community, helping single men link up with others within a specific geographic radius. But the advent of Tinder in soon saw people of all sexual orientations to start looking for love on their mobile apps — casual, or for the long term.
The dating app Tinder is shown on an Apple iPhone in this photo illustration taken February 10, The success of these apps in the Western markets also spawned clones targeted at Chinese users, such as Tantan. According to data by analytics company App Annie, published by the BBC, just four apps dominated the entire online dating market in 23 European countries. This preference for a more localised dating app — an app that is, or perceived to be started by locals and targeted at locals — is observed in South Korea and Taiwan, said Mr Ng from Paktor Group, which provides online as well as offline dating and coaching services.
While Asian countries seem late to the game, user activity is growing steadily — especially in Singapore and Hong Kong, which industry players say are more cosmopolitan and open-minded when it comes to the dating game. The two cities were cited by CMB co-founder Dawoon Kang as the among its stronger markets in the region. CMB data shows that in , 2. The firm defines these as instances where two users exchange more than five messages and their mobile numbers.
In Singapore, Paktor saw a 7 per cent increase in number of matches between and , with the figure rising another 36 per cent from to this year. Currently, Mr Ng said the app has an average of about 60, matches a month. Screegrabs from the Paktor app on Google Play Store. Here, each user on Paktor swiped about 1, times, which is four times more than users in South Korea and twice of users in Taiwan. While such apps give users a variety of new matches a day, homegrown app LunchClick — founded by dating agency LunchActually — differentiates itself by providing only one match to non-paying users daily.
Apart from sending only one match to users daily, the app also screens new sign-ups for their marital status using their identification number. On Tinder, for example, users can set their preferred age group of matches.
On CMB, users can go further to indicate their preferences for age, height and also religious beliefs. On other platforms, such as OkCupid, users can also fill out a list of questions ranging from their favourite foods to movies and their faiths. The couple noted that there is also greater clarity when using the apps — generally, users make known whether they are seeking a long-term relationship, or a casual hook-up. At what point should one take the online conversation offline?
Mr Ye, a public servant, concurred, saying that it was easier to meet someone like-minded and had similar intentions about settling down through dating apps. Recounting an incident prior to using dating apps, Mr Ye said he had been introduced to a potential partner through a friend.
Dating apps have been soaring in popularity because they also allow users to expand their social circles exponentially, industry players said. A year-old educator, who only wanted to be known as Mrs Lim, said that before she met her husband on LunchClick, most of her friends were women. She then tried using about two or three apps, including Tinder, before meeting her husband on LunchClick in Apart from increasing interaction with the opposite gender, dating apps also allow users to date more broadly, by opening up a pool of racially and ethnically diverse users.
A year-old marketing and public relations executive in the hospitality industry, who only wanted to be known as Ms Tay, said she always thought she would end up with a Singaporean partner. She said:. I met my boyfriend on Tinder. I reckon the apps do open up more options, and in turn more opportunities for inter-ethnic dating. While dating apps have changed how people find and court potential partners, what they are looking for is largely the same, say experts.
A couple holding hands. File photo: Reuters. We found that for guys, looks are still important. Girls value looks, but to a smaller extent. To them, hobbies, personality and profession are also factors.
But while dating apps are becoming more popular here, they have not quite become mainstream, as the stigma attached to their use still exists to some extent, said Mr Ng. In addition, the use of dating apps comes with its own risks. Mr Dax Xu, for one, is steering clear of dating apps. Many dating users themselves, while welcoming the widening of choices that the online world offers, are also becoming aware of its downsides.
An increasing problem that has been highlighted in the media is the issue of catfishing, where a person creates a fake social media account, often in order to deceive a particular person.
For those who are ghosted, it can often be emotionally exhausting to continue conversations with other people on the app, and they can experience feelings of rejection. To eliminate the risk of users meeting scammers and married men or women, Ms Violet Lim said that LunchClick runs all potential sign-ups through the Registry of Marriages in Singapore.
By giving non-paying users only one match a day, she said the app becomes less attractive for scammers and cheats, who hunt by casting a wide net for potential victims.
Paktor, on the other hand, said it uses artificial intelligence to sieve out potential bots which create fake profiles.
That is not humanly possible, so the system is able to pick it up. File photo of a ring being placed on a finger. Photo: AFP. He added that about five staff members manually screen new profiles on the app, to catch the use of fake profile photos, among others. She said that her firm manually reviews the profile of every single person who signs up before approving them.
However, Ms Violet Lim said that some fake profiles could be introduced by apps themselves to increase retention rates. What is he likely to do? Then, there is also the possibility of losing personal data in the event of a breach. It was later reported that the data, which included the names and e-mail address of more than 6 million users, were put on the Dark Web, prompting the company to issue an apology.
Dating app Coffee Meets Bagel's website. Screengrab: Coffee Meets Bagel. Presented with seemingly endless possibilities, the irony is that users then find it harder to commit to a person at any one time. When you perceive that you have many options, then it gets you to shift more towards a short-term mating strategy rather than a long-term one.
Most of the couples interviewed said that once they decided to get together, they deleted the dating apps. For Ms Peh and her husband, along with others who are in lasting relationships after finding Mr or Ms Right online, dating apps simply provide a practical and useful channel to connect potential soul mates.
But that is just a start, Ms Peh said. Skip Navigation Jump to Main.
Tinder Diaries: The 25 year-old guy looking for real love
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The Big Read: Fast love – dating apps help busy Singaporeans find almost instant romance
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Back in , a close friend introduced me to a fascinating Google experiment. The K-Pop cookie cutter look of porcelain skin, wavy fringes and manicured brows spilled across the screen. And I thought I was already doing well. It made me feel like I was getting to a steamy sex scene in a movie, and then someone just pulled the plug. Or at least presentable enough not to give members of the public conjunctivitis. Those not so new around the block might know us for our knife-edge sarcasm to incinerate guys for the kind of style disaster they inflict upon themselves — like wearing jeans with slippers — among other things. Our goal has never been all about making you self-conscious about your glaring lack of personal grooming, so it registers on you that grease, acne and UV-laden dullness are standing in the way of your inner Gosling.
As compared to other more conservative Asian countries, Singapore is quite progressive in terms of gender equality. From personal experience, NS guys are overall seen as less desirable partners. Girls tend to swipe left or unmatch a guy on Tinder when they find out the guys are still in the army.
By Jo Tweedy For Mailonline. Time waits for no man but one Asian model-turned-photographer seems to have found a way to halt the clock. Handsome Chuando Tan, from Singapore , is actually into his sixth decade, having turned 50 earlier this year - but you really wouldn't know it by looking at his Instagram account.
Following recommendations from friends who had found their partners online, Ms Peh decided to give dating apps a shot several months after her break-up. Over two weeks, she went on five separate dates with men whom she got to know via the Paktor dating app. Among them was Mr Andrew Chia, a bank analyst and part-time swim coach who was about a decade older than her. Less than two years later, the pair got married in and they just had their first child earlier this month.
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