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#Opinion Of The Day

Why it's time to embrace dating apps

Just last month, my girlfriend asked me a fairly innocent question: "How are you going to tell your parents about how we met?"

Although most couples would like nothing more than to regale unwitting listeners with stories about how they met, in our case, it was a little different. We met on a dating app.

Some time last year, I downloaded one after hearing about it from a friend. At first, I didn't tell anyone I was using a dating app. In fact, I concealed the app in a folder on the last page of my iPhone's home screen. Whenever I received a notification, I would make sure no one was looking before surreptitiously loading the app.

Maybe it was the stigma attached to dating apps. Some still associate them with sleaze and seediness, even though such apps are increasingly popular. In 2014, dating app Tinder claimed it matched more than 12 million people a day.

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Ironically, I once belonged to the tribe that slighted dating apps. I used to think: "Hey, I'm young, friendly, nice (I think) and have a steady job. I don't need an app or anything, for that matter, to help me find a girlfriend."

Never, I said to myself, would I need to put myself behind a virtual shopping window, sell my virtues like a desperate encyclopaedia salesman and hope that strangers would be persuaded enough to click "like".

Eventually, though, I came around.

You see, when you work 12-hour days and also have to work on the weekends, the ability to date or meet new people is seriously compromised.

On days when I can leave work early, I like nothing more than to read a book and unwind over a glass of whisky or watch a good movie in bed.

When you work 12-hour days and also have to work on the weekends, the ability to date or meet new people is seriously compromised.

Nothing about those activities brings me remotely close to another human being, except when my mother barges into my room to admonish me about my drinking.

Given these limitations, which I'm sure are not limited to a whisky-loving, time-strapped journalist, a dating app is the best chance I have of finding a partner.

More than anything, it connects me with new people instantly and, to top it off, with minimal impact on my recreational habits. The whole process of joining new social groups, introducing yourself and hoping for a potential partner to emerge through repeat interactions is shortened to a few keystrokes on your smartphone.

And while it may sound superficial to choose a date based on their photos, likes and dislikes, and a bit of small talk, I would argue that this process, in fact, increases the probability of finding the right match.

Never will I have to show up for a date only to find out that my companion idolises Justin Bieber, or has posters of High School Musical adorning her bedroom. Nor will dinner devolve into an argument over whether Al Pacino is the most gifted actor of his generation. He is. Period.

Looking back, I have enjoyed most of my dates, which I pick after carefully reading their profiles. The encounters were mostly safe, although a date once asked me to meet her at a secluded bar in Pasir Ris Park. My Uber driver jokingly asked if I was sure this was not a kidnapping scheme. I asked him to accompany me but he thought I was joking.

I'm as close to Casanova as George R.R. Martin is to finishing Winds Of Winter, so the fact that I've met several eligible women must say something about the effectiveness of dating apps. Of course, things didn't work out with all my matches - I will be studying abroad soon and was uncertain about what I wanted. But going out with different people helped me understand what I wanted in a partner, which was how I eventually got into a relationship, despite my concerns.

Nowadays, whenever I meet a friend who is single and looking to date, I deliver a long lecture about the perks of using a dating app, not least because it helped me find that special someone. Sure, when I was still using the app, I'd get in-app currency for each recommendation, but who's counting? 500.

Going back to my girlfriend's question, I guess it isn't difficult telling my folks we met on a dating app. Besides, I'm sure they'd rather I date than drink at home. In fact, it'd probably be tougher explaining what an app is to my technophobe mother, who does not own a mobile phone.


  • #opinionoftheday is a column for younger writers in the newsroom to write about issues that matter to them and their peers.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 16, 2017, with the headline 'Why it's time to embrace dating apps'. Print Edition | Subscribe