Love in the time of dating apps

Technology and love may seem to make strange bedfellows, but the plethora of dating apps in Hong Kong makes these a match made in heaven!

dating apps

Suddenly, for SAR singletons, it’s no longer a matter of simply trusting to higher powers – or well-meaning wedding-brokering relatives – suddenly there’s a huge array of potential partners just a click away. But how can you distinguish the digital Don Juans from the cyber soulmates? And just which of the many amorously-oriented dating apps is most likely to help you find your ideal match?

Even a few years ago, the concept of ‘swiping right’ to find your right match may have been viewed skeptically, but now it’s the most common thing to do.

Especially in Hong Kong, where gender imbalance is a real problem – with 852 males per 1000 females in the city* – dating apps may be the easiest way of finding your soul mate. Hong Kong also has its fair share of single people living alone, many of whom are expats who don’t have too many contacts in the city to begin with. These apps not only help to find a date, they also help broaden their networks.

dating apps

We caught up with a few expats to get their point of view. Deepak, an Indian who has recently moved to Hong Kong with a job, said that for introverts like him, dating apps act like an icebreaker. “You get to know a person first through chatting with them before you meet them. It provides a great starting point.”

Lovely from Philippines agrees. According to her, “It’s best to have as many honest conversations with the other person as you can before meeting them. It is only if I find them interesting in the first place that I will agree to meet them.”

Apps like OkCupid make the task of selection and elimination a lot easier through their inbuilt algorithms. OkCupid generates its own percentage of compatibility and matches people based on this percentage of interest matches.

Another relatively ‘safe’ app is Hinge, which connects you only to ‘friends of friends’ from Facebook, and shows you not just your mutual friends, but also the interests you have in common.

Bumble is particularly safe for women, as it gives them the upper hand by allowing only the woman to message first. She has 24 hours to start a conversation after a ‘match’ happens.

Coffee Meets Bagel, another prominent name in the online dating market, narrows down your search to specifics like religion or ethnicity.

But even with such security measures, it’s not possible to be 100% sure. Some people exchange numbers and WhatsApp details before finding out that the other party is only interested in advertising or selling a product.

dating app cons

It is important to read between the lines when it comes to chatting. Tinder, the most widely popular app in Hong Kong, safeguards against fake profiles by linking the Tinder account to the person’s Facebook account (and optionally Instagram). This way you can scan through your potential date’s Facebook wall and gauge if they are pretending to be someone they are not. Also you are safeguarded against unsolicited messages because no one can message you unless you have shown an interest in them.

On the whole, both the men and the women, with whom we talked, said they felt safe using these apps. Johnny, a local Hong Kong guy in his early 30s, said he met his girlfriend through Tinder. According to him, “It’s best not to rush. You don’t want to be thought of as desperate.”

Alice, another Hong Kong local in her 20s, said, “I would carefully look at the person’s Facebook and Instagram profiles before forming an opinion on them. At the end of the day, these dating apps not only help you find your ideal date, but also help you reach beyond your current friend circle.”

While most youngsters seem to prefer matches made on the Net to ‘match made in heaven’ there are also those who hanker after old-school style of dating. Gigi, a young professional who shifted to Hong Kong from Canada a few years back, says, “There’s only so much you can convey through emojis. In the real world, you get to know so much more from body language, tone, idiosyncrasies, etc. You need to have a real connection above and beyond what an app offers.”

Of course, what is ‘real’ varies from person to person. And matters of the heart cannot be solved by an app’s algorithms. But it seems that this digital Cupid is here to stay. Let’s hope the arrows are pointed in the right direction.  

*According to Census and Statistics Department’s 2017 Edition

Text: Suchetana Mukhopadhyay