Dating in India

India is known for being an colorful nation. It’s dating culture is built on thousands of years of traditions, customs and norms in addition to a variety of religious practices found throughout the country. Though seemingly alike, the different states that make up India can almost be considered different countries. They speak their own languages, practice their own religions and have their own traditions. Even with India’s neighboring South Asian countries, Pakistan and Bangladesh for example, there is cultural overlap. For this reason, people from the Indian subcontinent region typically refer to themselves as desi. Therefore desi dating culture may also apply to other surrounding nations.

One of the most significant aspects of Indian dating culture is the importance of arranged marriages. Although arranged marriages are becoming less common in urban areas or with higher socioeconomic strata, they are still prevalent in many parts of the country. In arranged marriages, families play a critical role in choosing the partner for their child. Parents will often consult astrologers and consider the family background and financial status of potential partners before making a decision.

Another significant factor in Indian dating culture is religion. Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, and Jainism are some of the major religions in India, and each has its own set of customs and practices that can affect dating. For example, in Hinduism, premarital sex is generally not accepted, and many families expect their children to abstain from sexual activity until marriage. In Muslim communities, dating is often done with the intention of finding a spouse, and physical contact between unmarried couples is strictly prohibited.

Dating in India can also be influenced by caste, which is a social system based on hierarchical social distinctions between different groups. In some communities, inter-caste marriages are frowned upon, and families may pressure their children to marry within their caste.

Despite the traditional attitudes towards dating in India, young people in urban areas or with experience living abroad are increasingly adopting a Western-style approach to dating. In cities like Mumbai and Delhi, it is becoming more common for young people to date and choose their own partners. However, even in these more liberal urban environments, many families still prefer to have a say in their children’s dating decisions. This may be giving rise to some hybrid forms of arranged marriages where the children choose a partner and then seek their families acceptance.

Group of friends in India

In recent years, online dating has become increasingly popular in India. There is a presence of international dating apps like Tinder, Bumble, and OkCupid, but local dating apps are much more aligned with the Indian culture. People are increasingly turning to these platforms to meet potential partners. (See below for a list of local dating apps)

In summary, Indian dating culture is complex and diverse, with influences from religion, traditions, and cultural norms. Arranged marriages, caste, and religion can all play a significant role in dating decisions, particularly in more traditional communities. However, young people in urban areas are increasingly adopting a Western-style approach to dating, with online dating becoming increasingly popular.

The role of Bollywood in dating culture

We’d be remissed if we didn’t highlight the role of Bollywood in Indian dating culture. Much like how the American cinema has shaped a perfect Hollywood love story, Bollywood is somehow related.

In fact, Bollywood and the Indian film industry have a significant impact on shaping dating culture, romantic relationships, and marriages in India. With a massive audience that spans across the country and beyond, Bollywood films have the power to influence the behavior, expectations, and values of millions of people.

Firstly, Bollywood films often portray the ideal romantic relationship as one that starts with initial dislike and misunderstandings but eventually blossoms into true love. This has created a narrative that is often reflected in real-life dating scenarios where many people believe that initial animosity is just a sign of hidden love waiting to be discovered.

An ideal traditional Indian couple

Secondly, Bollywood has also created a specific image of an ideal partner, especially for women. A typical hero in Indian films is often depicted as someone who is strong, charming, and protective of his love interest. This has contributed to the notion that a desirable partner should possess these qualities, leading to a preference for men who exhibit such behavior.

Thirdly, due to the fact that the depiction of the perfect couple is always one man and one woman, it helps to perpetuate stereotypes and stigmas against the LGTBQ community.

Fourth, though Bollywood scenes can be fiery and romantic, potential lovers never engage in any sexual activities. They come close, but never kiss. This may reinforce the stereotype that pubic displays of affection are not acceptable.

Fifth, the elaborate weddings portrayed in Bollywood films have a significant influence on the way weddings are conducted in India. The grandeur, music, dance, and celebration depicted in movies have become an essential aspect of weddings in India, making them an extravagant and lavish affair.

Finally and ironicaly, though many other themes from Bollywood strengthen traditional customs and norms, they’ve combated them in other ways. For example, Bollywood has also played a role in shaping societal norms surrounding romantic relationships, especially inter-caste or inter-religious relationships. While inter-caste or inter-religious relationships were once considered taboo, Bollywood films have normalized them, portraying them as an act of rebellion against traditional norms. This is a hugely positive impact for dating in India as historically these relationships may have never happened. Now more than ever, people are inter-marrying across castes and socio-economic statuses.

In summary, Bollywood and the Indian film industry have played a crucial role in shaping dating culture, romantic relationships, and marriages in India. By creating an ideal image of romance, partner, and wedding, Bollywood has not only influenced the behavior and expectations of individuals but also helped in changing societal norms surrounding relationships.

6 interesting facts about dating culture in India

  1. Public displays of affection (PDA) are not common in India, especially in more conservative regions. Holding hands or hugging in public may be seen as inappropriate.
  2. India is a diverse country with many different cultures and religions, which can impact dating norms and customs. For example, dating outside of one’s religion may be frowned upon in some communities.
  3. In some parts of India, premarital sex is still taboo and can be met with social ostracism. However, this is changing as the country becomes more progressive.
  4. Horoscope Matching: In India, horoscopes are seen as a way to predict a person’s future and compatibility with their partner. Before getting married, families will often consult an astrologer to analyze the couple’s horoscopes and ensure that their marriage will be successful. If the horoscopes don’t match, the couple may decide not to get married.
  5. Dowry System: The dowry system is a controversial tradition in India where the bride’s family is expected to give gifts or money to the groom’s family in exchange for the marriage. While the practice is technically illegal, it is still prevalent in some parts of India and can lead to financial burdens on the bride’s family. This tradition is considered strange and outdated by many, but it still persists in some parts of the country.
  6. Weddings in India are often large, extravagant affairs that can last for several days. The process of finding a partner, getting engaged, and planning a wedding can be a long and elaborate process. If you’ve never been to an Indian wedding, you must attend one!

Most Romantic Day in India

In India, Valentine’s Day is widely considered to be the most romantic day. It is celebrated on February 14th every year, and it has gained significant popularity in recent years, especially among the younger generation. Many couples exchange gifts, flowers, and cards on this day, and it is also common for people to go out for romantic dinners or spend quality time together. However, it is worth noting that some conservative groups in India view Valentine’s Day as a Western influence and discourage its celebration. As a result, there have been occasional incidents of moral policing and protests against the holiday. Nevertheless, Valentine’s Day remains a widely celebrated day of love and romance in India.

Typical First Date in India

Due to the fact that India is made up of so many different cultures, there may be great variance across the country in terms of what is considered to be a first date or not. There may even be situations in really conservative parts of India where there is no first date.

However, we’ll focus on scenarios where dating is practiced. It’s important to note that a typical first date in India is characterized by formality, respect for tradition and cultural norms, and a focus on building a connection through conversation and shared interests.

Depending on the individuals and their preferences, a first date in India can involve going to a restaurant, watching a movie, or attending a cultural event. It is essential to dress appropriately and conservatively, especially for women, who may opt for traditional clothing such as a saree or salwar kameez.

Indian food date
A first date can involve a trip to a restaurant

Indian dating culture places great emphasis on family and social approval, so it is not uncommon for individuals to introduce their date to their family or friends early on. This introduction can occur before or after the first date and is often seen as a significant step in a relationship’s progression.

Additionally, physical contact is usually limited during the first date. Public displays of affection are not common, and it is crucial to respect cultural norms around physical contact.

Is India gay friendly?

India has made significant progress towards LGBTQ+ rights in recent years. In 2018, the Indian Supreme Court overturned a colonial-era law that criminalized consensual homosexual acts, known as Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. This decision was celebrated by LGBTQ+ communities across the country and signaled a major step towards greater acceptance and equality.

However, despite legal progress, many challenges remain for LGBTQ+ individuals in India. Discrimination and stigma are still prevalent, particularly in more conservative areas and smaller towns and villages. Same-sex couples may face social ostracization and difficulties in finding acceptance within their families and communities. As such, while progress has been made towards greater LGBTQ+ rights and acceptance in India, it is important to note that there is still work to be done to create a more inclusive and accepting society.

Social cues and gender roles in India

In general, Indian society places a greater emphasis on family and community, and as a result, dating often involves more than just two people. Here are some social cues and gender roles that are common in Indian dating culture:

  1. Gender roles: Traditionally, men are expected to take the lead in dating and courtship. This means that men are often the ones who initiate conversations, ask for phone numbers, and plan dates. Women are expected to be more reserved and demure, and are often expected to wait for the man to make the first move.
  2. Family involvement: In India, family plays a crucial role in relationships. It’s not uncommon for parents to be heavily involved in their children’s dating lives, from helping to arrange marriages to providing advice and guidance on how to navigate relationships.
  3. Cultural norms: There are many cultural norms that shape dating in India, including the importance of arranged marriages, respect for elders and authority, and the expectation of modesty and decorum.
  4. PDA: Public displays of affection are not generally accepted in Indian society, especially in more conservative areas. Couples are expected to be more discreet when showing affection in public.
  5. Communication: Communication is important in any relationship, but it’s especially important in India. People are expected to be direct and honest with their partners, but also to be respectful and tactful.

Best places to visit in India for singles

One could spend a lifetime discovering all that India has to offer, but if you don’t have that much time, here are some places we think are great for meeting other like-minded singles:

  1. Mumbai – The city of dreams, Mumbai is a melting pot of cultures and offers a diverse range of experiences. From exploring its colonial heritage to indulging in delicious street food, to experiencing the nightlife, Mumbai has something for everyone.
  2. Goa – Goa is known for its beautiful beaches and laid-back atmosphere. It is a popular destination for solo travelers looking to relax, unwind, and meet new people.
  3. Delhi – Delhi is a great place for singles to explore the rich history and culture of India. The city has many historical sites such as the Red Fort and Qutub Minar, as well as bustling markets and vibrant nightlife.
  4. Jaipur – Jaipur is a beautiful city in Rajasthan known for its stunning architecture, vibrant culture, and rich history. It is a great place to explore the majestic palaces and forts, and to immerse oneself in the local culture.
  5. Rishikesh – Rishikesh is a spiritual destination located in the foothills of the Himalayas. It is a great place for solo travelers looking to reconnect with nature, meditate, and practice yoga.
  6. Varanasi – Varanasi is one of the oldest and holiest cities in India, located on the banks of the Ganges river. It is a great place for solo travelers looking to experience the spiritual and cultural side of India.
  7. Udaipur – Udaipur is a romantic and picturesque city in Rajasthan, known for its beautiful lakes, palaces, and gardens. It is a great place for singles looking for a more relaxed and peaceful experience.
  8. Hampi – Hampi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Karnataka. It is known for its stunning architecture, ancient temples, and natural beauty, making it a great destination for solo travelers looking for a unique and off-the-beaten-path experience.

Online dating in India

The online dating industry is extremely robust. In some ways it isn’t mainstream, while in other ways it’s quite mainstream. There are more than likely hundreds of dating sites in India, most all of them are not free. Free dating sites in India would usually be of poorer quality than paid subscription models. However, some dating websites and apps do have both.

In recent years, the online dating industry in India has grown significantly. However, it is not without its complications. One of the biggest challenges facing online dating in India is the cultural stigma attached to it. Despite the growing acceptance of dating in urban areas, many people still view it as something that is not socially acceptable, particularly for women.

Another challenge is the prevalence of fake profiles, catfishing and other scams on dating apps. With the rise of online dating, scammers have also found new ways to prey on unsuspecting users. This has led to a lack of trust in online dating platforms, with many people being cautious about sharing personal information or meeting up with people they have only met online.

Additionally, there are issues around privacy and security. Many people are hesitant to use dating apps because they are worried about their personal information being misused or their online activity being monitored. This is particularly true for women, who may be concerned about their safety when meeting up with strangers.

Further, because of these concerns the majority online dating users would be men. Therefore, the problems are exacerbated with imbalanced gender ratios.

Another challenge facing the online dating industry in India is the diversity of the country. India is a vast country with many different cultures and languages, and dating norms can vary widely depending on where you are. This can make it difficult for dating apps to cater to the needs of all users, particularly in rural areas where internet access may be limited.

Despite these challenges, the online dating industry in India is continuing to grow. Dating apps are finding new ways to cater to the needs of users, including by offering more privacy and security features, and by expanding their user base to include more diverse communities. With the right strategies in place, it is possible for online dating to become more widely accepted and to help people find meaningful connections in India.

Understanding the online dating game

In terms of the dating landscape in India, it is important to consider that there is a combination of factors going on. Let’s first start with a few scenarios:

  • Open to dating anyone – this is probably the most rare form of dating in India but younger generations, tourists or open-minded people may use these. These would typically be international dating apps or sites.
  • Indians abroad dating back home – Indians living abroad who might want to find a spouse from India. This would typically be males seeking females
  • Desi people seeking others with similar background – people from the region, may be interested in meeting someone with a similar background who understands their culture. These people don’t necessarily need to be from the same region
  • Intra-cultural dating – by this we mean specifics – like dating by language, culture or caste.

Top Dating Apps in India or are they dating sites?

In terms of international companies, the most popular apps are apps like Tinder, Bumble, Badoo, Happn and OK Cupid. These companies are varied in terms of their success in the market.

Tinder is probably the most invested and well known. Tinder also support 4 Indian languages: Bengali, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.

Bumble, a close second, launched around 2018 and has primarily focused on Hindi, even adding a Hinglish version of their app.

In terms of dating websites and apps in India, here are some very well known local versions below. We cannot determine which is the best dating site. That all depends on the end user and what they are looking for. Each Indian dating website offers something different.

  • Dil Mil: It is a dating app that is designed for South Asian singles. The app matches users based on their interests and preferences, and also offers features such as video profiles and chat rooms.
  • It is a popular matrimonial website in South Asia, where users can create profiles and search for potential partners based on their preferences.
  • TrulyMadly: It is a dating app that is popular in India, and offers features such as compatibility quizzes and video profiles to help users find matches.
  • Aisle: It is a dating app that is designed for urban, independent singles in South Asia. The app offers features such as privacy filters and in-app messaging to help users connect with matches.