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In their search for love, South Asians swipe right on dating apps catered for them

Anumita Kaur, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Dating Advice

Then she dated someone outside of her culture. "He was an awesome guy, but he was Caucasian, and that kind of opened this whole can of a lot of really tough times with my parents," Tatapudy said.

Her parents would ask, "Is it going to be comfortable for us to come over? Is it going to feel comfortable for you to bring your music, your dance, all these other aspects of yourself?"

Eventually, the weight of their cultural gaps and the pressure of acting as a bridge between her partner and her parents, compounded by the natural ups and downs of a new relationship, were too much to bear. "The issues that we had came down to … me having to explain a lot," she said. "There's no sort of natural understanding of things, right?"

Tatapudy then did what many 20-somethings would do: She turned to dating apps.

She was familiar with Coffee Meets Bagel — and went on "what felt like a million dates" — but at a friend's suggestion, she downloaded Dil Mil. She already recognized that she went on more dates with Indian guys anyway, and the dating app made the process more efficient.

Dil Mil encourages connection through culture. When it asks users to highlight personality traits, descriptors such as "chai drinker," "Bollywood buff" and "bhangra dancer" are sprinkled among general adjectives such as "carefree," "charismatic" and "considerate."

 

In some ways, the dating app scene wasn't far from her parents' arranged marriage traditions. You might speak to multiple people during the arranged marriage process before settling on someone, Tatapudy said.

Dil Mil may still require a slight leap of faith akin to an arranged marriage: The app offers options across the nation, not just in your locality, the way mainstream apps do. This means you might talk to somebody for weeks before meeting them in person.

For Tatapudy and her now-husband, that didn't prove to be a problem. She matched with Sandheep Venkataraman in 2018 after about six months on the app. (His profile said that whoever swiped right would be in for a lot of Costco trips, and she shared her story while in a Costco parking lot).

"As we were chatting, he talked about going to an A.R. Rahman concert, and I was like, 'Oh my gosh, that's great, there's hope, he likes A.R. Rahman,' " she said, noting her love for the popular Indian composer.

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