Online Dating in Asia:

Should it be taken seriously?


Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Online dating in Asia – Should it be taken seriously?

Without a doubt, online dating apps have grown in popularity over the years, and this growth accelerated during the pandemic when countries went into lockdown and social distancing became the norm. How these apps are being used and the reasons for using them, however, can differ greatly from one country to the next. This is especially true in a region like Asia, which is richly diverse in terms of culture and ethnicity.

GMO Research has conducted a survey to look more closely into consumer attitudes towards online dating in Asia. The survey spanned six countries: Japan, Korea, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand. This article provides insights into how online dating apps are being used in Asia and also takes a peek at how truthful app users are across different countries in Asia.

When asked why they use a dating app, the top reason given by app users in Malaysia (30.9%), India (26.9%), and Indonesia (26.8%) is “looking for new friends”. Most app users in Korea (44.3%) and Thailand (38.9%), however, are “just curious”. Japan is the only country where the top reason given for using a dating app is to look for a serious relationship.

With the exception of Malaysia and Korea, most dating app users in the countries surveyed have met up with people they have connected with online. In India, 70.1% of dating app users have physically met people they connected with online. In Indonesia, 68.2% of people have done so, and in Japan and Thailand, close to 65% of app users have met up in person.

How many dating app users have actually developed a relationship with someone they met online? The answer is rather split between the different countries. Most app users in Thailand (61.6%), India (64.0%), and Indonesia (63.6%) reported developing a relationship with someone they met online. However, there is a higher proportion of app users in Japan (52.8%), Malaysia (67.6%), and Korea (68.5%) who have not developed a relationship with someone they met online.

The GMO survey also sheds some light on the truthfulness of dating app users across different countries in Asia. A high proportion of app users in India admitted to fabricating their profiles; at 70.1%, this is the highest proportion among the countries surveyed. Next highest is Thailand, where 69.2% of app users fabricate their profiles. In contrast, in the other countries surveyed, most app users do not fabricate their profiles. At 67.8%, Korea has the highest proportion of app users whose profiles are authentic. This is followed by Malaysia at 64.8% and Japan at 61.3%.

Among app users who fabricate their profiles, age is the most common area of fabrication in Thailand (41.0%), India (58.9%), and Indonesia (30.6%). App users in Japan and Korea, however, prefer to edit and touch up their profile pictures. Malaysia is a little different from the others: app users here have a greater tendency to misrepresent their current relationship status than anything else.

Many countries in Asia are rather conservative, and casual relationships associated with online dating are frowned upon. This might be one of the underlying reasons why a large proportion of people in Asia have not engaged in online dating. The GMO survey sought to find out more about the reasons behind this reluctance to use dating apps among consumers in Asia. One popular reason is the preference for making a connection in person. This is the top reason given in Thailand (43.0%), Malaysia (53.9%), and Indonesia (53.9%). In India and Korea, the top reason for staying away from dating apps is a distrust of strangers met online. In Japan, most respondents feel that using a dating app would affect them negatively.

Overall, it seems there is some level of distrust in online dating among consumers in Asia. At the same time, there has been an increase in the adoption rate of dating apps, especially since the onset of COVID-19. This could signify increased acceptance of online dating as a means of seeking a romantic relationship. And as social distancing continues to be a mainstay of the “new normal”, more people are expected to turn to alternative methods for making a romantic connection.

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