CultureInternets Sima Aunty 2.0: How AI Is Revolutionising Online Dating

Sima Aunty 2.0: How AI Is Revolutionising Online Dating

In the digital dance of hearts, every "like" and every swipe comes with a hidden cost– our data. Is this trade-off for love worth it? And can AI, the new global cupid, help us navigate the rollercoaster ride of online dating?
» Editors Note: #MoodOfTheMonth for January 2024 is Love In Digital Era. We invite submissions on this theme throughout the month. If you would like to contribute, kindly refer to our submission guidelines and email your articles to

Remember the days of stealthy encounters and handwritten love letters? In the age of digital connection, love has migrated from moonlit strolls to reach a new address: your phone’s message box. Dating apps have effortlessly dethroned the likes of Sima Aunty’s regressive matchmaking, becoming the go-to matchmakers. 

But in this digital dance of hearts, every “like” and every swipe comes with a hidden cost– our data. Is this trade-off for love worth it? And can AI, the new global cupid, help us navigate the rollercoaster ride of online dating or is it just a sophisticated makeover of the same old pitfalls? Buckle up, lovebirds, as we delve into the fascinating, and sometimes frightening world of AI-powered online dating.

Tracking the roots of Indian matchmaking 

The opulent world of arranged marriages, as presented in the infamous Netflix series Indian Matchmaking, captivated audiences, particularly the West who love revelling in big-fat-Indian weddings. However, beneath the charming facade and bittersweet entertainment lies a complex reality, steeped in discriminatory practices based on caste, class, height, skin tone, and dowry (read: gifts).

Source: Netflix

Matchmaking in India dates back to as early as the fourth century, initially serving as a tool to preserve caste endogamy. The Nayan, as the traditional matchmaker was called, holds the needle. A trusted family friend (read: the distant “wellwisher” aunt), becomes the neutral go-between, weaving “suitable”  matches based on anything but love– “matching horoscopes,” family background, reputation, and the quintessential criteria of “slim, tall, beautiful girl, but with a good nature.” Much like God, the fate of two lives lies in the Nayan’s hands.

While the system has evolved, with an estimated 80 per cent of marriages still arranged by families, its essence remains largely embedded in societal norms. Sima Taparia, the self-acclaimed, Grammy-nominated top matchmaker of Mumbai and the limelight stealer of Indian Matchmaking, who strongly believes that “matching horoscopes is like insurance in a marriage,” navigates this intricate world catering primarily to affluent families and upholding traditional ideals.

But well, the timeless Cupid’s arrow has given way to the algorithms of AI, and online dating has undergone a dramatic transformation.

AI being Cupid’s wingman

While “artificial” conjures images of robots and dominance, these virtual matchmakers will inevitably transform our most fundamental experiences, including how we find love.

AI and dating
Source: The Washington Post

Fueled by shows like Million Dollar Matchmaker, Indian Matchmaking, and a pandemic-induced yearning for connection, matchmaking is experiencing a resurgence. However, the industry hasn’t yet managed to surpass its orthodox beliefs with some matchmakers charging hefty fees without disclosing success rates.

Here’s where online dating conquered the matchmaking industry. 

Meeting someone on a dating app is no longer unconventional; it’s the new norm. Recent data from App Annie, a mobile data and analytics platform, reveals a surge in global online dating expenditure, with users spending the highest monthly expenditure of $505 million in January 2024 alone! With this, the global data by Statista too should be recorded– 366 million users in 2022 with an estimated rise to 440 million by 2027. 

However, navigating the virtual dating space can make us “swiping addicts” with the never-ending swiping marathon, the robotic small talk sessions, and the heartache that follows a two-month “textationship,” the situation of a romantic affiliation that was limited to text communication with no in-person dates. Despite the occasional ghosting-induced self-doubt, we find ourselves unable to resist the magnetic pull of dating apps, endlessly scrolling with the hope of finding the one.

Fortunately, AI is emerging as a potent ally in our quest for love. From refined recommendations to enhanced security features, AI is revolutionising popular dating apps. A survey by Attractiontruth, an AI dating coach, found that 20 per cent of men use AI tools like ChatGPT to craft compelling bios and personalised messages, aiming to stand out in crowded online dating places.

Bumble founder Whitney Wolfe Herd too believes in the power of AI– “I think we can help a lot of people across the world find their happiness a lot quicker, a lot safer, and a lot better.”

From eHarmony’s lengthy questionnaires, OkCupid’s “match percentages,” to Bumble’s AI image detection, Tinder’s Elo rating system and Hinge’s compatibility-focused Gale-Shapley algorithm – today’s dating apps employ AI to create more precise and potentially successful connections.

Wondering how AI manages to flood your dating feed with meaty prospects? Take a look.

Offering personalisation at its finest

A pivotal aspect of online dating platforms revolves around user profiles. While users create profiles with basic information like name, age, and so on, accuracy often falls short, hindering effective matchmaking. 

AI and dating
Source: Business Standard

AI algorithms bridge this gap by analysing users’ social media profiles, online behaviour, and interests, with precision to build complete profiles. From personalised match suggestions to customised icebreakers, this capability facilitates more refined matchmaking, boosting the process of manual swiping. 

Sean Rad, CEO of Tinder, aptly describes artificial intelligence (AI) as a savvy filter that discerns individuals’ interests and delivers content tailored to their preferences. This concept is exemplified by Lara,’s chatbot, which collaborates with Google Assistant to recommend ideal date venues in your vicinity. Similarly, eHarmony’s AI studies user behaviours to determine the perfect times for communication.

Protecting your heart (and wallet) online

With numerous catfishing and scams associated with online dating, ensuring the authenticity of user-profiles and safeguarding against fraudulent accounts and inappropriate content are pivotal concerns in online dating. 

AI and dating
Source: cosmopolitan

AI can scrutinise vast amounts of personal data, which sparks concerns regarding potential misuse or exposure of sensitive information. It also mitigates the prevalence of catfishing and enhances user trust through multifactor verification methods, including government ID and selfie verifications. 

Platforms like Tinder use machine learning tools to identify and address potentially offensive content, fostering a more respectful and inclusive environment. Bumble, too has introduced an AI-powered lewd image detector with a remarkable 99 per cent efficacy rate in 2019. This initiative has prompted legislative action against “cyberflashing,” the modern form of cybersexual harassment, in multiple states.

Don’t let typos tank your dating game!

Crafting the perfect dating profile takes effort– choosing the right photos, and writing a witty bio… but did you know two typos can slash your response rate by 14 per cent? Apparently, good grammar ranks higher on your date’s wishlist than pearly whites and confidence!

Fear not, love-seekers! AI can always be your secret weapon. It not only corrects typos and grammatical errors in your profile and messages but also analyses sentiment to ensure you come across as friendly and respectful.

So ditch the typos, boost your dating game, and woo the grammar nazis too! After all, love might just be a well-written message away. 

The icebreaker to your small talks

Remember that awkward silence after swiping right? AI is here to ditch the dreaded what’s your favourite colour and spark engaging conversations with your potential matches.

AI-powered chatbots can suggest icebreakers that are witty, relevant, and guaranteed to break the tension. No more scrambling for conversation starters– conversational AI can even facilitate natural-flowing dialogues, making the online dating experience more enjoyable and less daunting.

But AI’s benefits go beyond breaking the ice. Some apps employ AI to filter and screen inappropriate messages, creating a safer and more respectful environment for everyone. So, you can focus on building genuine connections without worrying about unwanted advances.

So with AI as your wingman, don’t let your introverted soul dampen your spirits! Get out there and chat with confidence.

The future of love in the age of AI

The world of online dating is a complex dance between hope and scepticism. While AI offers exciting possibilities for streamlining connections, a recent study by McAfee paints a concerning picture: 77 per cent of Indians have encountered fake profiles, and 39 per cent have unknowingly chatted with scammers. This highlights the need for responsible implementation and user awareness.

AI and dating
Source: Medium

Despite these concerns, the allure of AI persists. Over 65 per cent of Indians have used AI to create their profiles for crafting romantic messages. This begs the question– how can you win your prospect’s heart using AI?

The answer lies in authenticity. Research suggests genuine interest in others, originality, and a touch of humour are far more attractive than self-absorption or braggadocio. After all, AI can’t replicate the spark and pain of poems penned from the bottom of the heart!

As we navigate the future of online dating, let’s embrace AI as a ‘tool,’ to enhance the experience, and not consider it as a magic wand to instantly find our significant other. Paulo Coelho’s words in The Alchemist ring true– “I love you because the entire universe conspired to help me find you.” Perhaps AI can be of little help along with the universe. 

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