Thursday, February 29, 2024
ArtThe modern ‘arranged’ dating

The modern ‘arranged’ dating

Humans have always had an unexplainable urge to find partners that fulfill their romantic urges. For as long as humans have recognized the urge to form romantic relationships, they have also recognized that finding an appropriate partner can be challenging, and that sometimes it is useful to get some help. From seeking help from friends to arranged marriages that are somehow still prevalent in some parts of the country, there is a tradition that is as old as time itself of romantic relationships arising not only from chance encounters between two individuals but also from the deliberate intervention of third parties. For the longest time those third parties heavily relied on their intuition, social ranking, financial backgrounds and other resources, which is to say that the resources available to these third parties remained the same: a broad social network, strong opinions about the sorts of people who belong together, and the willingness to apply those judgments to the formation of actual couples.

In the modern age, the desire to find a romantic partner endures as does the sense that doing so can be challenging. The resources available for meeting these challenges have changed, and many of these changes can be traced to the invention, spread, and now ubiquity of the Internet. Although the internet is a rather young concept to the world, it has become harder and harder to remember a time before it where humans had to do things without it.

Online dating is a fairly new concept in Ethiopia. In its early stages, it was heavily criticized for lacking the authenticity an in-person meet up provides, but in time the youth realized how little time there is in one’s life to meet an appropriate match. So most young people resorted to web-based meet ups, where they could talk to their potential partners extensively before they have a chance to meet them in real life. This concept might be alien to the older generation for they want their kids to find their partners “the good old-fashioned way.”

Many local online dating apps have emerged recently, most making the Ethiopian Diaspora community their focus. Applications like Lolaz dating app make their main focus the local Ethiopian community, offering a safe and ratable online dating experience to anyone willing to use the app. The founder and creator of the app, Frezer Hailu, said his main motivation for starting lolaz was the lack of suitable prospects in real time; the people we meet are usually limited to the social circles we keep, and our social circles are highly dictated by work. We spend half our day working and the other half is either spent resting or hanging out with the same group of people we know. It isn’t as easy as it was a couple of decades ago, our generation has an extreme social anxiety that we can’t just randomly walk up to a person and engage in a deep-rooted conversation, at least most of us can’t. Online dating gives you a higher chance of finding “the one” due to its huge member population. Online dating gives hope to those people who have a thin dating market and have little time to meet other people. The internet gives everyone the opportunity to connect with different types of people and that might be why its popularity is rising.

Most dating apps that advertise themselves as sights for Ethiopians are not free. Frezer noticed this issue and how the majority of Ethiopians are not going to be able to pay for online services, which motivated him to create a spatial based dating app that is free to use for anyone and everyone, with an algorithm that lets you choose your preferences beforehand to curate the perfect match.

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The app has had over 5000 users even though it is still in its beta testing stage. Frezer stated that more and more young people are resorting to apps that are curated for the Western world, underscoring “There is nothing wrong with western dating apps, in fact most of our interface is like theirs except our app is specifically curated for Ethiopians by Ethiopians. It is not a hustle to download and most importantly it is free to use. We want to make the dating experience enjoyable for our clients, which is why our app focuses on the safety and satisfaction of our users.”

Similar apps are surfacing with more and more users testifying to the authenticity and validity of online dating. People have met their life partners using similar apps; so the future of match making might be dating apps. It gives an opportunity for people who are too shy to start communicating with others and don’t have enough time for dating. This tool would give every person a chance to choose which is the right match for them. You will no longer feel pressured into entering a relationship without knowing if you might be compatible or not. One can think of it this way, it’s like a modern form of arranged marriage; with or without the marriage. That would be a modern arranged dating. So go out there and dip your feet in the unfamiliarly vast pool of the internet to find your next match.

Contributed by Yosthena Ayenalem

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Video from Enat Bank Youtube Channel.

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