Designing for Love

Brown people love to date other brown people. How do you design for that?

Meghna Rao

August 8, 2019

Designing for Love
Prince Salim (the future Jahangir) and his legendary illicit love, the dancing girl Anarkali (1940's)

He was cute, so I pressed the heart next to his picture on Hinge. The next day, we met for tacos in San Francisco’s Mission District. Mid-bite, he admitted, “I can’t believe we’re really meeting.” My date, who was Indian American, confided that he kept matching with Indian women who would reveal after entire conversations that they were actually from Philadelphia, New Jersey, and Texas — they had changed their locations to match with people in Silicon Valley.

My date was miffed, but I was impressed. It was smart, savvy South Asian dating at its finest. San Francisco had more men than women, an abundance of well-paid software engineers, and many South Asians. Despite what Mindy Kaling might have you think, brown people still like to be romantically involved with other brown people, generations after moving from South Asia.

“It’s more than romantic involvement,” Akash Karanth, a software engineer from New Jersey told me. “It’s marriage. South Asian Americans are one track-minded.” It’s a fine balance. A dating site for the South Asian millennial must replace vast networks of aunties and uncles that have historically arranged marriages and also be cool enough to compete with the Hinges and Tinders of the world.