To understand Japanese dating sites, the first thing you need to realize is that many don’t seem like dating sites at all.
Yet the messages the app sends your inbox don’t sound as wholesome. Models, nursery school teachers, nurses, nutritionists, college students, office ladies [receptionists]–we’ve got them all! It quickly reassures me that “You won’t see your Facebook friends in Pairs” and “Facebook won’t show your history of searches in Pairs.” It may as well have said, “We know you’re ashamed of using our business, but don’t worry, your secret is safe with us.”“Our design is more for women,” says Takeru Kawashita, marketing chief of Pairs.
“Previous deiaikei sites were made with a male mindset.” What he means is that their site is made for husband hunting.
So why is the subject so touchy in Japan, a technologically hip country (their ketai cellphones surfed the Web long before our smart phones) that otherwise seems comfortable discussing sex?
Given Japan’s dating and demographic crisis, why the squeamishness about meeting in cyberspace?
Widening their eyes, they blushed, as if I’d said something dirty and controversial.
It’s a bit of a mystery: Japanese dating sites–known as deaikei–are numerous and thriving, with apps like Pairs, Match Alarm, Niku Kai, and Yahoo Omiai attracting growing numbers of fans.
“Why have Japanese young people stopped having sex? In New York City, where I live, meeting potential partners digitally is normal: one in five American relationships today begin online, as Fast Company contributor Dan Slater reports in his book Love in the Time of Algorithms.
Few uncoupled twentysomethings in New York haven’t at least tried a dating site, whether they’re searching for serious relationships or quick hookups.
I decide to be up front with her about my intentions (journalistic, not romantic) and send a note explaining that I’m a writer from New York who’s interested in talking to her about her experiences.