Are matchmaking sites the right place to find a life partner?

KUALA LUMPUR: In recent years, dating and matchmaking apps and websites have surged in popularity, offering opportunities for singles to connect and form relationships.

However, this also brings the risk of becoming entangled in love scams, many cases of which have been reported in the media, with victims losing thousands or even millions of ringgit to scammers who promised them love and marriage.

Nevertheless, online matchmaking sites, regardless of whether their services are free or otherwise, continue to be the choice of many people – not only globally but in Malaysia as well – seeking a life partner or helping a friend or relative to find one.

According to a study titled ‘Match to Marriage’ involving Muslims and carried out by creative agency TBWA Asia through its Malaysian unit, Halal Wave, it was found that 77.8 percent of the unmarried respondents tended to use technology to find a potential partner.

The findings were based on data from 158,586 social media conversations and 16 interviews conducted by Halal Wave from 2021 to 2023 across five countries: Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Baituljannah, a Malaysian digital matchmaking platform for Muslims, is also seeing a rise in the number of singles using their services. Its founder and managing director Dr Wan Hasifi Amin Wan Zaidon said over 1.10 million users from Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei are registered with Baituljannah, which was launched in May 2017.

“So far, 2.5 percent, or about 30,000, of them have gotten married,” he told Bernama.

Vouching for the platform’s safety, Dr Wan Hasifi Amin said every conversation made within the application is monitored by administrators who act as companions or chaperones to deter sexual or other forms of harassment.

“We use a system that does not allow users to change their phone numbers and social media accounts,” he said, adding, “In the chat room, there is a meter called the ‘Compatibility Meter’, where if the meter reaches 100 percent, a form called ‘Taaruf Luar’ (face-to-face meeting) will be displayed.”

Through this form, he explained, users can exchange their phone numbers but on the condition that they verify their accounts by taking a selfie with their identity card.

“This is important to ensure the authenticity of their identities, as well as to prevent any unwanted incident when they meet face-to-face,” he said.

He said couples given the go-ahead to meet are also encouraged to bring along a friend or guardian when meeting each other for the first time.

Meanwhile, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities senior lecturer Associate Prof Dr Khadijah Alavi said the controlled use of matchmaking portals can help young people expand their social connections, particularly those wishing to form relationships leading to marriage.

She said the convenience offered by such platforms allows users, especially youths, to filter their potential partners based on their desired criteria before transitioning to a more serious phase.

“Matchmaking applications can help individuals, who remain single due to their careers or education, to find suitable partners,” she said.

Khadijah, however, warned such platforms can be abused by married people seeking extramarital affairs.

Sharing her experience, private-sector employee Athirah Rahmad, 33, said she had been approached by married men on a matchmaking app she used to be registered with. Now she is happily married to a man she met on the same app.

“(Before I met my husband) many married men tried to get acquainted with me. Their reasons for doing so ranged from boredom to wanting to release stress, but I blocked them all immediately,” she told Bernama.