Travelling to Afghanistan regularly, it’s always fascinating to see the things that first-time visitors notice. The things that get their attention, the differences they find the most shocking and the similarities they find most interesting. One thing that almost universally interests our younger guests is the accessibility of dating apps in Afghanistan.
Unlike in other conservative Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iran and to a certain extent the smaller Gulf States, Afghanistan simply doesn’t have the infrastructure and will to worry about banning any mobile applications and very little in the way of banning websites. They’ve got a major long-lasting conflict to deal with and thus it’s just not on their list of priorities, and as such, apps such as Tinder and Grindr are easily accessed and used.
And it seems an increasing number of younger guys and girls are turning to dating apps to speak to others online. In a still conservative society it’s always been very hard to meet like-minded individuals of the same sex let alone of the opposite sex and with repercussions high, these apps allow for anonymity, and the ability to meet other individuals with a much lower chance of having issues.
Since it’s usually such a shocking discovery that these mobile applications are not blocked, it’s very common for someone to open up their phone while having the rest of the group looking over their shoulders, curious as to what’s on offer. Phones will get passed around at lunch with someone proclaiming a new find.
However, on one occasion I was in Kabul with a German female friend who had decided to open up Tinder in the comfort of her own room. She had begun chatting to a local guy, very cautiously of course, being very careful not to give any information away about where she was staying, where she was going to be travelling or even where she had been travelling. Avoiding names, she still enjoyed thoroughly learning from her mid-20s suitor who worked in the NGO game in Afghanistan and spoke almost perfect English. She came up to me the following day and asked what my thoughts were about her actually meeting this guy.
I proceeded to speak to some Afghan friends to get their advice. We decided to proceed and chose an appropriate café. Then me, two Afghan friends, and the German friend ready for her Afghani hunk, headed to the café where her prospective suitor was waiting. We spoke to him a bit, realised he was a very nice guy who was just over the moon at a date with a German girl (probably something he’ll be telling his friends about for many years to come), and knew how to negate any risks due to his own line of work, so we left them to their own devices.
That being said, that was a still very rare occurrence and the majority of those on these apps are either in the US military (especially on Grindr), or working for NGOs or embassies. Many I know have had fun chatting to them but ultimately found the experience to be exhausting and ultimately not that rewarding – constant warnings from an embassy worker or foreign soldier explaining how dangerous it is outside of their own bubble, followed by realisations that they’ve never actually spoken to an Afghan or seen any of the country other than from behind bullet proof glass or the scope on a rifle.
So if you want to get your dating apps in Afghanistan, good luck to you, but don’t get too excited about what it might lead to!