Smashing the myths around youth dating culture.
Being in a steady relationship with the second boyfriend of my life has resulted in me being a total stranger to this new world of dating I keep hearing, reading and watching Netflix originals about; and I suffer from an acute condition of FOMO. So when I miss out on something I try my best to experience it vicariously.
Don’t get me wrong, I downloaded dating apps too (just so I could check out what the hype was all about) but, in a few hours my brother came back home with a disgusted face and confessed, “You showed up on my Tinder…and your DP sucks.”
Open Instagram and check out food videos.
So I picked up the phone, made some calls and decided to be privy to the dating world through the experiences of others. It wasn’t just FOMO. It was also an indomitable urge to find out if the opinions that were making the rounds were true. Was it really depressing youngsters, ruining relationships and making it harder for people to stay committed to their respective partners? Or was it simply a change that was trampling long-standing social constructs and making people uncomfortable. Was the stigma around dating apps justified?
“There are all kinds of people out there,” said almost everyone I spoke to. It turns out the web is a place where you can find love, lust, friendship and much more. I had heard the usual things people have to say about online dating but having just moved to a new city and looking to meet new people, I decided to give it a try. A friend of mine found a decent guy she dated for a while till he moved abroad and I thought, ‘Well, why not?’ I made my profile, put up some nice pictures and left out the description bit because I couldn’t think of anything. What was most important was that I joined it with zero expectations. I knew the worst that could happen would be that I went out on no dates and deleted the app.
It’s a match. Image source: kampustoday.com
I matched with almost everyone I swiped right for (and every other girl I spoke to said the same thing), and went out with five men from different walks of life and all of them went well. Some were just one night stands, some became really good friends and some just fizzled out. And then I stopped using it.
Why? Well, for starters I am dating someone now and it kind of got a little tiring because I would invest a lot of time in getting to know as much as I possibly could about the person on the app before I actually met them in person. But I would use it again if I were single because it’s a great way to meet people. I don’t understand why so many people trash these apps. It really depends on how and what you use it for. If you can use your discretion wisely and follow simple rules like - always meet the person for the first time at a public place rather than their house etc. It's a safe way to date. If one keeps in mind these basics then it can be really fun. In fact if you think about it, it’s safer than meeting someone at a bar because you are behind the safety of your screen.”
Behind the screen. Image source: lovesite.ro
From what I gathered, a friend too had a great time meeting people through the app, including a 28 year old guy who had never been on a date before. Another friend of mine who recently shifted to the city after living in Hyderabad said, “Some of my friends were using the app and going on great dates. Sure I ghosted some people and some people ghosted me. Sure, swiping left for a person who doesn’t look good is superficial but we’d do that in a bar too. It’s natural to want to be with people you are physically attracted to. I am very traditional when it comes to dating but, I was single and looking to have fun.”
“What do you think about people saying that apps like these are ruining dating culture and creating commitment issues among the youth because they make it easy to find someone else?” I inquired.
“I think its complete bullshit! It totally depends on the person. If you are with someone and you’re feeling attracted to someone else, then what does that say about your relationship? The issue is not with dating apps, it’s with people. I think it’s just an excuse. I have used Tinder and yet I am having absolutely no problems being committed to my boyfriend. All this stigmatizing is rubbish. Everyone should be on a dating site. I made some great friends I am still in touch with.”
Love in the times of Tinder. Image source: medium.com
Another friend whose dating habits I found quite unique is a 30 year old music composer currently living in Mumbai.
“I am the biggest advertiser for online dating there is,” said my self-proclaimed Tinder loyalist friend. “I first started using it a couple of years ago because I had shifted to Mumbai and was lonely. I think what made it a wonderful experience for me was the fact that I used it with zero expectations. I hooked up, almost fell in love, made so many friends and got to meet more people through the friends I made on it.”
What to me was really intriguing was the fact that he is currently in a relationship and continues to use the app with his girlfriend’s knowledge and NOT to hook up. In fact, he is fully committed to her.
“I have made it very clear to everyone I chat with that I am not looking for anything physical any more. And guess what? People don’t think it’s weird. They understand and respect my decision and I still use it very regularly to talk to people.”
He truly is a committed harbinger of the app for my conversation with him was the longest. He continued, “What’s this crap about how superficial it is? People are superficial. Yes, you see a photo and judge them by it. Isn’t that what they do outside the app as well? In fact I think what’s great about these apps is the fact that it allows you to be completely honest and since everyone else is being that way as well no one really minds. It’s like a safe environment for people to be who they truly are and there’s no forced formality.”
Another 29 year old guy working at an HR consultancy in Kolkata seemed to have an entirely different opinion. “I used Tinder and Aisle. On Tinder you can judge people based on their looks and on Aisle you can filter them out based on their religion and looks.” He wrapped the whole thing up in one sentence, “it made no difference to my life and I hated the interface,” and then added, “perhaps because I was using it in Calcutta which is still a 100 years behind. I only found funny people who weren’t at all dateable.”
A friend of mine from Delhi who is also a musician and 27 said, “It was good when I used it initially. My first date was just great and then it just went downhill but people should totally use it because it can be fun!”
From these varied conversations I gathered two things:
1) Women were having more fun on dating apps than men, who got much fewer matches.
2) No one particularly felt dating apps had anything to do with creating commitment issues and said it depended on the person.
Grinding with Grindr. Image source: dailydot.com
Just to ensure variety, I spoke to the coolest gay friend I have, who is 28, works at an Ad agency in Delhi and has zero F*&^S to give. He has been using Grindr avidly for almost ten years now (Fun fact: Grindr came to India years before Tinder did) and has used Tinder as well. Talking about his experiences on these apps he said, “I don’t think you can fit my experience in an article. It is so colorful sometimes I think I should have my own web series. I will just sit in front of a camera, roll my eyes and give my one liners. I really think I could make it Ellen’s show, you know?”
Laughing uncontrollably for almost two hours, Shib walked me through his dates.
He got robbed by two people who had come over for a threesome.
He met married men with children who were closeted and had decided to continue being that way till eternity.
Bisexuals, confused straight people, curious straight people, curious straight people who didn’t want to have sex, gay people who wanted to have sex but not kiss. You name it. He had seen it all.
Shib describes their kind as ‘diluted gay people’ and expressing grief he said, “It’s a great place to hook up, but for varied reasons it’s been really hard for me to find concentrated gay people. They are adulterated by skepticism, bisexuality or curiosity. As such, most of my dates stop at being a one night or at best several nights’ stands and to be honest I couldn’t care less.”
“So do you think people should be on these apps?”
“Of course! Everyone should have their own experience. Also I think in a society like ours Grindr is perhaps the most viable option for gay people to meet other men. You just have to proceed with zero expectations or do what I do.”
“What do you do,” I asked laughing, knowing it would be something funny.
“I just have this process where I uninstall the app every now and then when I feel dejected, but then I feel bored which is worse than dejected so I just download it again!” As parting advice to the world he said, “Be wary of people who share their dick sizes before they say hello…”
What I realized was this:
1) The myth: Dating apps are making it hard for people to be committed.
2) The truth: Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.
Everyone is swiping. Image source: india.com
Every other day I find sponsored posts on my newsfeed asking me to read articles lashing out at millennials for their approach to dating, with headlines like “Is the institution of marriage dying,” “Why is it becoming so hard for the youth of today to find love?” “Is the entire Gen-Y a bunch of commitment phobic Tinder addicts?” et al. I often wonder why everyone is suddenly so worried about young people’s personal choices instead of say, how the economy is affecting youth employment or bilateral relations with developed countries impacting the growth of our indigenous sectors. However, what seems to be clear is that dating apps have penetrated the lives of most single people and are here to stay.
So keep calm and continue browsing, because if you’re having issues committing, you probably don’t want to.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are independent views solely of the author(s) expressed in their private capacity and do not in any way represent or reflect the views of 101India.com.
By Anisha Singh
Cover photo credit: eeyuva.com