Flashback to First Dates (in a pre-Tinder era)

Jalebi:

There isn’t much that makes me feel how I am, or how far I have come than looking back at the person I was in school. I was always an outspoken person, but the thought of actually liking a boy or *shudder* ‘have to tell him something’ was never something I considered. After finding out that I am actually desirable to boys in my class, through two boys sending me chits that said “I like you” *eye roll*, I was considered rather forward. But the thought of being in a relationship with either of them was just outright scary.

After the summer, when we came back to class eight, I had started talking to one of them over the phone. We would walk back from school to the Nerul station (barely a 500m walk) and spend a few minutes talking everyday, hiding from the sight of our batch-mates and school teachers. Our conversations continued on phone, and we had popularly become one of the first class couples.

Along with a lot of denial, there were also hesitant “dates” with other almost-couple friends to the nearby mall where we would sit awkwardly in the food court blushing into our food and drinks. All of this slightly empowering romance ended gradually after about 6 months when the profession of love was met with a ‘Thank you’.

I have since then refused to call this my first relationship, preferring to give my next boyfriend the honour.

I look back at those days and wonder how the tiniest of gestures that carried so much weight then, we now find silly. Those were the times when a kiss was considered risque.

Pattu:
This was so so so long ago – when the word *dating* wasn’t even a part of our vocabulary. In the late 90s / early 2000s, the words ‘boyfriend’ & ‘girlfriend’ were used but not ‘dating’.

This is how it happened. In 1998, when I was in Junior College (Class 11), a friend gave me some guy’s number … someone she knew. I think he got her number from another friend of hers. This was when there were no mobile phones, just landlines. We (or was it just me?) called this guy and I can’t remember what I said about how I got his number but we started talking on the phone.

We used to talk for long hours, and turns out we had some friends in common. This went on for a few months. Internet proliferation was low, email ids were new, personal computers were not so common etc., so we were unable to send pictures or video chat, and hence hadn’t seen each other.

One day we decided to meet. And, of course, I cannot remember whose bleddy idea it was to meet. His or mine! What I do remember that we met in the monsoon. And we had decided to meet at this restaurant that was a 10 mins walk from my house. To have ice cream. We both had butterflies in the tummy, and our friends were waiting to hear from us about each other. I remember the table we sat at – the first table on the right near the entrance. I remember him smiling a lot. I think I had a vanilla ice cream and he, a strawberry ice cream.

The only thing is I didn’t know it was A DATE. Nor did he. I realized it was a date (as I know it today) only after 10 effing years of going on it.

(We continued meeting each other, hanging out, etc. for a couple of years. I kept waiting for him to ask me out – as in to be his ‘girlfriend’. And he never did. As he told me several years later, he used to like me a lot too but didn’t ask me out as he thought I was too good for him. :-S)

Roo:
Back in high school and through college, I barely dated. Heck, I don’t even remember going out much. Now when I look back, I wonder what I did during those years especially when my close friends were having a whale of a time with their boy friend(s). I was / still am the kind who gets along with guys easily and so the thin line between girl-friend and girlfriend was never there (at least not for me).

Hmmm. My first date in its true sense was in 2003. Was set up by a friend, she gave me this guy’s phone number and that was it. Very hesitantly I sent him a text and wham, we started chatting and decided to meet for dinner one evening.

He was older, came from a whole different world than what I was used to but was so much fun to chat with. We would go to and fro on email about our fav food joints in the city.. The evening of our ‘date’, he picked me up near my office. We went for a long drive to the Valmiki Nagar-seaward Beach. On the way we grabbed a pizza from Giorgio(don’t think the place exists anymore) along with few beers as well.

We sat in his car, yapped away for hours about everything and anything, drank ate and yapped some love. There was this amazing comfort … before we knew it, was nearly midnight. He dropped me home, and well, we kept meeting almost every week for about 6 months. There was no chemistry, but we just connected and continued meeting, going on long drives (longest was all the way to Vivanta by Taj-Fisherman’s cove)

Am still in touch with him, we meet once in awhile (he moved out of Chennai, does visit cos his folks are here). He makes sure to wish me on my birthday (says it is easy to remember since his mom’s bday is on same day) … Sweet memories indeed. :-))

Peaty:
I tried and tried and tried to remember my first date pre-tinder, and kept coming up blank. Like I’ve said before, I didn’t really date in my teens or my early-mid twenties, so the first ever date would have to be my date with this lovely older man who is still a great friend of mine.

The Scene: An LGBTQIA event in a bar in Bangalore. As an owner of a second hand DSLR with nowhere to practice, I had offered to take photos of the event. I was roaming all around the room, climbing on ledges and squatting in the pit, trying to get photos of the performers on a dimly lit stage. This extremely attractive man with a salt and pepper beard walked up to me and started chatting me up. I was oblivious of his interest, focusing with rather tunnel-visioned intent on my camera.

I was also shy, and not used to talking to strangers.

He asked for my email, and said he wanted to see the photos. And told me he’d like to get dinner with me sometime. I was so shocked, I laughed in his face, but I gave him my number and email anyway.

After a week of flirting via text (MY FIRST TIME FLIRTING, YOU GUYS), we had a really intimate and sweet dinner at Cafe Max. I had two glasses of wine, he drank water. We shared a salad, I got some pasta, and he, stroganoff. I forced him to share some cake with me. We got there at 8, and spent 3 hours there, till the waiter hovered over our table with the bill.

Every time I visit Bangalore, I make it a point to look him up and take him out for a meal. Because he introduced me to the idea of romance. And because even if unavailable for love, he himself is lovely.

First Date Tips

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The four of us have different perspectives on first dates: Pattu and Roo aim for familiarity, both in venue and clothing, so they feel comfortable immediately. Jalebi likes good food no matter how bad the date is, and picks the venue accordingly. Peaty will meet a date anywhere, yes, including her home. However, all of us feel the need for comfort, and plan for it.

In a highly unscientific survey, we reached out to our readers in Twitter and asked them how they approached first dates. Almost everyone talked about venues, conversation tips, and attitudes.

On Venues:

Pattu: Pick a place you are familiar with. Preferably one where the staff knows you. Just in case the date turns out to be a monster, and you want to scream for HELP! For instance, I try to pick the hotel where I am a member. The staff including the manager knows me by my first name, and they always talk to me (they also have my number). This way, the date knows the venue is my territory.

Peaty: I have had first dates at home, at the movies, at a restaurant, at a bar, in a park, in a museum, and the venue has very little to do with how the date goes. If you have a date around an activity, it’s easier to break the ice. So museums, monuments, hikes, board games, bowling, mini-golf, doggy-date at the park: all the better for losing the initial awkwardness.

Jalebi: Always pick a place that has great food or has been on your list of places to visit. That way if the date isn’t going as well, you have checked one place off your list, and also ensured you had good food. I would highly recommend Glen’s Cafe in Bangalore, where I have had multiple first dates, it has a super chill vibe, and great food. You can also spot many people on dates there, so it isn’t weird.

On Food:

Roo: Don’t order a bowl of salad because you want the guy to think you eat healthy or some such nonsense. At the same time, don’t experiment and order a dish you have no idea about, will be awkward when it lands on your table. I usually order a cappuccino and a sandwich or croissant or maybe a danish to start off with. If the date goes on for hours, go back for a 2nd order.

Jalebi: ALWAYS ORDER EXCELLENT FOOD THAT YOU CAN AFFORD. Once, I had a date that was incredibly boring; the only good thing about the date was the food and dessert. So always order well, and don’t be shy. I have fumbled with chopsticks while eating sushi, but that Sushi was an excellent Sushi.

Pattu: I am always ALWAYS hungry so I don’t shy from ordering large portions / more portions than the date does. I only avoid burgers and sandwiches as I make a mess of them. Protip for guys: Let her order for herself. Don’t decide for her. Thank you.

Of course, some of the tweets veered into the absurd:

And some went straight to the point:

On Conversation:

Jalebi: Show interest in what the other person says. I am a nervous motor-mouth on dates. I can talk a lot, but I have learnt to reign myself in. Everyone has a batch of “stories” they tell people, pick a few, and not all. Else, if there is a second date you may run out of fodder.

If you think you the date went well, and wouldn’t mind a kiss goodbye (or a fuck goodbye) and the boy has been showing signs, THEN GO FOR IT! Guys, learn to read a woman, not all are comfortable puckering up after the first date.

Pattu: Don’t sweat. Don’t feel pressured to talk about stuff you are uncomfortable about (for example ex(es), salaries). Decline / refuse politely. If the conversation goes south, you know this is your first and last date. Unless the date is sexy, in which case you may want to consider a second date. *winks* Protip: Talk but also listen. Don’t cut your date’s sentences off midway.

Roo: I go out with guys only after chatting with them for a few weeks. Conversation has always flowed easy. We seem to take off from where we left off. In most cases, we would have been chatting /texting/phone till the minute we reach the cafe/restaurant and so we just start from there.

The only thing I wanna tell all you cool people out there who are all set to go on a date is remember, it is as much about you as it is about the other person. Don’t give the other person too much importance and don’t give in too much. Be honest, be straight forward and have a fun time!

In this tweeter’s case, it helped to have something to laugh about:

On Clothes:

Peaty: It must be appropriate for the season and the activity. Don’t go to a park in stilettos, you’ll be kicking up divots. Wear sneakers or hiking shoes if you’re going on a hike. Unless it’s your regular style, don’t wear really tight clothes. If your belt is sticking into your belly or your collar is making your neck itch, you will fidget and you will be uncomfortable, and you won’t be able to focus on your date. Protip: If you can, wear deodorant, but don’t wear cologne or perfume that overwhelms the room. People can be allergic to scents.

Roo: I know many of you go through tonnes of outfits before you finalise your date outfit. The only mantra I follow here is to wear something comfortable and suitable for the weather. I either wear a trouser and shirt or a top with a long skirt. Also wear the right kind of bra, you wouldn’t want your boobs to suddenly pop out and take a sip of your coffee. Protip for girls- If the guy you are with constantly comments on what you are wearing, or says something like “Oh, maybe you should try a different style/size,” time to just up and leave. He is being a prick.

Jalebi: Wear anything you like? Anything that also suits the place. I also always make it a point to ask the guys to “look pretty”, so you aren’t the only one making the effort, and also it kind of levels the playing field, na?

Going Offline

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Roo:

I have been connecting with guys from other parts of the country and even world[well that is for another post altogether], ever since I got back into dating. And so it is invariably long distance, and we initially, for a while, stick to chatting on the dating app. Now, if a guy were to message “Hey, can we move to WhatsApp?”, my standard reply would be “Not yet, am not comfortable sharing my number yet”. Maybe it is also to do with the fact I haven’t really dated that many men or gone out with guys on coffee/drink dates [guy friends don’t count].

Well, one might wonder why. There was a time when I would share the number, only to realise the guy snoops around, finds me on Facebook or other online channels and send messages. Now, I am not one of those who adds the world and sundry on these social media channels; I like to keep them specific.

Another fact is I share my number when I feel comfortable with the guy, a sixth sense of sorts kicks in saying he is alright, you can trust him. In fact, with the very 1st guy I connected with on Tinder, we ended up chatting on the app for a good 3 months before moving to WhatsApp, and in this case it was I who initiated the move. And then 2 months later we met for the 1st time! Neither of us were in a hurry nor did we feel keeping it online was weird.

There was the case of this one guy I was chatting with on Tinder for a week or so before we moved to WhatsApp. We decided to meet for coffee when he visited my city on work and since then we have been meeting during every visit of his. Now I know its not going anywhere, and that is something am okay with. Similarly, there was another guy from another city whom I met once, the 2nd time we were to meet in his town, but he was away, and well, since then that ship has sailed off the horizon. No regrets!

However, even though I have said all this about being wary, there has been one guy where things have been different. We connected on Tinder when I was travelling and within a few minutes he sent a message saying he did not like texting and asked if we could talk followed with a message me on xxxxx. For some unexplainable reason, I just went ahead and sent him a message and in 10 mins we were on the phone talking away to glory. Even today, it amazes me that I did do that and we ended up meeting the day after, spending nearly 4 hrs yapping away.

What am trying to say is there is no hard and fast rule on when to take things offline, just go with your gut or intuition… or throw caution to wind and take the plunge. All that matters is you are good with the decision taken. If it goes sticky, there is always the block option. 🙂

Pattu:

Since long-distance works okay for me, I am rarely dying to meet :P. I decide to take things offline / meet when the guy hasn’t made any sexist jokes (yet), has a sense of humour, is not a presumptuous ass, and the conversation flows easily i.e. it is not an effort to try and continue the conversation. And, of course, when:

1. We are in the same city and the conversation is going well.

My first date from OKC didn’t quite meet this criteria but… hmmm . We were in the same city, conversations were okay (not great) but we decided to meet for a late lunch and it was not bad.

Another guy I met: the conversations were a lot of fun, he seemed smart, witty etc, and we went out on three dates. All good.

Third guy I met: We didn’t chat for that long (less than a day), but he asked if we could meet. And I said yes. I felt lucky. 😛 And boy oh boy – the date went very well. And we went for 4 dates in 4 days. One every day. And now, we’re seeing each other ♡

2. When the conversation is going pretty good and an opportunity presents itself for us to be in the same city.

My second date from OKC. Conversations, calls – all were going great. And he happened to visit my city. So we met. The date was extremely disappointing though. The vibes were totally off when we met in person.

Another one was too much too soon. We almost fell in love even before we met (yesssshh… go ahead… make fun of me). Then I was travelling to his country and he came to that city. We spent a couple of days together, it went well. We started seeing each other and broke up soon after (thankfully).

This other guy I met. Conversations were more than good. And he, too, happened to visit my city too. He was here for a week and we met on 4 evenings. But I felt like I was meeting a person who was completely different from the one I was chatting with. It was weird.

Peaty:

As Roo says, there is no hard and fast rule to this, just as there is no hard and fast rule to anything about dating, online or off. It is a function of comfort and safety, and chemistry.

Here’s the thing: chemistry is often tough to figure out through texts. And I don’t mean sexual chemistry, which is often overrated as a decision making tool. I mean the chemistry of companionship, the rather obscure alchemy that rules the distance between friendship and something more.

Am I attracted to them? Do I like the look in their eyes, the comfort they feel in their bodies? Do they seem abrasive while talking to me? Is making conversation a challenge more than a simple joy? Sometimes, these things become obvious the first few times I chat with them, and other times, it takes a meeting to decide.

So I do this: I chat. I share photos, talk about my life, share bits and pieces of my thought process with them, and see what comes back. If it seems easy and like there is a clear connection between us, I don’t wait. I ask them out. I say, “Hey, do you want to hang out this week?” It’s not tough, and it doesn’t push the romance. That can come later. Yes, it is hard to put yourself on the line and make the move, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. The corollary isn’t true, in my opinion: nothing ventured, you do lose.

The reason I say there is loss in not moving is that there tends to be a sweet spot for the next step. If you go past it, then meeting in person takes on this larger-than-life aspect. The what-ifs descend on this fledgling relationship. Past the sweet spot, I tend to say, oh I like this person but what if it doesn’t work out and I feel rejected? And so, I reject the relationship, in the fear of being rejected myself.

The obvious question now is, where is that sweet spot? It’s not defined in time for me, it is rather defined as a feeling. When I really want to meet someone and explore the physicality of the conversation, and when I know I CAN have a conversation with them, I make the move. Sometimes, it just takes one text conversation, and sometimes, it takes a few days. I don’t push myself, and if the other person makes that move before I’m ready, I say “I’d love to, but I’m not ready yet. I’ll definitely let you know when I am, but don’t stop asking. Maybe we’ll check back in in a couple of days?”

I know I said there is no hard and fast rule, but there is one: Try to remain conscious of the other person’s experience and needs, and as always in any relationship, platonic or not, be kind. Empathy isn’t just for bad situations, it’s also important for good ones.

So when do I feel comfortable meeting someone in person? Unfortunately, the answer is ambiguous. The comfort lies in chemistry. Sometimes, I make plans with them months in the future, as I have with someone I met on twitter. Other times, I have met them the same night, and been happy with the outcome. It’s a toss up, readers. You do it when you’re ready.

Jalebi: 

This post sent me back in time by 2 years to when I had just downloaded Tinder. That time getting a match was such a rush, and actually having a conversation would make me blush. So when my first date asked me to meet, I first even refused to share my number, because “what if he is an Axe Murderer?” Those were my exact words, I am pretty sure there is a screenshot out there testifying to that.

After I got over the fear of the first date, I started opening up to meeting more often, so much that I would share my number because the chat interface of Tinder sucks! I would be happy to meet only if I thought our conversations were going well. It would be terrible to be at a date where both parties are bored and stuck on their phones, na? Also, if your texts have turned into sexts, there really will be nothing holding you back, add some good food into the mix, and I will meet in a jiffy.

All chats don’t ever turn into dates, as the other three women here would attest, but those that do, I always make sure I don’t ever regret them. And the first dates that turn into second dates – that depends on how comfortable we both are with each other, how entertaining the conversations was, and if he kept his phone away.

Does Distance Matter?

why-i-swipe-rightJalebi:

Have you ever been in a long-distance relationship? The endless phone calls, the routine conversations, the saving money to meet the other person, the feverish sex, and the sometimes awkwardness of being with each other after so long. I had that, and it didn’t end too well for me.

So, when I found Tinder, I only dated guys in the same city, which makes sense, because it is easier getting away being an axe-murderer if you are just chatting with someone. Jokes aside, after my last long-term relationship ended, I just wanted to meet people, feel desired, and have sex. All that only made sense with guys in the same city, preferably those who could spend the night at my place whenever I wanted. All the dates were preceded with endless chatting and phone conversations, but I like to see my boys often.

After my relationship, I craved being held, cuddled and touched, not just sexually but even just cuddling and sleeping was alright, so I sought men who were willing come over at my behest, and I loved it.

There is lot of literature about millennials seeking instant gratification, but using a platform like Tinder which seemed to be built for it, why not?

Pattu:

Having lived alone for over three years, and having gotten out of an almost two-year long relationship, I wasn’t awfully keen on instant gratification i.e. meeting men or going on dates with men from the same city. I had absolutely no idea of what to expect when I started using the dating app (OkCupid was the one I used for over a year + I have used dating apps for close to 16 months now). I rarely had any matches / found interesting men in the same city that I live in. Nevertheless, my first date was someone who lived in the same city as me.

Quick view:
A = ~25.
The total number of men I’ve chatted with (this includes hi-hello kind of conversation as well deep meaningful conversations as well sexual innuendo wala conversations)

B = ~5-6 (Around 25% of A)
The number of men in the same city as me (including when I travelled to other cities).

C = ~19-20 (Around 75% of A)
The number of men who lived in a different city.

D = 7. (More than 25% of A)
The number of men I met In Real Life.

E = 3. (Less than 50% of D)
The number of men I met, who were in the same city as me when we were chatting.

F = 4. (More than 50% of D)
The number of men I met, who lived in other cities, and we met in my city or theirs.

Ha – so clearly, my dating stats show that I don’t mind the long distance at all. Not one bit. Since I wasn’t sure what kind of a relationship I was looking for, on the dating apps, I didn’t mind chatting with men from another city.

Communication is very important to me, including in friendships. So, I really don’t mind the distance if the talks / chats are meaningful, and fun. All the same, chats that hinge only on sexual innuendos get boring pretty soon; the chats lose steam and I lose interest, especially since there seems to be no chance of meeting in real life.

Also, I like having my physical space for myself, this includes the city, the cafes as well as my own bedroom or kitchen. I don’t like to walk around knowing I might run into someone I dated or that I may have to fit them into my boring day-to-day schedule.

For me – having someone to chat with, share your day with, share your feelings with – is good enough. I don’t feel the need for it to immediately translate to a meeting IRL or feel the need for physical intimacy because we have a connection otherwise. I am okay with waiting it out until there is an opportunity for us to meet.

In short, long distance to start with is great. If things go well, I make plans to meet up. All the same, instant gratification is great too. My instant gratification has come from men I met on other platforms such as twitter or parties or through mutual friends in my city, etc. *wink wink*

Roo:

Well, if you have been following this blog and reading the posts, you will know by now that I got into the whole dating game [yes, I call it a game cos it is all about playing games, trying to figure people out, judging them, deciding how open/not you wish to be and the whole other set of rules that are hidden but always lurking about] only recently.

The one app I have been loyal to is Tinder, don’t ask me why. Oh, well, if you insist it has been an app that has given me some good connects, while the other apps have only given a bad taste, leaving me disgusted and complete turned off. So, here I am using Tinder on & off, and chat with guys whenever I see a connect. I am not sure if it is my age bracket, but I seem to find guys who are in other parts of the country only. Looks like all the 35+ guys in Chennai are either hiding or have migrated elsewhere. These guys I chatted with/met were from Bombay or Bangalore, one guy was from Chandigarh and then there is this other guy I have known for little over a year who is from Pune. We haven’t met, but we do chitchat now and then. Anyways, so it has all been long distance and I guess over time I have made peace with that.

The guy from Bombay I met during his trip to Chennai. The one from Bangalore I hoped to meet when I was in Bangalore, but alas he was away on a trip. And well, that ship has sailed, disappeared from my vision. Then there was the other one from Bangalore who I met whilst in Bangalore who made a trip here to my town where we spent some time together.

Even though I don’t get to meet or have coffee or spend time with the guy, it is alright. I am quite cool with the whole long distance relationship. Yes, I will be lying if I said I miss the physical proximity, being able to meet, catch up for coffee or just sit out in the terrace yapping away… But am not gonna complain… 🙂 

With all the new age technology, it has become easier being in touch. Heck, last month we spoke so much our phone bills sky rocketed. We have since then switched to alternative modes of communication, but the frequency hasn’t reduced or faded… Hallelujah… We don’t seem to run out of things to talk about- sometimes it is mundane stuff, other times it is serious topics.

With long distance, initially you do need to think about if the person is free, send a message check before calling and you never really know what they are going through. There is so much that happens based on guesses. But with time, you get to know the person and the equation changes. Now, I don’t think before calling, I don’t hesitate before making a comment and am quite kicked that I know him quite well and can even predict his actions/emotions to the dot. LOL… Love the morning calls which are brief but upbeat where either of us says something weird/quirky and just laugh away as we hang up. 😉

The one thing I have realized is that we all create our own rules when it comes to relationships and there is no set format to be followed. If it works for you, go for it is all I say. Yes, do take lessons from your friends, learn from their mistakes but go ahead make your own, you never know what might click… Ooh, the phone rings, off I go for some TLC 😡

Peaty: 

My experience with dating is… limited, as I have explained earlier. Within this limited experience, I have had exactly one long distance relationship, and one relationship that briefly turned long distance. Both were DISASTROUS, not just to the love we had worked to build, but also to my general mental health. As someone who struggles with anxiety, having access to your person’s facial expressions, bodily warmth or to the simple and reassuring holding of hands is often the thing that keeps you from falling over the metaphorical cliff. Being denied that access due to distance is cruel, and I have found that out through rather rough patches.

An integral part of being honest and open while dating is being honest with yourself. So, before I started using OK Cupid or Tinder, I asked myself what I wanted and needed. And I needed that my dates be in the city I was in, irrespective of whether I was seeking a serious relationship or not. While it is easier to be on the apps in Bangalore, for example, than in Chennai, just by virtue of choice alone, the fact that I didn’t like the idea of distance was reason enough to limit my distance options to within 50kms of where I lived.

The other consideration that prompted this (apart from my own bad experiences) is that I am rarely free to travel to another city. I work 6 days a week, and I cannot afford to take Saturdays off, unlike most other people with urban jobs. I am the sole custodian of the sweetest dog in the world, which further limits my movements. So, I can only look for love or sex or companionship or a dinner date within the restrictions that I have already placed on my life.

But that is me. Most people reading this do not have these problems. And to them, I say, do what seems right to you. In my opinion, we spend far too much time worrying about what will happen rather than working for what we want to happen. If you want distance between yourself and a date, if you like the idea of a long-distance romance, if you aren’t limited to a city by your lifestyle, and if you want to visit new cities, I strongly recommend you change those distance parameters. Sign up for a membership to tinder plus and change the city you are swiping in. Change the range on your OkC matches and see if you like a profile in Croatia. Expand your horizons, and maybe you’ll be surprised by what you find out about yourself.

How My Friends Perceive My Use of Dating Apps

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Jalebi:

I first got on to Tinder in Jan 2014. The app was just becoming popular in India then, and my flatmate encouraged me to download it. From then on I was the person who encouraged my single friends to be on it. Then there was a mini band of us after a couple of months who were on it, but for some reason people never liked to speak of it. I have seen 3 stages of tinder acceptance –

Shock & Denial
Whenever I mentioned I had a Tinder date, my friends would pause, and try and be polite and ask, “You actually go out on dates with people u meet on that?”. There would be plans made about SOS calls, how to stalk a guy well enough, at what stage do you actually give your number, etc.

Trial & Error
It is when you have had a successful date, and probably get into a relationship that more people want to try it out, I have had friends install it, swipe a couple of times and come to terms with how easy it is to meet new people, or junk it as “involving way too much effort”. This also includes married people who just want to swipe to feel included and part of a larger cultural movement

Acceptance
After knowing people who use Tinder exclusively to meet new people, and those who use it to make friends in a new city (Me), and at least one marriage story, it comes to gain acceptance. Even with my parents. The guy I am currently in a relationship with, we met on Tinder, my parents know this, and are totally cool with it. This probably also has to do with him being a really nice guy.

So, yes – datings apps are awesome – please use them more. As my very wise Uncle told me – as you grow older, your social circles become smaller, and the number of new and single people you meet drastically reduce.

Roo:

Well, after having spent nearly a decade being busy with life, I was working on an interesting project, and it was through the same that I came upon Tinder, the dating app. While I did do some research on this, most of what I read told me it was an app used by “singles” / “desperate souls” to connect with others for sex. That had me pausing in my tracks. But then the client wanted me to dig deeper [pun unintended] and write a piece on this app and how people were finding the same with reference to the Indian context.

So there I went, to download the app and see for myself what it was all about. When I first mentioned of this to a dear friend, she gaped. “You, are you really trying out a dating app di!” she said with a big-ass smile on her face. She then laughed and said it was about time I did something to bring some excitement to life.

I started sharing this information with a few other friends, especially friends groups on WhatsApp. In one such group, there is also a single guy around my age who chided me saying “I have a rocking social life and so it is surprising that I had to resort to a dating app to find interesting men”. Well, what can I say! Another friend wanted to know juicy stories about the guys I connect with. So whenever we meet, I end up sharing stories of guys I connect with, guys I have chatted with and the odd one that I have met. They are always full of questions, how can I just go meet a strange guy, what do I do if he turns out to be a creep, who foots the bill and so on. It is quite fun.

And then there is this other dear friend who has been married for over 20yrs, who says I am doing everything she has secretly desired to do, am living it up, rocking it and she is happy for me. But she goes slightly weird whenever I share my Tinder tales. She doesn’t have anything to add when I share a concern and over time I have stopped sharing with her. Somewhere I get the feeling she is jealous [maybe am wrong, but can’t help but wonder].

Then there are the guys I chat with. Some of them are so curious to know about the other guys I have/am chatted/chatting with, what are they like, what am I talking to them about. While it is alright to swap stories some get very touchy and go off saying how they thought we were exclusive and how I haven’t earned their trust. Ummm this leaves me puzzled, because there would have been no talk of being exclusive.

Over time, I have stopped sharing my Tinder tales with all. There are just 1-2 who get to hear of it and whose opinion also matters to me. I know they care and genuinely looking out for me! Am currently talking to a guy, who is like no other I have met…. looking forward to the road ahead… 🙂

Peaty:

I first got on dating apps when a friend of mine was recovering from a breakup. She was ready to start seeing people again, albeit casually, and I decided she needed an OK Cupid profile, as she was leery of Tinder. I signed up for her, started answering questions for her, and vetted her messages to identify men she could reach out to.

Soon, I was an unofficial ambassador for dating apps. My single friends eventually got tired of me trying to sell them on the various options, but they all tried Tinder at my urging. Some of them hated it, and some loved it.

Three months later, I was newly single. After all my proselytization, it was pointed out to me that it would be hypocritical for me to not get on the apps now.

Cupid’s Arrow Hurts
Less than a month after I joined OK Cupid, I met someone and fell very quickly in love. This reinforced my love for dating apps, and again, I took up my baton as app ambassador. Even after that relationship ended, my love for dating apps did not cease.

This year, between January and November, I have matched, met and dated more than 15 people. Even the most adventurous of my friends think I have gone overboard. There are many insights one can draw from my dating practices, and these have been shared with me regularly, almost gleefully. One good friend dubbed me Tinderella, waiting by her phone for the latest Tinder message.

Judgement Calls
Some of my friends were very concerned about my “excessive” dating initially. They even staged an almost intervention. Other friends, less concerned with my mental health, and more with my physical health, reminded me to use protection, and be safe. People I now don’t consider friends called me a slut, and other unkind things.

It’s all true. Yes, a rough breakup and low self-esteem and a fear of being alone and a fear of judgement about my singleness had all contributed to my dating disease. I am aware of all of this. I am also aware that I have moved past these rather painful issues, and am now on dating apps because I want to be. I am happy in my solitude, but I am also looking for love. Not everyone gets that, but the people who matter to me do. No one is concerned now: they see that I’m happy and safe, so they now live vicariously through me.

This Tinderella isn’t waiting for life to happen to her; she’s taking chances and embracing risks so she can get what she wants and deserves.

Pattu:

I started using a dating app, OkCupid (OkC), in the summer of 2015. A friend in India (unhappily married) said I must totally check it out. Now, I am a curious cat so I returned to my Himalayan town, and started *checking it out*. My first date was with a Norwegian Buddhist. We met, had lunch, coffee, said bye-bye, and that we must meet again. I was HAPPY with the idea of having met a new interesting person. (We never managed to meet again) So I started talking about it to my close friends here.

Amused: Some friend just reacted with a *laughing with tears emoji*. I read them as *you will never change*.

Bewilderment: One of the first persons to know I am on a dating app was my then ex-boyfriend (I told him). He was very baffled and could not wrap his head around it. I did encourage him to try, too.

Converted:  I have successfully converted several apprehensive ones to at least try it out. One did with no success, another with little. One was horrified. One was exhilarated (and thankful) to lose her virginity to a tinder date.

Curiosity: These came from my older (50yo) friends. They were very curious about how this works – much like on this blog, where we talk of why we are using dating apps, why do we swipe right, what do we do after that.

Encouragement (with cautiousness): Most of my single heterosexual friends as well as my gay friends, were very encouraging but asked me to tread with caution. One sat me down before a date as I was getting too anxious and jittery.

Judgmental (little to a lot): These reactions ranged from: Why are you doing this? – Makes you sound so desperate for men. – Don’t be like this ya – You are like a ‘khulla sand’ (single ox /bull – I think this is a crass Hindi slang for someone who is single and will do anyone) – Just settle down

RESPECT: Hehehe. These mostly came from the divorced or unmarried in late 30s wale dost, who wanted a companion but didn’t find a suitable one. Their reactions: Wow, you are so brave – I wish I were like you – I am not so confident.

Love, and My Parents

love-my-parents

My parents were never the traditional parents that my classmates had. In many ways, they rocked the small town we grew up in because of their unconventional choices. To start with, my mother was a working woman – and an unconventional one at that. She started and ran organizations that helped people. My father resembled other fathers in his ability to completely ignore household management and most parenting; he also spent a large portion of my childhood travelling.

We always knew that our parents were special: extremely smart, driven and quick witted, with a keen sense of humour unlike most other adults we knew in our little town. They never told us about their troubles or their successes, and we grew up in a comfortable house with not many luxuries, but all the necessities. We were raised to be thrifty, to make do, to savour the intellectual over the worldly.

Even when we were brats, or when we were not listening to our parents, my sister and I always knew they loved us. We also knew they held the control in our lives. The few times we did talk about getting married, the assumption was that our parents would arrange our marriage for us. I was always worried about what they would think of the boys I did have crushes on, so I never spoke to them about it.

With many privileges also came some flaws: I was seriously crippled with social anxiety and depression because I was always worried I would never match up to what I thought was my family’s expectation of me.

Dating
I didn’t date when I was in high school or college. I was in a very matter-of-fact relationship when I was in grad school, but my relative youth (I was 22) and his relative misogyny combined with his wandering penis put an end to that quickly. The relationship hadn’t involved dating, or flirting, or even an attempt at definition. I made the mistake many young and scared girls make when they are doing something they worry their parents will disapprove of: I pretended it would all work out without discussion.

I never spoke to my parents about this first love; I did not even talk about it with myself. I stayed celibate for 4 more years, allowing the wounds of my inexperience to fester. Now, I look back and recognize that many people attempted flirting with me in those years but I did not understand how to flirt, or even what that was. I got my thrills from books and movies, and maintained strong yet platonic relationships with all my friends.

During this time, my mother would often bring up the idea of marriage, and would even spend hours arguing with me as to why it was time to get married. While outwardly I rejected her arguments, inside, I knew I was failing her expectations. The anxiety grew. Through my career moves, and my different locations, the one thing that stayed with me was my fear that I was a disappointment to my parents. It was no longer about marriage; it was about life itself.

The first
I started seeing men again when I was 26, but only because the guy in question was incredibly upfront about his interest in me. Even then, we didn’t discuss it; there was no relationship, no friendship, and no expectations of each other. We would run into each other at a bar (and it was always this one bar), and fall into bed with each other. It was easy, it was uncalculated, and it was that supposedly ideal “no-strings” relationship. We did like each other, we respected each other, but that was about it. This ran its course, as these things do.

The next one
Then, I met a man (in a bar again) who actually asked me out to dinner, and I had my first real date. It followed the romance movie template: he set up a time and a place, picked me up, dropped me off, we ate and drank wine and talked for hours, and I wore makeup. He was 37, I was 27. A week after our first date, after our first night together, he told me he wasn’t relationship material. That he had been there and done that, and was not looking for anything serious. That he broke up with women as soon as it seemed like they had fallen in love with him. I nodded and agreed, pretending to myself that this was what I wanted. I went along with his idea of adulthood for as long as I could tell myself this wasn’t tearing me apart. But it was tearing me apart. Four months in, the lying stopped. I accepted what I had always hidden from myself for so many years: I wanted love. I wanted it more than I wanted to be the cool girl; more than I wanted to be accepted.

Befriending my parents
It was easy to navigate the choppy waters of anxiety once I had accepted that my needs were more important that pleasing someone else. I went into therapy, I started medication, I started accepting myself and my needs, and not allowing my fear of rejection to overcome my own natural tendencies.

I learnt to recognize the difference between my expectations of myself and my perception of what my parents expected of me. I learnt to confront my parents when they were being unreasonable, or when they tried to tell me what to do or how to be. I learnt to tell them that I was ok with who I was.

In this process, we, my parents and I, became friends.

I know. Most people start becoming friends with their parents in their late 20s and early 30s, when they start understanding them better as human beings and not as these larger-than-life “perfect” people. This happened to me too, but more importantly, our friendship grew when I started helping them understand me better. We fought, but we also talked. They became aware of how my feminism shaped my behaviour and my life. They recognized why I was uncomfortable with some of their practices. They evolved with me.

Oops … the next time
The next time I met someone (AGAIN IN A BAR; I swear I’m not a big drinker), and started dating, and flirting, and doing the things I wanted to do with my love life, as opposed to what was expected of me, it was easier to handle. It took time and many different men, but I learnt how to set boundaries, how to recognize my needs, and how to refuse to settle.

I also started telling my mom about these men. I was 29 the first time, and very nervous about telling my mother anything about my life that she might disapprove of, but I hoped that the relationship we had built would overcome the awkwardness.

She was, as ever, talking about finding potential grooms for me; I jumped in and said, “Oh, I hope you haven’t paid up for this matchmaking service.”

She paused, and frowned. “No, but the cheque is ready.”

“Don’t pay ma, I met someone and I want to see if it goes somewhere.”

I never expected that my mother would be actually relieved that her daughter was dating someone. I told her about him: that he was 4 years younger than me, that he was a chartered accountant, that we had met in Bangalore, and that we had been seeing each other for 6 months. Eventually, I moved on from that relationship. Breaking up hurt, but telling my father and mother that I had broken up was comforting; they were kind and concerned, but also eager to move on back to their matrimonial websites.

The next time, I was very seriously in love. I even introduced him to my parents. They were very nice to him, and told me they liked him, even though I knew they disapproved. When that relationship also ended badly, my mother told me, “This too shall pass. He didn’t deserve you, and you deserve better than him.”

My father took me out for a beer.

We talk now, my parents and me. I allow them to set me up with men they find through their networks, and I tell them when I think it just won’t work out. They ask me if I want to get back with “that young north Indian boy” for he seemed to be the one I liked the most. They tell my extended family to back off when they nag me about my single state and advanced age, and they accept that I need to live in my own home so that I can be independent.

Only 11 years ago, I was terrified I would have to marry some dude they picked out of a matrimonial site. Today, I tell them I can’t meet them for dinner because I have a date, and they grumble about my active social life. This is nice.

You Matched with someone. Now What?

you-matched-now-what

Jalebi:

When I was new to Tinder, getting a match was a huge deal. Seeing who pinged first, was an even greater deal. I always expected the guy to ping first initially, and they would too, and that let me get into my comfort zone. We would have nice happy conversations with me just responding to them and judging them based on their conversational skills. But after a few months, men started taking the initiative a little lesser. I would ping them myself, after a lot of motivational speeches. I tried to steer clear of the usual “hey! where do you work”, and tried asking pointed questions from their profiles.

If the conversation went well and moved easily from Tinder to WA, I would wait for the guy to ask me out, often dropping heavy hints, and also asking when they planned to ask me out. Before I go into greater detail, I should confess that if the conversation on Tinder bored me, then I would ghost or Unmatch. I didn’t want a roster of guys to stroke my ego, just wanted those around with whom I could discuss pop culture, food and sex with. I tend to do this, because I HATE awkward silences. It makes me overcompensate by talking even more, and who wants a date who talks a mile a minute?

So, I save dates for those who crack terrible jokes, seem as socially awkward as me, and have the same choice in TV shows and movies, because first conversations have to be based on something!

Pattu:

Hmmm … Now I have mostly used OkCupid. As I was saying here, on OkC, my inbox gets inundated with messages. Then I go through the profiles, and depending on what the man said, I respond. When I come across a profile I am interested in, I message first. What this means is that either can start the conversation without having to wait for a match; it also means either can happily ignore all the messages and not bother to reply. The one time I did use Tinder, I messaged the man first after a *match*.

If the man’s first sentences include words like ‘dear’ ‘darling’ ‘sexy’ ‘hot’, then that spells the end of the conversation as do poor English language skills (since that is the language I use for online conversations). Also, I don’t entertain conversations where the man only always asks ‘Should we meet now or should we meet then?’ If the conversation gathers some steam, where it moves beyond A/S/L and Occupation I immediately move to WhatsApp as it is just much easier to chat.

I rarely meet men immediately. I see how the conversation goes, and sometimes it can even be weeks before we plan to meet. If a conversation doesn’t die its natural death, there is some hope that we may meet. I hate when men disappear from a chat after having feigned interest; I would rather they honestly tell me that this is not working for them, or whatever BS they want. When I get bored of ‘hellogoodmorninghowareyou’ wala conversations, then I honestly say that this is not working for me, and I graciously exit. Some conversations lead to steaming hot sexting, which also eventually lose steam. Hehehehe. The ones that don’t lose steam, I consider as potential dates or one-in-a-twenty chance that I will chumma decide to meet the man on a whim.

Roo:

The excitement we feel when someone gives us a new book or gadget is something that needs to be experienced. Similarly, when someone also likes your profile and you find a match, it is quite a moment. During my early days on Tinder, it used to give me a kick, almost a confidence boost when the guy who’s profile I had swiped right on does the same to me and Tinder announces it to be a match. But over time I have come to see that there are guys who probably swipe right on every profile and then just disappear. Irritating morons … 😀

I still remember the first guy who I matched with. He is based in Chennai and today we are good friends. Yes, indeed. We began chatting on Tinder and after a few months moved to WhatsApp and met eventually. There was so much in common between us that we hit it off right away. Even though neither of us was on Tinder looking for friends, it just happened and we have no regrets. Today, we swap stories of other matches that happen on the app.

But ok, what typically happens once you match with someone is what am going to talk about. I don’t wait for the guy to make the first move; I invariably send them a Hi hello message and wait for a response. Some respond immediately, some after few minutes, hours and some never. The last category leaves me wondering what they are doing on the app and the 1st category makes me wary and wonder if they are just desperate.

I spend some time getting to know the person, figuring them out before sharing my number. There are many that don’t go beyond Tinder because they would be married/looking for one nighters/fun/company for clubbing, pubbing only/separated but working on their marriage but want some fun while at it.

With the ones who seem genuine, I chat freely, sharing information about myself, but I do hold back on certain information. I never reveal my real status with ref to where I live [area, if I live alone/friends/family, etc.] I would do that after meeting them. Similarly, the first meet is always for coffee, never for a drink or pubbing/clubbing. There are a few who disappear the minute I say coffee meet only but there are others who are happy to meet for coffee and then it either goes forward or ends there.

One guy I remember was visiting Chennai from Bombay. He said he was separated but not divorced, his wife and child were in Delhi. He wanted to make it work but she wasn’t ready. We met for coffee and then he asked me if I would come back to his hotel room for some fun. To these guys all I say is “Sorry, am not into that, thanks for the coffee followed by a Adios.” Similarly, when I meet the guys, I always insist on going dutch [nothing feminist, just makes it easier for me, cos I don’t want random strangers buying me coffee/food]

If we have been chatting for a while and it sounds interesting/promising, we move to Whatsapp/calls and take it forward. Well, I have had quite a few interesting matches- few that continue to keep in touch and others who just faded away. Sigh.

Peaty:

Now, I wait.

It’s possibly a lot of social conditioning mixed with an unhealthy amount of social anxiety, but I rarely message first. However, I don’t wait to be asked out.

I, more often than not, do the asking.

It’s a funny dichotomy, but that’s how it works. When someone messages me, it reinforces their right swipe, and assuages my anxiety to some extent. It also opens up conversation, which I tend to be terrible at.

I know I am always horrified at having to tell a complete stranger about what I’m looking for on Tinder, and ALMOST EVERYONE ASKS THAT QUESTION. So instead, I like to drive the conversation towards work, or my dog, or what we like to do for fun. It allows both people to lose some of the very normal stiffness, since we’re both talking about things that are natural, and everyday for us.

Some of the best Tinder conversations I’ve had have been completely free-ranging and relaxed. I love knowing that the person I’m talking to is genuinely interested in whatever we’re talking about. I HATE having to continuously ask questions. This is something many people do: they tend to think of this as a game when they have to constantly keep hitting the conversational ball, but don’t realize that they are actually expected to hit the ball back to the other person.

They don’t recognize that the best way to engage a person is to ask questions back.

If someone gives me an ear, and is interested in what I have to say, I will ask them out for a drink. I will flirt, I will try to connect with them, I might even get comfortable enough to sext. If someone seems bored or uncommunicative or doesn’t seem to be interested in my life, I will ruthlessly Unmatch. I don’t have time for people like that.