Scroll Top

Why I’ve Stopped Going on Tinder Dates

A roadside board reads, "Have your awkward Tinder dates here.

I ressurected my account to be more pointed about who should swipe me left or right. But the problem wasn’t my bio, strategy or the app.

It’s one thing to have loved and lost. It’s another thing to have gone on a spree of Tinder dates and gained nothing at all. Not even a perspective on life.

I had joined the app about 10 months ago and written about never even making it to a date 2 months later. I’ve had better luck (or strategy) since then, going on a bevy of dates across three seasonal changes. Now how did that happen? For one, I changed my strategy altogether. I knew I didn’t want to waste a single bit of my data plan on unmoving conversations about my day or what I ate for lunch. I saw no consequence to a conversation about my weekend plans unless that included us doing something unusual (warehouse jams, community gardening and such?) or ironic (getting zonked and going boating in Ulsoor lake. That’s still on my bucket list, by the way). Yeah, a girl can only dream.

Yashraj films to Arthouse cinema: From Tindering in Europe to India

About the strategy, it was clear. My bio itself was edited to read that I wasn’t into playing games and more into the good ol’ straightforward meet and greet. Texts, emojis or forwards don’t unravel shit about a person or even help us get a sense of their personality. I know it’s a guilty indulgence of thedigivasi but s/texts couldn’t be a more perfect example of building castles in the air. More than that, I started proposing to meet up as soon as I felt that we could string together a decent conversation. Meanwhile, some of my expectations, or even priorities, changed after Tindering across Europe. Using Tinder as a tourist or someone passing by is widely different from the regular experience of going out with someone in your own town. I might still recommend it as a tourist even though it’s far from being perfect with an equal chance at a fling or a flake. Three countries. Two awesome dates. I had nothing to complain about.

Of course, it is easier to be European in Europe or for that matter, with Europeans. I won’t go into the obvious specifics that one would tend to compare but one thing remarkably stood different. The guys I met in Europe were interested in having a good time, whether that meant going for a party or meeting for drinks. More importantly, the good times were primarily or even solely aimed at the present, whether it was a conversation about the place we were at or dancing to the billboard hits at the local bar. It didn’t pave the way for any spillover expectations (of course, I wasn’t around long enough to have them) but more than that, it was pure instantaneous, en el momentofun. And that was quite enough as far as my personal expectations vs reality vis.a.vis the app goes.

On most of my Tinder dates in India, however, I felt a cultural pressure to get to know the person sitting as awkwardly across the table and figure out whether our wavelengths matched. Almost as if it was a screening test for the next round, which is God knows what. Case in point, I would always have to deal with the insatiable curiosity to establish whether I was from India or the North East. Invariably, the question would be followed by a note of apology: “I hope you don’t mind me asking”. No, I don’t mind you asking but tell me this: If you didn’t know for sure until we met, were you afraid of making a racist slur or were you just making sure you had the appropriate stereotype in mind? This one guy, whose bio said he was not looking for hook ups, insisted I share more pictures with him on Whatsapp. Asked why, he told me because he was into chinks (sic), swiftly after which he asked if it’s okay for him to say that. I texted back saying no and politely (yet curtly) asked him to fuck off. He called me every single day after that for a week along with the same message, “Wanna meet for a drink?”, which I’m sure was a saved template for chinksand non-chinks alike in his phonebook.

Tinder is the Netflix of dating

I dilly dallied on the app a lot before permanently disabling my account. That was before I got bored (and lonely, in every way) and ressurected my account to be more pointed about who should swipe me left or right. But the problem wasn’t my bio, strategy or the app. Sneha Rajaram rightly said that we are the harbingers of the dating apocalypse, as opposed to all this criticism it has come under of late. Tinder is merely our means, tools and innovation to enable this apocalypse.

Unfortunately, women in India are damned whether or not they use the app. For one, it’s not like you have a lot of choices. Yes, there are a dime a dozen apps that I could try but it’s only going to be the same people on it. Sure, dating services like FLOW seem to be booming in metro cities today. But to be only introduced to a highly filtered community of class, income level, exposure, work, education, caste and English accent feels like an oversimplification of our choices and exploration. Secondly, we’re not in an age where we want to smell roses, let alone make any time for it. Between our busy work and social lives, the time and opportunities to meet people organically is fast fading away. Not even on a vacation, especially when it is meticulously planned as per your precious days of leave. Ten months into the app, the only reason I had to stick around was due to the lack of a more convenient option, like Netflix is to going out on a weekend night.

Tinder isn’t new to Indian culture

I have never been on a date from a matrimonial site but some of the Tinder dates I went on were as close as I ever want to get to that experience. The rigmarole of talking about what you do, where you live, what kind of life you lived or what your parents do felt repeatetive, sometimes even practiced. Arranged marriages in India are the pioneers of swiping photos in different bins, only with a stronger intent to settle down. Not that I’m shallow or not open to finding ‘true’ companionship but isn’t having fun in the moment the best place to start from? No one’s on the app to make friends. Even the prelude to any friendship or hook up, for that matter, still is some solid good fun.

A lot of men told me how the app has been a fail as far as even chatting with women, let alone bringing any mojo to their sex lives. Some women told me how ‘twas an exercise in vanity for them to reject men like they could never before and just to see how many matches they’d get in a day, not to mention some harmless dominatrix styled flirting. For most of us, Tinder is a filler in between our busy scheds. I had imagined this filler to be an experimental meet up or an adventure filled proposal. Not a bloody Whatsapp notification.

This article was written by Makepeace Sitlhou and was originally published on Medium.

Image: Chris Goldberg (CC BY-NC 2.0)