Tinder And She: Swipe Right On Self Discovery
Tinder India and She the People.TV provided women a platform to discuss love, agency, sex and sexuality in the time of tech, all topics which traditional outfits discourage them from discussing. It was an evening full of amusing anecdotes, raucous laughter and stories of swiping right and left, supported by poetry and music.
One such discussion was on how dating apps have helped new age Indian women discover themselves, featuring the founder of Delhi poets collectiven Saumya Kulshreshtha, author Priya Alika Elias, radio jockey Rohini Ramnathan and blogger Amena Azeez, and moderated by journalist and writer Naomi Datta. The conversation covered exploring choices, consent, dating apps and social discovery as an adult.
On the perils of making an effort to get love
For Rohini Ramnathan, the idea of going on a dating app after coming out of a marriage meant doing it all over again. She said, “I thought I had finished that stage of applying red lipstick and wearing heels. So yes, it was really hard getting on a dating app. And then you have to answer so many questions, which is damn hard. You’ve to talk about yourself and present a filtered or cosmetic version of who you are. And then you realise that men are doing the same thing. This first step is hard to take because it is like admitting that you want Love.”
You’ve to talk about yourself and present a filtered or cosmetic version of who you are – Rohini
Log Kya Kahenge is a very real fear for most women
Saumya Kulshreshtha on the other hand has never been on a dating app. But what’s stopping her? To this she replied, “Log kya kahenge is very real for me. I still belong to that category of people who when asked “Are you dating?” say “no” out of an instinct. I am still navigating words like Tinder and agency. For instance, I teach gen Z kids back in Delhi. Millennials look at gen Zs as people who are far more equitable, far more egalitarian and far more vocal in terms of standing up for what they believe is right, and even more gender sensitive. It fails when it comes to love, let me just tell you that. Because the gendered psyche in little girls is too deep set. That type of conditioning is still deep-rooted even in me, so even if I am on Tinder I won’t admit it to you.”
“It takes us ages to go on one date.”
Priya Alika Elias, who has been on Tinder both in the U.S. and in India, highlighted the difference in her experience in both countries. She said, “I got on Tinder when I was in the U.S. and it was very much a normal part of life. People weren’t ashamed to say that “Oh we met on Tinder,” instead of making up elaborate stories about it. But it is different in India because online dating is still relatively new, so a fatigue hasn’t set in.
Amena Azeez has been on and off Tinder and her personal tryst with online dating has been centred around finding “the one”. And how did that unfold for her? She said, “I am going to be honest, I got on online dating to find The One. I was looking for a proper spouse or a partner. So when people would ask me what are you here for, I would genuinely tell them that I was looking for something serious, and then they would completely ghost me.” But how were the men she met here? Azeez said they were “interesting”, but it was as if they didn’t want to meet Amena the person, but Amena the profile.
Dating and relationship are two different things – Rohini
Much has been said about Indian men’s dating and courtship skills, and it still seems that we haven’t talked about it enough. Ramnathan said, “Indian men and women both don’t know what dating means. If I am on this app it is my volition, my consent and I have swiped you, that’s why we’ve matched. I once matched with a man who said to me that he didn’t want to be in a relationship. So I told him that dating and relationship are two different things.”
We just don’t have that context of dating, so people often think you have to be in a Bollywood style relationship which leads to marriage – Priya Elias
Elias, who writes articles on dating, said, “It is amazing the amount of basic advice I have to keep repeating,” further adding, “We just don’t have that context of dating, so people often think you have to be in a Bollywood style relationship which leads to marriage. They don’t know that dating means going on a few dates with somebody and it doesn’t have to lead anywhere, but you do have to put your best foot forward and treat the other person with respect.”