Love in the time of hook-up culture

Manjari Singh

My friends didn’t have nice things to say when I told them I was going to try Tinder. Mine is a small city with a small circle where everybody knows everyone, if not personally, then on Facebook. They told me that all good men are either married or have moved out of the city. They also told me there are fair chances of bumping into a stalker. I was shocked when a friend said that Tinder reeks of desperation and good girls should only go to matrimonial sites.

I’d been reading a lot of Tinder experiences online and I remember reading about dates turning into mind-boggling sex, painful one-sided love stories and actual fairy tales, exactly the kind I covet. Of course, there were awry dates, weird conversation and everything wrong, yet I decided to give it a chance and one fine morning I downloaded the app and got started.

Within 30 minutes I had 10 matches and by then I also knew why my friends had cautioned me about Tindering in Lucknow. Most men assumed that it was sex or lack of it that got me to the app, especially since I’m a journalist. I saw a lot of married men and some of them had pictures with wives and kids.

A couple of them even asked me if I was up for a short fling (read extramarital affair) because, “Journalists are so open-minded”! One man, who turned out to be a friend’s friend’s husband, had the audacity to ask me why I was on Tinder if not for sex. I was about to give up, when Z texted, and within a few minutes I knew he was different from the rest and the best looking guy I had matched with, and that was another reason why I gave him my phone number. A quick search on Facebook assured me that everything was alright and we soon moved to WhatsApp. I knew the app had already given me the best and I uninstalled it from my phone.

We never had long chats but the short conversations we had were enough to indicate that he was everything that I was not and yet I felt tremendously attracted to him. We would mostly talk about love, relationships and sex and while he sounded quite advanced in those areas, I was still naïve. I told him clearly that I was not looking for casual sex and he was okay with that.

We talked almost every day. Although he’d make plans, he never made any special efforts to make them work. I didn’t know what or whether to think of him at all. What I found really strange was that he would never shy away from asking journalistic favours but had a problem coming to see me.

Related reading: How a lying woman broke the heart of a small-town boy on Tinder

It was frustrating, but then the heart wants what it wants. He’d ask me to promote his company and I’d do whatever I could, thinking if I helped him, he would also fall for me. And one fine day we met. It was completely unplanned, yet soul filling. He just texted me before leaving his office and within 30 minutes I found him waiting for me outside my house.

He was every inch a gentleman and I loved every minute. He was definitely more fun in person and I never wanted that evening to end. We spoke of food, Bollywood, work and everything under the sun. He asked a lot of questions about my work and seemed interested in me, or so I thought. I’ve never been with anyone and I was overwhelmed with all the attention. Soon the date came to an end and we left the restaurant with awkward goodbyes. I badly wanted him to hold me, but then maybe another time…

couple at restaurant : Image source

We talked for a couple of months and I didn’t even realise how my feelings for him got stronger and how texting turned into sexting. I badly wanted to be with him but without making it casual; he, on the other hand, had told me that he wasn’t looking for a long-term relationship.

I wanted love, attention, commitment, dreamy dates and steamy kisses, but all he had to offer was a job in his company! While Rihanna found love in a hopeless place, I had to make do with a job offer. We eventually stopped talking and I tried Tinder again, but blame it on fate or the city with limited options, I always end up seeing him on the app. And the moment I see him, I uninstall.

I am not completely over him, but now that I look back I realise how wrong it was to look for love on Tinder. He’d tell me he found me hot, cute, a genuine friend and somebody he could rely on, and yet he didn’t want to date me.

This is something beyond me; as my friend says, “Tinder or no Tinder, it’s a sin to look for love in a time of hook-up culture.” And hopeless romantics like me are just victims!

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