Dating Apps: Initiator of Modern Love or Bullying, Stories that Depict How it Changed Lives for Better or Worse

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Dating Apps: Initiator of Modern Love or Bullying, Stories that Depict How it Changed Lives for Better or Worse
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Ever since the pandemic, the new normal has become online and dating is not far behind. Being in quarantine with minimal physical contact and social interaction was a trigger for most people to join several online dating apps.

According to Dr. Aditi Paul, author of ‘The Current Collegiate Hookup Culture: Dating Apps, Hookup Scripts, and Sexual Outcomes’ – “Covid19 made it impossible for us to meet face to face. Online dating gave a way for people to still partake in dating without risking their health”.

2022 has brought the return of some much-loved pre-pandemic behaviour, however, the future of dating holds many new and welcomed shifts. Priorities saw a seismic shift, and this has shaped the way single people in India approach dating, sex, and intimacy. Per Bumble’s study conducted last year in India, “72% of single Indians surveyed think it is possible to fall in love with someone online who they have never met in person. A further 45% of single Indians surveyed believe virtual or online dating is the normal way of dating in India.” says,  Samarpita Samaddar, India Communications Director, Bumble.

It warded many people off of an organic process to experience love but came to a rescue in some cases, in others not.

According to a report by Tinder, the past 2 years have been the busiest time of dating where there was a rise in the following trends- 67% of singles find it more liberating to meet new people online and 60% feel they feel less judged while meeting people online.

The pandemic also brought conversations about personal boundaries, According to Tinder India’s Future of Dating report, members used their bios to make their expectations clear: the phrase ‘wear Mm a mask’ went up 100X over the course of the pandemic, ‘boundaries’ is being used more than ever (up 19%), and the term ‘consent’ rose 11%.

In order to understand how dating apps truly function and what goes on in them, we asked people around us to share their original experiences and while a few may completely throw you off remember there is always light at the end of the tunnel.

You Aren’t The One For Me (Graphics: News18)

Online dating is a pool of different narratives, a casual flirty text doesn’t take a lot of time to escalate into something grave or something funny.

The possibility of finding a soulmate on a dating app may excite many but what if you stumble upon someone your views don’t match with? Just looking at their profile you know that you’re poles apart.

Will you just swipe left or will you take a leap of faith and go by the saying “Opposites Attract”? This is the story of a 23-year-old boy, he was following his daily routine of swiping through and browsing the apps when he stumbled upon a profile that caught his attention.

In bold it read ‘Liberals please swipe left, I may be annoying.’

When you’re told to not do a thing, you do it anyway right? He didn’t swipe but super-swiped the profile, he looked her up the next day and found out that she was a popular face on social media.

The super swipe really helped him build a base and they started talking, there were a lot of things which they didn’t agree on but it didn’t change their vibe.

In fact, they vibed a lot and were constantly hanging out and talking for three months.

But all good things don’t last for long, or do they? After three months of constant banter, she came clean. “Hey Sankalp (Name changed on request)  you’re a year younger than me and we are from separate castes as well. I can’t continue to talk to you because I can’t marry you. I am sorry!”

Sankalp took some time to register what just happened, a girl stopped talking to him, okay! A girl stopped talking to him because she couldn’t marry him after three months of knowing him because he was a year younger? WHAT?!

Ever since that incident, Sankalp has taken it upon himself to narrate this bizarre incident as a joke, but the joke hasn’t ended yet.

“She sent me photos of four prospective suitors and asked me to choose” is where this story becomes a mic drop-worthy open mic set.

Hey…I’ll Text You Never (Graphics: News18)

Well, one of the greatest perils of modern-day online dating is definitely ghosting- we fear it, we do not want it but more than often it is hard to evade. For those lucky ones who are unaware of it, ghosting is the act of ending a relationship, fling or even for that matter a conversation unannounced and without any sort of clarification.

M.N (initials used as per request)  a sales executive based in Kolkata was “very hopeful” when she started using dating apps. But it started taking a toll on her when her online dates started ghosting her.

She said, “I feel like we are all adults on a dating app and if something is not clicking or working we can have a conversation and part ways amicably. I did try a few times to connect and possibly have a conversation and it made me feel horrible because you keep thinking if you have screwed up somewhere.”

“Not getting closure takes a toll on your self-confidence especially given that I get panic attacks and have anxiety,” she added.

Dr. Shyam Mithiya a relationship expert, neuropsychiatrist and sexologist in this regard said, “We have seen people coming to us irrespective of their orientation, coming as victims. They ended up in anxiety or depression because they were not ready to accept that something like this can happen.”

He pointed out that a person tends to ghost others for their own self-confidence and often to seek validation from the other person involved in the act.

It took a while for M.N to get over what she had gone through, she says, “At that point, it took a lot of time for me to come out of it, but I guess with time you realise what’s for the best.”

She would drown herself in work, working out and occasional shopping sprees to get over it. For those stuck in reverse, it is always easier said than that but these are useful hacks you could try as well.

Trust Me, I am Lying (Graphics: News18)

Shruti (Name changed on request) was in the second year of college when she first thought of exploring the world of dating apps, the first few hours went really well up until she started speaking to a man who by the first look of it seemed “decent enough.”

The man after a few hours of talking to her wanted to meet her right away, she was hesitant at first but gave in because her friends wanted her to meet someone new. She waited after college to meet the man she had been speaking to only to find out it was an alias who had been using someone else’s picture.

Similarly, Rishi (Name changed on request) was going through his dating app profile when he got a message from someone who wanted to catch up with him in the next one hour’s time, this was not the first time he had received such a message.

He wanted to wait it out and see what happens after which he received a similar message from another account which said, “We have been texting you for so long, why do you not reply? Come meet me today with 5k in the evening.” He confirmed with a police officer friend of his that evening who said that several sex rackets were playing out through these apps.

Dr. Mithiya talking about Catfishing explained, “Cannot pinpoint a single reason, people with various personality disorders knowingly unknowingly do such things and it can often stem out of individual insecurity which they want to resolve from such events.”

Dr. Paul speaking along the same lines mentioned, “In online spaces and in dating, you are putting yourself out there and giving strangers access to you. This can open doors for bullying or social rejection. This judgment from others inculcates a sense of insecurity in all of us which could lead us to lie about ourselves. It is not always done with malicious intent.

Not A Perfect World (Graphics: News18)

To be very honest dating apps can be a real hassle, you get to meet all types of people there from someone you can actually have a meaningful conversation with to a certified creep and with times evolving dating apps should try and create a more secure and inclusive place for those belonging to the LGBTQ community and the ones who are trying to explore their identity.

Urmi (Name changed on request) somebody who identifies as a queer person had always looked forward to using dating apps because for him it meant endless possibilities of being able to find the right person. But, to his utter dismay, most people on these turned out to be invasive.

“Basically some people think that since I am a queer person I will be down for everything. There are a few name-callings and some just right swipes to tell me why I am not queer,” he said.

He further added, “Well, on these apps I had people asking me weird questions. I mean it is ok for cishet  to be curious about sexuality and gender identity but there is a line and I saw people on these apps did not hesitate to cross it.”

Shyam Mithiya in this context said, “The queer community has always gone through stigma, criticism, abuses, judgement and online it is more common. The few people who want to do casual may be straight but come off queer to ridicule them.”

But, there is a changing norm that we are noticing in traditional gender-based relationships and Dr. Aditi Paul says, “Conversations around gender fluidity and diversity in sexual orientations are becoming more and more commonplace in today’s world. Being immersed in this culture is transforming the way in which we are thinking about traditional gender-based relationships.”

She added, “This is a rising tide and it will only go upward from here. But with any acute social change, there comes a tide of regression. I wouldn’t be surprised if this liberal way of thinking pushes a certain sect of the audience to be even more staunch in their traditional relationship beliefs.”

Love At First Swipe (Graphics: News18)

Amidst serious cases of abandonment and hoaxes, there are common judgements based on relationships which stem from dating apps.

According to Psychotherapist and Relationship Expert, Neeta V Shetty “Judgements are there for people who have gotten into a relationship through online dating apps, these mostly revolve around that the relationship isn’t serious. But, this is very individual-centric and not completely true.”

There are positive love stories from the online dating scene as well. This story is of Onusree, from Kolkata who found love during a time she least expected it.

It all began when she had an urge to get out and talk to random people after a sour breakup. She downloaded dating apps and was casually browsing through and swiping left and right.

But, a guy caught her attention, he made her comfortable over text, which developed into a series of calls that later turned into overnight conversations.

Their initial idea was just a hook-up, he was a non-Bengali and she didn’t have prior experience dating one.

They were in constant touch for a month, this was during the second lockdown when she was in Kolkata and he was in Jharkhand.

When things settled they met at a café and later went to his house. Things happened but they didn’t think anything beyond it and were wary if this would take any shape after Covid.

But, they withstood more lockdowns together and soon turned into a couple. Before terming it a ‘relationship’ they dated for four months to understand their compatibility.

Now, after a year they are together, they live together in a different city, manage and make things work.

“Not all dating apps land you into one-night stands or hookups. Maybe I was lucky or maybe we are meant to be together. It has been a rollercoaster for us, we have fun with the diversity in our culture and way of life. Somehow we still make things work,” she said.

“Being the generation that has always broken the norms of conventional dating, young adults have been steadily redefining what dating means to them. 2022 is the year of dating on their own terms, meeting people IRL and taking their time to see where things go. Young adults are more honest about what they want from a match, are not afraid of setting their boundaries in place and are increasingly looking for matches based on similar, shared interests.” says, Taru Kapoor – General Manager of India, Tinder and Match Group.

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