Almost a decade ago, when I had just started high school, I dated my first boyfriend, my first love. It was the all-consuming kind and I was head-over-heels! I used to write poem after poem, tirelessly trying to put into words — all that my 14-year-old self felt. For nearly a full year, everything was bliss. We were on cloud nine, sharing sweet glances when passing each other on corridors, having friends stand guard while we sneakily spent a few precious minutes alone with stolen kisses and honey-coated whispers. I was sure that I had found the person I’d be with for the rest of my life. It was just too good to be true!
As the year came to an end though, I found that it really had been too good and that it just couldn’t be true! We had gotten past our honeymoon phase. The sparks became a bitter fire as differences crept up, distances increased, and we started growing apart. In a twisted form of poetic justice, we decided to break up on our one-year anniversary. 14th of June 2011. That was also the day all my illusions of being with one man and enjoying just one love story… shattered.
Fast-forward to 2019. It’s the golden age of the millennials, and we are all walking around with the whole world in our hands, conveniently placed inside a sleek smartphone. We are moving far away from our homes to work in new cities, chasing after better opportunities and striving to make our dreams come true. Hustling is the name of the game, and most of us barely have time for another person in our lives, which is exactly why dating apps are blessings in disguise that our generation clings on to for when we crave some
“I spend a lot of time at work and don’t have a work-life balance. At the same time, I’m also very particular about keeping my professional and personal life separate. I knew that with my work habits, it would be hard to have a good companion in my life. Dating apps helped me find people that I could connect with outside work, and that made all the difference,” says Kavya, who works for a recruitment marketing company in Chennai. But that’s not the only reason she likes meeting people through dating apps. “Being on these apps gives me a lot of control over the kind of people I interact with and the relationships I want to forge. It also helps me understand the kind of lifestyle I want outside of work. It is a form of freedom, and I can now confidently move to any part of the world my work takes me, knowing that there will always be someone just a swipe away.”
For many Indian women like Kavya, dating apps provide a means of asserting their preferences and desires and acting on them only as and when they want to. But for those coming from smaller towns, however, these apps open up a whole new world of possibilities that simply wouldn’t be available to them through any other means, as is the case with Aadhya (name changed), who is currently pursuing her
studies in Coimbatore.
She says, “I’m quite new to dating apps, and created my first account barely a month ago. In a small town like mine, Tinder doesn’t really work well. So, I didn’t get a chance to use it until I went to Hyderabad for an internship. In the short time that I’ve used the app, I’ve already met two amazing people and had a great time with both of them.” But here’s the good stuff: “I’ve always known that I’m bisexual, but I never had a chance to explore it much. When I went on a drinks date with a wonderful girl I met on the app, I finally got the opportunity to experiment with that side of me, and it was such an enriching experience, emotionally and physically. I’m still in touch with her and we share a beautiful bond. I’m so glad to have gone through that experience, thanks to Tinder,” Aadhya says. We, as a country, are slowly opening up to non-heterosexual relationships, and the ability to connect with others discreetly through dating apps is paving the way for many people to take the first step in acting on feelings they’ve always known to be true, without fearing any judgement or criticism.
Shreya, a freelance fashion photographer, recently moved to the city after living all her life in Goa. For her, being on dating apps has been a great way of meeting new people in a new city. “I used to be a serial monogamist and had a four-year relationship come to a painful end. I joined a few dating apps after that, and they helped me realize that I can’t be taking life so seriously. Since then, these apps have been a way of putting myself out there and finding like-minded people to connect with. Recently, I met someone who’s surprised me completely and we’re having a really nice time just being with each other, taking things slowly without putting a label
on this relationship.”
While meeting people is the primary function of all these apps, they create a larger impact on the lives of most users. “I don’t think Indian women are ever taught to be alone. But with dating apps, I think we are able to worry less about committing to a relationship and instead, focus on our goals while meeting some nice people on the way. I love being able to explore company when needed but also allowing myself plenty of space to put myself first,” says Shreya.
In the increasingly digital lives we are leading, women are finally being able to voice their opinions and be heard in ways that were not possible before. Dating apps are also very much a part of this digital revolution where women take things into their own hands and exert control over their dating life, breaking away from regressive norms that dictate a woman’s sexuality, who and when she should marry and so on. As women from all walks of life are slowly getting on various digital platforms, thanks to the widespread availability of smartphones and the internet, technology-enabled empowerment is the way forward to achieve a more equal society for women in every way possible. Until then, we will stand our ground defiantly, one swipe at a time.
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