Three weeks on Tinder…An Indian Girl’s Story.
Most of us expats arrived in Dubai with a timeline in our minds regarding how long we are going to stay in this glamorous city. At least, that was the case with me and most of the people I know. This city to me is a glorious transit city of mostly single people. You are constantly meeting people from all over the world stopping by for a period of couple of years and then catch another flight and carry on elsewhere. For most of us, time in Dubai is a long beach holiday with career growth served on the side. In this short while we make plenty of friends to hang out with, party away our weekends with and laugh over at brunches with. The fact that most of us are outsiders, brings us all together and we do our best to get along well with everyone with no judgement on race, skin colour or political interests. How well we settled into this city sometimes remind me of kindergarten days, when scared little versions of us were put together into a class room and by lunch break we were all friends and ready to take on the world as one! In Dubai, your social circle keep evolving as well, Alice you hung out with last week gets replaced with an Alison who moved into the city recently. And so it goes…
So what’s the situation with love and relationships? Do you find lasting love in Dubai? Or find love just for the night? The transit nature of our lives in Dubai unconsciously reflects in our love life, where we are not looking for anything long term, as we ourselves are not sure how long we are going to be living in this ever so changing city. You might meet someone great, things seem to go well and then you learn they would move away in a few months. And if you belong to the “careful not to get my heart broken” category, your precocious mind steps on the brake and you find yourself not interested in investing further time into the relationship. Why sign up for an event, which you won’t be in town to attend in the first place? But if you are the kind that throws caution to the wind, and jumps right into the whirlpool of emotions that awaits you for a short couple of months, all in the name of love, you my fellow expat are a brave soul and I bow my head to you in respect!
Some of you may not agree, but we all are programmed to find love from such a young age, I find it quite embarrassing. Love is the answer to all your questions and problems. Love is on my mind more often than it should be, amongst various attempts to eat healthy (quinoa or pizza for lunch?), staying fit (how many steps did I cover at the mall today?), paying bills (didn’t I just pay them off last week? Oh wait, a month has gone by? Where does all the time go?) and wondering what’s wrong with this world (let’s not get into that, but the answer is lack of love).
My search for love in the sandpit, took me to couple of dating apps which is not blocked in Dubai yet. One of the most notable one being Tinder. I guess I should start by shedding some light on my cultural background. I’m an Indian girl who straddles the imaginary line between being traditional/conservative and modern. I’m willing to date guys of any nationality who can arouse an intellectual curiosity in me, who refrains from smoking, who has better interests than hanging out at clubs four nights a week and follows the Christian faith (religion is quite an important deciding factor on whom I date). One night stands or casual hook ups are ideas that don’t sit well with my culture and traditions, and it’s not something I want to get into in this lifetime. Indian culture is quite warm and friendly, and as far as relationships are concerned, we love to dot on
our love interests with lot of affection without coming across as flirtatious. We are incurable romantics at heart, if you have watched any Bollywood movie, you would nod your head in agreement. We don’t play the dating game (I should wait so and so hours before answering his text or pretend to be unavailable when he tries to make plans with me), may be because dating is a Millenial concept for us in a country where arranged marriages are still the widely accepted norm. I’m sure you can picture how this cultural mindset and an app like Tinder are like oil and water. I created a profile on Tinder anyway, jotted down few points that sounded interesting about myself and I was on my way to find love.
On Tinder I found guys to belong to the below categories. I apologize for generalizing, but for all intents and purpose of writing this article, I had to.
- 6 pack abs multiple shots guy : He doesn’t bother to write a description about himself, because only thing he cares about is his buff body and “getting some” over the weekend.
- Been there, done it all guy : Skydiving In Dubai? Check. Scuba Diving in Palm Jumeirah? Check. Dapper shot at Cavalli Club? Check. Brunches? Check. Petting a wild animal? Check. Sitting in a sports car? Check.
- Overly sensitive guy : Emotional quotes lamenting about his lost love as shots, no self shots.
- The Funny guy : He has a shot of himself wearing a funny onesie and most of his shots are funny facial expressions sometimes accompanied with beer mugs. May need to check himself into a rehab sooner or later.
- Masochistic guy : Goes about insulting women on Tinder and women in general, makes you wonder why he is even on the app in the first place and makes you say a silent prayer for the unfortunate woman who will end up with him someday.
- Transit guy : Just in town for two or three days, purely looking for some fun with no strings attached.
- 2+1 means more fun : Couples looking for a third party to spice up their life.
- Here to make only friends guy : The ones who did not get the memo on how Tinder works.
- My dog is my best buddy guy : He has warned you that he is a package deal and chances are you can never be his first priority.
- The stalker guy : You swiped left on his profile, but he looks you up on Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram and messages you persistently. The kind that triggers your paranoia and make you affirm that privacy is a myth in this digital age.
- The married man : He’s open about his adultery. You got to give him points for honesty though.
- The Simpleton: This one probably likes to read, just one or two selfies with Dubai architecture on the back drop or a shot by the beach.
On Tinder in Dubai, you can find men from various countries. Most of them don’t have English as a first language, and this leads to communication barriers at times and you find yourself trying to explain lines like “Did you survive the week okay?”. And then there are those few guys that you hit it off quite well with. You build a good rapport, throw in some funny anecdotes and flirt innocently and next thing, you are exchanging numbers. You start whatsapping each other, spends hours on chatting, may be even the entire night, several nights in a row. After several evenings of nonstop texting and voice messages, you begin to wonder whether you are ever going to meet in person. You don’t intend to sound pushy(that’s what the Hollywood taught me), but you approach the subject carefully as all those late night chats have started to build an image in your mind about this guy and you are just curious to meet him in person. And that’s when you face the harsh reality. After making plans with you to meet up for coffee(he is careful not to set a specific time or date), he disappears off whatsapp. Your texts go unanswered, leaving you wondering what happened. He was not in it, to go through meeting in person. Probably he just enjoyed those fun quips with you, because he was lonely. May be he just needed a dose of feminine energy in his life after a tough day at work. May be he realized you are not going to give in to a casual hook up and he didn’t want to waste his time any further. May be the cultural differences was too difficult for him to embrace. May be he was just plain lazy? Whatever the reasons may be, when two guys ghosted on me in this manner across a span of two weeks, the app left me in a state of confusion. By the end of third week, after some introspection, I bid goodbye to the app. Not because I felt defeated, but because I realized the behavior of these guys had nothing to do with who I am as a woman and what I have to offer is much more valuable and my time and attention shouldn’t be carelessly bestowed upon guys who just want to hide behind their phones feeding their ego.
So why was Tinder experience a disaster in my opinion? Dubai is a city with immense number of tourists, close to more than a million people are flying in and out of Dubai on a monthly basis. This adds up to a lot of people on Tinder. And from what I have seen, there is no lack of good looking people ready to have some fun time in this city. These kinds of apps that focus mainly on face value, gets us addicted to the whole swipe left and right culture. We don’t even try to give a chance to someone slightly less compatible than our expectations, because we know there is a multitude of people waiting right after the picture you are staring at to evoke your curiosity. In my real life, I don’t dwell on what ifs much. I don’t cry over spilled drinks most of the time(unless it was a fine glass of Chardonnay, then I wallow over it for a bit longer than it is necessary) This constant search for something better, is what’s wrong with the Tinder culture. When we have more than twenty or thirty matches a day, we get lazy. We don’t make any attempts to even initiate a chat. In most cases, we just end up collecting matches with no conversation what so ever. Initially, I waited around for the guys to message me, then when that was not happening, I decided to make the first step. And it did work out well, I did end up having some good banter with some good people. But once the conversation fell off the wagon, there was no attempt from either side to pick it up. I guess this is because we are half heartedly starting off conversations with another match , on another day. This superficial connection we build with random strangers that the app has lined up for us based on our location and few shared interests on Facebook is not meant to last. It’s like the wisps from the Disney movie “Brave”. You can chase it, chances are it disappears before you can even catch up. And when you do eventually catch up, odds turn against you and you end up regretting your decision to have followed the wisp in the first place. May be three weeks was too little a time to arrive on this kind of conclusion on, but I don’t think things could have gotten any better. I consulted couple of my friends who have been using Tinder for a while now and this was the general feedback I received. Even if you progressed on to a face to face meeting, and it goes well (because we are all polite as f***) chances are you don’t land a second date. Why you may ask. Because, you get back home and you are already back on Tinder finding more matches. The excitement of knowing someone within your proximity is checking you out and liking you, is too good an ego boost to ignore. Do you see how vicious this circle gets? This has what being on dating apps have come to unfortunately. This app just worked well for people who just wanted to have fun. And that’s absolutely fine, in our busy career driven lives, we do deserve some fun in our lives and Tinder delivers just right about that on to our palms.
In the end, what about finding the lasting love that John Legend sings about (or makes you want to sing along to John Legend)? My experience on Tinder didn’t really make me hopeless or make me want to leave this planet for a better one. I have been fortunate enough to meet some positive people and their energy and life experiences convinces me that, finding love is not an elusive task or a desert mirage. If I may be bold enough to bore you with the Secret theory by Rhonda Byrne, first I need to be absolutely clear and specific about what I want. How I envision my future relationships, what tangible results do I need and be specific about the time frame. I’m a big believer of the power of positive thinking. I’m absolutely positive that when my heart is ready to receive the abundance of love that this universe has in store for me, my life partner(bless him, he’s going to be a fabulous man) would walk right into my life. It could happen on a weekend morning at one of my favorite café. Or at work, or at one of those Dubai brunches(which I have stopped going to these days) or at an airport(imagine that! The euphoria of travelling somewhere mixed with the oxytocin released in your body by the much talked about love at first sight!) It could even be someone my parents would find me(after all, arranged marriages are still a big thing in my culture). I just need to realize that time is an illusion and our journeys to each other has already happened in a parallel time frame and it’s just a matter of time before he manifests in front of me. It could be any day now. In the meantime, let’s all spread as much love and compassion in the world as much as we possibly can. As much as we need it, others need it as well.