Unlucky in Love: Your Tinder and Hinge Dates Are My Comedy Show

Love and Sex

Unlucky in Love: Your Tinder and Hinge Dates Are My Comedy Show

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

Quantity over quality. That’s the principle that dictates both the output of Indian TV serials as well as the modern dating scene. I’m not even talking about the difficulty of finding someone special in a wasteland of bad matches and nightmare dates, but the – honestly, unnecessary – number of dating apps available for people today. They’re more plentiful than the bum notes in an Anu Malik song, and I’m starting to lose track.

I’m only 26 years old, but I start to feel ancient when I realise just how out of touch I am with modern dating. A six-year steady relationship has kept me insulated from these new-fangled contraptions that people now use to find love – or something like it. Not to sound like my inner old man, back in my day, all we had to facilitate hook-ups was a hopeful text and actual social interaction. By the time Tinder was catching on in India, my girlfriend and I were looking at flats to stay in together.

Since then, I’ve had a ringside view to the circus you kids call dating. There’s Tinder, where the only metric for finding matches is proximity, as if human attraction worked like magnets. Then we have Hinge, which is apparently what all the cool kids are using these days. It connects you to friends of friends and, more often than not, reminds you why you needed a social buffer in the first place. Don’t even get me started on Happn, which shows you prospective partners who have physically crossed your path, in a stalker’s wet dream come true. There’s also Bumble, though I confess I don’t know what its USP could be. Perhaps you only see people who were stung by bees?

With all of these apps supposedly designed by “dating experts” who know the secret to finding love, why do most dates end up like horror stories, not fairy tales? Because, well, not even the matching of all 36 gunas and the aligning of the stars can ensure compatibility. My personal favourite story is when a friend went on a date with a like-minded, “420-friendly” (according to his Hinge bio) partner. What started as a plan to smoke a joint by the seaside ended in a full-blown pot-induced panic attack, a crazed rickshaw ride, and my friend having to escort him to the hospital. That day, my friend learned that dating app bios are just like Republic TV headlines – they should always be taken with a pinch of salt.

We all cope with laughter.

It’s been a long enough time for dating apps to have wormed their way into popular culture. But having skipped their use entirely, watching my friends stumble down this path is a source of great hilarity – even though it is sometimes tinged with a secret longing. I am grateful every day for my relationship, but I also know that the only way I will get a taste of what it’s like on the other side, is to witness what my poor friends have to go through. We all cope with laughter.   

Like the time another friend brought a date he met on Tinder to a party, but neither of them wanted to admit they used the app. So they made up a fictional mutual friend who supposedly introduced them to each other at his house. For the rest of the evening, I gleefully watched my friend sweat as he tried to keep his story about his imaginary friend straight in the face of intense questioning from the other guests.

Even after being burned by fate many times, my generation has little option but to put our faith in dating apps, like the people of India do with the BJP and the Congress every four years. After Hinge was relaunched with a new interface, a serial user of these apps swore to me it was the best thing since sliced bread. The detailed bios, he told me, which sometimes contain more information than a Shaadi.com profile, and guarantee that you’ll meet people in the same social circles as you, ensured more meaningful interactions. “It’s not like Tinder – it weeds out the crazies,” he told me, with a face more serious than an Ingmar Bergman film. A month later, he was contemplating changing his phone number because someone he went on a horrible date with, refused to stop calling him.

I know how twisted it sounds, the fact that I get my jollies out of other people’s misfortunes in love. Watching people navigate an ocean of bad choices using tools like Tinder and Hinge is as entertaining as watching an episode of Takeshi’s Castle. I’m guilty of enjoying a good dose of cringe comedy, and it doesn’t get better than watching people fall flat on their face, whether metaphorically or physically. I will be tried in hell for this. As for the folks who hate me for treating people’s dating app as my comedy show, I’ve only one thing to say to you – something you’ve likely read in countless bios: “M not here 2 mk frndz.”