Dating Games: From Heathcliff to Harami No 1

Love and Sex

Dating Games: From Heathcliff to Harami No 1

Illustration: Akshita Monga

“I think, that he thinks, that I think he is in love with me and therefore I am in love with him. Which, I think, is now pissing him off. But clearly he has no feelings for me and cares two fucks about what he thinks I think!”

It was 10.30 pm and Eva was distraught. She walked in from the edit of her TV show pissed drunk, proceeded to eat all my liqueur chocolates, and drank the entire bottle of Mateus. I sat there handing her tissues, ruefully eyeing the chocolates that I so liked to use during food foreplay, while she wailed, “Oh, why is it so difficult to find someone you can love without some goddamn game involved in it? Why can’t we all be DIRECT? You like me, I like you, bring it ON!”

I cursed myself for setting up Eva with my male BFF – the great Shoulder Singh or SS. A note about SS: He is my go-to guy for all things to do with the male world. He answers all my questions about the male species that Google can’t. For example, what kinds of names do men give vaginas? Or how to download porn without the government knowing it’s me watching? SS always has helpful answers like, “Blame your son” or “Don’t ask dumb questions, let’s go get a drink.” He is also the strong male shoulder I cry on while PMSing or on full-moon nights.

Last month, I thought it was perfect to introduce my feisty GF to SS. I imagined a beautiful wedding where I would look fabulous. But SS rather abruptly cut off my wedding fantasy by dicking around with Eva, not replying to her messages, making a date and then cancelling. He confused the hell out of her with all the ping-ponging, which sent her straight to my couch.

It struck me that nowadays the thirty-something men like SS were behaving rather oddly. Almost like a herd of deer, right before a forest fire. Ever since urban women decided to “get it on” they seem to be choosing to get off. We’ve all seen them choosing safety in numbers, hanging around solo or in small groups in waterholes on Yari Road or heading for football games on bikes. Single, spiffy, and well-fucked.

Why would my SS, who wasn’t really Versova ka Val Kilmer, shy away from more glorious sex with the beauteous and luscious Eva?

Two months after the Eva-SS debacle, I was having drinks with SS, as he vociferously explained to me the break up he’d just had with another woman – a gorgeous airhostess. I watched him sceptically as he struggled with the right words to explain his disenchantment. Finally, he said, “She just doesn’t have latitude.”

The morning after they both text each other furiously while at work. He wants it again badly, he says; she is happy and swept off her feet.

It got me thinking about all my single male friends and their love lives. Newsflash, India! Your average men with their average-sized members are dumping gorgeous women on whimsical grounds. I suddenly had an epiphany about why Eva and my other girls end up distraught: Thirty-something, single, “well-fucked” men are playing a game – a game of musical chairs with the endless supply of gorgeous women available on Tinder on any given day of the week. They hang for as long as the music stops, and then, they’re off, basic instincts satisfied.

The game goes like this: The thirty-something man puts on his sharp shirt and his best “Mr Darcy meets Heathcliff” impression. The wining is great, there is hardly any need for dining, and she’s already in his bed. Rough sex, slow sex, languid or frenzied sex, until both parties are satisfied.

The morning after they both text each other furiously while at work. He wants it again badly, he says; she is happy and swept off her feet. She plays the “not tonight” card, but the next day there is definite breakfast sex. Now, the man has passed his four-time mark and affectionately pats her bottom with a “Getting late for work babe.”

And then he disappears. He is already responding to the two-day old Tinder “Hi” while she’s in the shower. The music has started once again and he has moved on.

Eva and my girls, on the other hand, aren’t playing a game. They’re playing a sport, something that requires a little more dedication. Say, they’re playing basketball, and they’re engaged with one ball for the duration of the play. The duration of play need not be long and end in an NBA career, but it does involve a fun, affectionate sexual relationship with an undertone of friendship. The big difference is that the duration is slightly longer than the time it takes to get four fucks out of the way.

This essential difference in the approach to dating has caused many women like Eva to end up on my couch and eat my chocolates. Because the man they liked has gone straight from Heathcliff to Harami No 1. She continues to send affectionate and sexy messages; he responds to the sexy ones, pointedly ignoring any other and making clear that the transaction is about one thing and one thing only.

She may say, “You have such kind eyes” but he will respond with “You have sexy eyes.” Grrrrr. Soon she realises that he is not much into texting (although he is on WhatsApp often). Confusion will lead to some bewildered drunk emotions, where she will clarify breezily that she wasn’t expecting anything more than a fuck, but her entire day will be now spent watching his “online” and “last seen” time stamps. But he doesn’t care. She has already passed like a shiny, brief meteor in his star-lit sky.

A little confused and very pissed, Eva eventually moved on from SS and found an investment banker, who is on for basketball. My SS, meanwhile, continues to play musical chairs. I’ve decided to register him on on the insistence of his mother, but he’s found a way around that too – he’s decided to treat it like Tinder.

In this world of instant hookups, bewildered women are learning that common courtesy is no longer a part of being a gentleman. It’s okay to breezily bypass a woman you have spent last night making love to. Lana Turner had once said, “A gentleman is simply a patient wolf.” For the urban male, all gentlemanly charades are off; it’s the time of the wolf.