#ModernDating: What The Hell Happened To Romance?
If you’re anywhere between 18 and 85, chances are that you are part of the Modern Dating movement. Dating apps, text conversations, and dick pics seem to be the order of the day. But what about old-fashioned romance, writing letters to your lover, sending flowers, whispering sweet nothings, and actually waiting for The One? Is it all dead? Do you now have to make peace with “Wanna hang?” texts as opposed to proper dinner invitations? Honestly, we don’t know. But it helps to know you’re not alone, right? In Hauterfly’s new Modern Dating column, our Managing Editor explores this crazy world and goes through the motions with you — all from personal experience. Don’t forget to log in every Monday.
“So where do you want to meet?”
“Some place with cheap booze, please.”
I stared at my phone with a scowl on my face. This was a guy I was going to meet for the first time. Forget a fancy dinner and flowers, he wanted to go to a dive bar. On a first date.
Granted, I met him on Tinder. But was old-fashioned dating truly dead?
2016 was a weird year. After a period of about 7 years, I suddenly found myself single for a few months (happily, I no longer am #TheRingStayedPut). Not only was it strange living the ‘single girl’ life all over again — not having someone to come home to, and having to take care of things like calling the electrician and figuring out my taxes ON MY OWN — but I was thrown into this cesspool of dating once more. The last time I even remotely dated was when I was 23, and man, were things different then.
Circa 2009, my now-husband asked me out on our first date in a super romantic way — sent dessert and a note to my workplace (clearly he knew about my sweet tooth from Day 1). He then took me out for a fancy dinner, dropped me home like a gentleman, and pulled out a bouquet of flowers from his bag right before I entered my building. Needless to say, I was floored *insert lovestruck emoji*.
Cut to 7 years later, and I was being asked to meet a virtual stranger at a dive bar on a first date. And this wasn’t the only one. One guy wanted to take me to Trilogy, a cacophonous nightclub in the ‘burbs of Mumbai. One I particularly don’t like.
He, in his own words, wanted to meet me at the club, shimmy to a few tunes, and then take me home. When I politely declined, saying I’d rather first meet for drinks where we could have a conversation, he promptly unmatched me.
Clearly I’d missed the memo. I know 7 years is a long time to be out of the scene, but were things like patience, chivalry, and romance truly dead? Correction: are they all dead?
Of course, once I got the hang of things, I had my share of fun. It was liberating not being answerable to anyone, not having to call back or respond to messages, and to date more than one person at the same time, sometimes in the course of the same day.
I heard everything from “I’m just looking for a fuck buddy” and “I really like you, I think we can make this work, but let’s not put a label to it” to — and this one’s my favourite — “I want to make love to your mind”. Barf.
Modern dating has become much like grocery shopping — so many options, so little time. So what do you do? You pick up a bit of everything to see what suits your taste. But you see, the problem with that is (and this is a legit problem I have while grocery shopping) that you can never finally decide on what it is that you actually like. Something you can actually buy every single time you go back to the grocery store henceforth.
Luckily for me, a lot of my friends (guys and girls) were going through exactly what I was. Meeting person after person, floating from one bar to another, one bed to another, one walk of shame to the next, without really finding anything meaty (pun intended). Misery clearly loves company.
But it didn’t take me long to see through it. Oddly enough, every single man I met during my short-lived single period turned to me like a shrink, to the point where my friends suggested that I start charging for these sessions…I mean dates. Wait…that sounds wrong, but you get my drift.
Every single guy would meet me for the very first time and download their entire life history to me — family, heartbreaks, work problems, everything. And I would look them in the eye and listen. No judgement, no questions, just listen. And each of them opened up to me more and more.
And that’s when I figured it out. Sure, everyone is on the dating conveyor belt, going from one person to the next, one swipe to the next, one match to the next, one rejection to the next, but what everyone is craving, what each and every person is looking and hoping for, is a connection. Someone to talk to, someone who would listen, with undivided attention and no judgement. And someday perhaps, love too, although almost no one was courageous enough to admit it.
From the guy whose ex cheated on him, to the one whose wife left him, to the one who was in love with a married mother of two, and the one who used his sarcasm as a defence to shield his fear of rejection, all anybody was looking for was approval, a friend, someone to come home to.
Along the way, they were having some fun, warming their beds, and keeping themselves busy enough every evening to make sure no one saw through the loneliness. And on the off chance that they started feeling too attached, felt the connection they craved, they would shut down and run. It was just too scary. What if the heart would be broken again? What if the guard would fall? What if the armour would crack? It just wasn’t worth the risk.
Modern dating is a whirlwind rollercoaster ride and your co-passenger can change as often as you like. But will you find the one who will hold your hand through the stomach-curling ride on the Tinders, Happns, and Woos of the world?
Maybe not. But then again, maybe you will. You never know until you try, right?