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Move over Shaadi.com – young Indian adults have new ways to seek out relationships.

The advent of Tinder in the global smartphone community has revolutionized dating and casual hookups. With Tinder allowing people to ‘swipe right’ – a signal for their interest in taking forward a correspondence – it has become easier for people to jump right to the point.

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But in India, well, our country’s Tinder users function differently.

For a country that’s modestly skirting between multiple liaisons and till-death-do-us-parts, Indians have always had uncomfortable, awkward confrontations with pre-marital relationships. With Tinder having a reputation for being a hook-up site and little else, it’s easy to understand why several young people in the country might be attracted to or repelled by it, depending on who you’re asking. But there’s more to the dating app than what’s being said, and following a few basic rules will help you have a fulfilling Tinder experience.

Tinder is not a place for friendship

It’s called a dating app for a reason. If friends are all you’re seeking then maybe Tinder is not the place for you – try Twitter, Facebook or internet chat rooms. The app has been designed for people to find romantic or sexual partners, so you looking for friends would be a sore point to someone who swiped right on your name expecting something more.

Know what you want and be clear about it

You may want a casual hookup with someone or you may be looking for something serious. It’s alright to have either preference. Just be clear about that going in. You will find several who might be charming enough to sweep you off your feet, but may not want the same things you do. That will result in drama and disappointment that you clearly weren’t prepared for. People have found love, spouses, best friends and sexual partners on Tinder. You will too.

People will want to hook up, don’t be shocked

“I had matched with this boy on Tinder, who happened to be from the same community I was. And while I wasn’t particularly impressed with his profile, we had some mutual friends whose judgement I trusted, so I swiped right. A few conversations in, when I told him I was looking for something casual, he was shocked. His actual response was ‘Wow yaar, you’re the modern types haan? Will your parents be okay with it’. Immediately unmatched him right away.” – Priya, Mumbai, 25.

Yes yes, you may be from a family that has taught you to have just one partner and one partner for life. But others may not, so don’t judge them or slut-shame them for it. You can turn someone down as sternly as you want – but don’t give them a lesson on the Indian code of morality. No one has the time.

Make sure to know a person enough before initiating something with them

“There was this girl I had only spoken to once, and she was adamant we meet. I was with a few friends in Bandra, and she said she’ll drop in! Just like that! And how was I supposed to introduce her to my friends without having met her myself? Anyway, she walks in, sits next to me, and is super clingy like an actual girlfriend. And to think I only spoke to her once! It was the awkwardest evening I’d ever had” – Vikram Bhatia, Mumbai, 24

The Internet is a strange, strange place. The person you find really hot, might be two kilometres away, but that’s no reason to speed up a quick meet. It could be potentially dangerous to you, or result in an awkward first meeting that you don’t deserve. Make sure to know a person enough to have some positive opinion about them, before you initiate anything at all.

If someone asks you out, be honest

You may find someone unattractive and not want to go out with them, but telling them that you will and tallying it to avoid it altogether makes you look like the asshole who cannot even be honest. If you wish to go out with someone, accept their invitation and make an actual plan and meet with it. If you don’t, turn them down politely with absolute integrity and honesty. Don’t lead them on.

Or ask them out, if you like them enough. This holds especially for our women. This isn’t India of the 1980s when you may have been too shy to approach a man. Be a millennial young woman and ask a guy out if you find him attractive. The worst that could happen would be that he might turn you down. It won’t kill you. On the other hand, when a guy will accept your invitation, you will feel empowered for having taken control.

Don’t be embarrassed by it

“I met the guy I’m dating on Tinder. And while I thank the app for having introduced me to such a beautiful man, I was very embarrassed to admit that. So I would often tell people that we met at a house party. But this one time, I got really drunk and admitted that I had met him on Tinder! It was awkward but also relieving. And my friends made fun of me for a while, but hey, I’m the one who has a great boyfriend, right?” – Anupama Singh, 20.

Tinder users in India are often judged by their friends and colleagues, and often use the app in secret. Do not be embarrassed by what you’re looking for and what you like. When you come down to it, meeting people over Tinder is as strange as meeting people anywhere. Some have assumed normalcy, while this will take time. Own up to it.

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