What It Feels Like To Be In A Monogamous Relationship In The Era Of Dating Apps Like Tinder, Bumble And Hinge
Did I Miss The Bus On Dating Apps?

As a millennial caught between India’s growing online dating culture and a decade-long (and continuing) monogamous relationship, this writer muses if she missed the bus or got saved by the bell

Tinder officially came to India in 2013 after a soft launch in 2012. By then, I was in the grips of a new love, considering colouring my hair pink (which I did the next year) and bunking Political Theory classes to smoke cigarettes in the back lane of an adjoining college which was co-ed — mine was not. It was an all-girls convent straight out of the 18th century, with a Sister who made ‘Value Education’ classes compulsory, where we were sermonised on the devilish nature of abortions. Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to get out and get out I did, moving 1,562.2 kms away from my hometown, Kolkata, to pursue masters in Delhi in 2014.


This was when Tinder was really picking up, especially in urban cities. By October that year, users were making 1 billion swipes a day and spending close to 90 minutes on the app, as per a report in the New York Times, titled “Tinder, the Fastest Growing Dating App, Taps an Age Old Truth”. But this was also when my new love had turned a tad old and would slip into the murky terrains of an LDR or Long Distance Relationship. A decade later, I would marry the same love in a secular ceremony, where we would write our own vows, and indeed, our own rules. In that time, Indians will have already become well acquainted with the pursuits and perils of online dating culture, with apps like Bumble, Hinge, OkCupid, TrulyMadly and Happn sharing equal space with essential apps like Zomato, Swiggy and Google Pay. I watched this tectonic shift in India’s dating landscape from the sidelines as a committed (well, for the most part) girlfriend, who turned into roommate and recently, wife. And I would be lying if I didn’t accept that more than once, I thought to myself, “Did I miss out?”



It was mostly what the kids call FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). Each time, my friend cancelled plans to go out on a Bumble date, a childhood pal shared the racy details of a situationship “that was hella confusing” but also rife with “the best sex they’d ever had,” a co-worker felt like “it was going somewhere,” and a GenZ offered up the salacious details of their dating-app-spurred sexcapades that were equal parts ‘fun’ and ‘exhausting’, I felt like I had missed the bus; and missed out on an entire phenomenon that was otherwise defining for selfsame millennials around me. Had I ‘settled down’ too soon, adjusted too much, and disallowed myself the exploration of life and love that is crucial to a 20-something? Girlfriends around me matched with gym boys and ‘bedroom’ music producers; guy friends talked about getting ‘ghosted,’ by women; and my queer friends? Well, they had the juiciest tales to tell — from being robbed after a Grindr-made threesome went awry to finding long-term fuck buddies on the app designed for the LGBTQIA+ community. A few years ago, drawn in by the sheer and seeming possibilities of this world, I made my Tinder and Bumble profiles, too. Mostly, after a near-relationship-ending fight, where I hurled out of our dilapidating house in Versova, packed my bag, the cat, and hiked all the way to Byculla to stay with a friend. I wanted to see what more was available, and as much as I hate to admit it, I came back home, cat and all, tail tucked between my legs, in less than 24 hours.


True that there were friends who had found handsome hunks from all corners of the world, including one who readily flew with them to a beach town in Karnataka to celebrate their 28th birthday. There were family members, tired from the grisly state of arranged marriages, who had joined Muslim-only dating apps and found a life partner. There were acquaintances, who went from nursing a broken heart in January 2021 to being married in February 2022, making me feel like it was easier finding a husband than a job. But there were also those who came rushing home after deleting all their dating apps for the fifth time that month; complained listlessly about how nerve-wracking online dating was; bitched about having to explain and introduce themselves to every new match, and most importantly, women, who had started feeling the need to share their Whatsapp live location after the last Hinge date made them feel unsafe.



All this, and the few times I used a dating app — albeit for a handful of hours and after nasty fights, before hurriedly deleting any and all evidence — I found nada. Not even a flirty friendship, to keep me afloat, for when the going gets tough, the sex feels boring and the flames that lit up a love 10 years ago seemed dimmed. I have found myself musing over such thoughts on many occasions. Sometimes, lying in the arms of my decade-old love, roommate, partner and husband, who perhaps, also missed the bus on dating apps, when he held my hand many moons ago, promised to never leave and stayed. And just like that, it all made sense. Who wants to deal with the anxiety of being ‘left at seen,’ when you can have someone fetch you cold water and scratch parts of your body you can’t reach. Sure, it’s missing the high-paced thrill of a new love. But you know what they say about stuff that’s old, right? And my love, whom I found smirking under a banyan tree (interestingly, the same year that Tinder launched) is golden.

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