By Farishte Irani
I use Tinder like I watch Bigg Boss: I lay off it for a while before eventually (and repeatedly), giving in to my insatiable need for cheap entertainment. And no, the saddest thing about this isn’t my stubborn singlehood, or the one match who thought “send bobs or i nuke vilage” was a good opening line. It’s the realisation that, in the big, bad world of online dating, honestyis rarely the best policy.
My complete disenchantment with Tinder and Hinge isn’t rooted in a depressing lack of matches. Rather, my inability to transform into the proverbial, modern Tinderella can be blamed on the fact that everyone on dating apps, including me, is fundamentally dishonest. My DP is a meme, followed by carefully chosen photos of myself. You know, not too much cleavage, because sanskar, but just enough to get me laid if I feel like it. Conversations usually involve me complaining about “mainstream music” while listening to Taylor Swift on full volume. The fact that my idea of romance is a large pizza for one is hidden behind a perfectly designed girl, who sometimes looks like me.
About a week into my tryst with Tinder, I realised I wasn’t any better than the fuckbois – the internet defines them as dishonest “man-whores” – I complain about: I just replaced lazy sex with lazy entertainment. Maybe the reason online dating had failed me, was me. So I decided to do the unthinkable, and be myself, the person whom my friends know and sometimes struggle to love.
Yup, truly, madly, brutally me. Hopefully, that would lead to a real conversation and maybe even a connection.
I started off by giving my friends control over my bio, and watched as they tore my meticulously manicured profile to shreds. The meme DP was immediately replaced with a photo of me trying to hug a very angry-looking cat. Thankfully, my friends did leave some half decent fake-candids of me. My bio turned into the love child of Grey’s Anatomy and KRK’s Twitter. Nuggets like “Pick me, choose me, don’t love me because I’ll question your choices,” “I’ll probably can on you last minute,” “I battle humour with feminism,” and an extremely accurate, “The only thing lower than my standards are my expectations.”
His reactions varied from thinly veiled right- swipe regret to compliments about my “boldness”. I found the latter almost sweet until he asked me if the same boldness translated into the bedroom.
All I had to do was translate this new-found honesty into real conversations. Easier said than done.
Being honest on a dating app is like sitting down for the national anthem in the cinema hall: No one expects it, and when they see it for the first time, they usually lose their shit. One of the first “honest” interactions I had was with a fuckboi in disguise – his bio told me that he “valued emotions over sex” and that he was “there to first make friends”. For five whole seconds, I thought that I’d unlocked Tinder Gold for free.
I resisted my urge to impress, instead dropping truth bombs like, “My ideal date involves me not having to shave my legs.” His reactions varied from thinly veiled right- swipe regret to compliments about my “boldness”. I found the latter almost sweet until he asked me if the same boldness translated into the bedroom. To him, my honesty, or as he liked to call it, “lack of effort” meant that I was an easy lay and that he wouldn’t have to waste his time playing nice before presumably ghosting me. In the spirit of honesty, I told him to go fuck himself because no one else was going to.
A few other matches told me to “be more humble” when I replied to compliments with, “I know, right?” instead of a coy, blushing emoji that begged for more. Most of them were self-proclaimed “feminists” who believed more resolutely in a woman’s sanskar-approved coyness than in equality. Some sneered at my unabashed love for all things mainstream, promising to “educate” me with multiple wink emojis. I told them that I could smell their condescension from a mile, and that even five cans of Axe wouldn’t get them laid.
An outcome that I hadn’t bargained for was that my thoughtless texting would bring about an unfortunate amount of honesty in almost all my matches. Maybe a bit of light flirting instead of defending the music of Taylor Swift, would have been nicer, but cutting through my own bullshit was a great way to reveal the fuckbois.
Now, before you think of me as the “man-hating feminist”, not every conversation ended with the texting equivalent of a cage match. Some matches were pleasantly surprised at how unflattering everything about my bio was, which led me to believe that their standards were as low as “OMG, I finally matched with a real person!” Chats with them usually went beyond my boldness in the bedroom, the feminist ideals I so proudly espouse, and the cats who ignored me.
It took some trial and error, but I was finally having conversations that felt like actual exchanges, ones that I wanted to hold on to. All my hopefully witty replies came as naturally as morning breath and awkward sex, mixed perfectly with “Once Upon a Times” that were better than fairy tales. From the comfort of my bedroom, clad in my rattiest pyjamas, I almost felt like I was on a great date.
While my honest and blunt approach might seem counterintuitive to my goal of meeting new people, forgoing the bullshit spared me from the special hell of forced small talk with someone I had no chemistry with. Now I’d love to say that my honest take on Tinder made UNESCO recognise me as the world’s best swiper and gift me true love. Or at least good sex.
But maybe fairy tales don’t exist in a world where “fuck” is the prefix to a noun. What’s certain is that you sow what you reap, and to get rid of the fuckbois, you have to banish your inner fuckgurl. Who knew telling the truth could lead to fun conversations, dates that don’t end with murder, and smiles that last long past midnight?
Farishte Irani is a writer at Arré.
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