It’s the week of Valentine’s Day.
Urvaksh, a 30-something banker, loves plaid, almond milk lattes and artisanal beer. Like most quintessential gay men that I know, Urvaksh is on the lookout for ‘sweep-me-off-my-feet’ love – the kind that you find in dog-eared romance novels and primetime soaps. But as is the case with quintessential gay men, Urvaksh is also ‘hopelessly’ single. A status that stings more so during this painful week; suddenly, Netflix feels lonely, and bar deals (two for the price of one) seem too taxing to finish.
But Urvaksh isn’t one to give up. He takes ‘finding love’ very seriously – a trait that’s equally heartbreaking and heartwarming in gay men around the country.
To further his cause in finding romance, Urvaksh goes out on a new date every week (while sleeping with thrice the number of people in the same time) – and falls in love every fortnight. It’s a tough life, but he survives (and so does his company-provided credit card). But that’s not where his rat race for romance ends. Urvaksh has premium memberships with Grindr Xtra, Scruff Pro and Tinder Plus, which means that he has paid big bucks to find the elusive ‘Mr Right’.
So can ‘Mr Right’ get here right now?
He should. That’s three times the boys (on Tinder), an infinite supply of blocks (on Grindr) and billboard-style exposure (obviously, on Scruff). This way, an unlimited crew of underwear models, upcoming fashion photographers, Type A consultants and highflying entrepreneurs can spot him before anyone else does. The stats are definitely on his side, but the stars?
Not so much.
‘It’s just not working out,’ Urvaksh tells me over a drink, at a gay shindig in January. He’s Super-Liked boys on Tinder, favourited the nicest profiles on Grindr, Woof’d appropriately at hirsute men on Scruff and even looked around more than once on Hinge (although he feels quite unhinged after his experiences there).
‘How hard is it to find someone you can just have a conversation with?’ he asks me, but doesn’t give me time to respond.
‘… And no, I will not have drinks with someone whose username is ‘CockRings7’. Tell me, why are all the nice boys not online (read: available)?’ He blows off steam (and smoke) in my face. Honestly, who’s to blame, when someone ends his Grindr profile with the classic ‘only 9+ cocks apply’?
Urvaksh does, but I don’t bring it up. Instead, what I do tell him is that all the nice boys are online – they are just complaining about the fact that there are no nice boys online.
‘I think I should just go off dating apps, I really can’t do this anymore,’ Urvaksh tells himself, and I wonder why I am even a part of this conversation.
‘Now can you just be my wingman at this party?’ he pleads, finishing his beer with one large chug.
Uh-oh. That’s why.
The Internet says that dating apps make romance conveniently fast and easy; it’s like fast food – deliciously satisfying, but really, really bad for your health.
But when has the Internet ever been right? Anyone who says that finding love on dating apps is easy has never spent hours trying to figure out what the gorgeous photographer means when he sends you an ill-timed ‘eggplant’ emoji. Does he like aubergine or is he just hot and horny? It’s a mindboggling maze of deciphering smiley faces.
Nope. I’ve spent months chatting up multiple Mr Right Now’s’ in the search for Mr Right – and it’s been as painful to watch as an episode of Splitsvilla (but then again, equally high on drama).
It’s a tale as old as time; fuckboys, douchebags and dimwits aren’t custom-made at a secret Grindr factory, they’ve been around since eternity. So is Grindr (and the motley crew of matchmaking apps it is part of) killing romance in the dead of the night, behind locked phone screens and locked doors?
Let’s get it straight. It’s not.
Technology has been facing the brunt for being the cause of most of our world’s problems – the television stands shamefaced for its contribution to the rise in gun violence, the refrigerator regrets its hand in rising child obesity, the microwave has been getting in the neck for global warming and the steam iron might as well have been the single reason for frayed denims.
“I wish I could meet someone the old-fashioned way,’ Urvaksh sighs, as I light up another cigarette. What’s the old fashioned way?
Strangers wobbling out of a bar together into 17-odd months of regrets, slurred voicemails and alcohol-induced arguments? Being awkwardly set up by friends at a house party just so that they don’t have to listen to your scrambling singledom survival stories over scrambled eggs at brunch? Bumping into someone while waiting in line at a coffee shop just to realise that they like their coffee with milk, weeks later?
If you think your next big love isn’t hidden behind a mesh of profiles on the dating app of your choice, there’s a very big chance he’s not waiting for you at the bar with free drinks (and if he is, there’s a chance he might put it on your tab). Conventional ways of finding love are dying out and for good reason, because we just don’t have the time (or the hope to leave things on chance). Instant gratification is in.
Sure, Grindr can be that dark dreary place that you’ll be in an on-again, off-again relationship with (because on more than one occasion, you’ll be propositioned for a golden shower at 2 am, that’ll make you want to shower multiple times after), but in this Instagram-obsessed world, it helps you reach out to people like never before – with or without filters. Plus, a relationship built on a dating app is no less real than the one forged over mixed-up orders at your neighborhood coffee shop.
Still struggling over why you are single on Valentine’s Day? Maybe it’s time to introspect – could it be something to do with your personality (or lack thereof)? Could it be something to do with the fact that you are seeking out people’s preferences in bed rather than their preferences in life? Or could it be the fact that your profile description says that you are ‘looking for a soul mate to share a life with’ but you go by ‘WildTop4U’?
Maybe, but I feel like my Netflix rom-com is on its way. Now pardon me, while I go swipe left on every boy on Tinder.