Dating in the millennial era: Love vs hookups

Shambhavi Dutta
tinder, bumble, hinge, okcupid, dating in 2020, dating apps online, online dating experience, valentine's day, how to get a date, indian express

The idea of love being a click away sounds enticing but is it too good to be true? (Photo: Thinkstock Images)

We are in an age where we seek love through apps. When an algorithm tells us if we should meet a person and where hookups for sex are instant but love and commitment are hard to come by. "If you are really keen on love, join a dating app or you will never meet anyone," remarked my friend as we sipped coffee post-work. Swiftly, taking my phone and installing numerous dating apps, we brainstormed on questions like 'what is your biggest pet peeve?' alongside picking pictures that were likely to get me right-swiped immediately. As I put up my recent photo, it felt absurd that technology could help me find romance. I wondered if my Spotify playlist would somehow up my chances of finding a match who enjoys Drake as much as I do.

Soon, feeling validated with four matches and tons of options, I went on a swiping spree. The next thing I know, I am talking to a guy whose playlist matches mine, who regularly goes to the gym and is just 11 km away. "Hey, you are pretty!" pops up on my screen as I awkwardly type thank you. Soon, we are sharing memes and playlists and the conversation ends with him asking me for my phone number, which feels like a significant step. Days pass as we chat online and I surprise myself by checking out his social media profiles to understand how my potential partner could be in the real world. That's the downside of online dating, you never know who the person really is. 

Two weeks in, we decide to meet in a quaint little coffee shop. To my horror, the person I matched with did not remotely look like the person I swiped right (should I blame the camera angles?). I frantically sent an SOS to my best friend who came to my rescue in no time. I awkwardly leave, telling myself that I'm not shallow. Sigh, my first stint with online dating turned to be merely a case of horrific catfishing. Scarred by the experience, I almost made up my mind that online dating was not meant for me, till a friend joked, "that fire on Tinder's logo is nothing but the fire of lust." So I was talked into using another dating app.

With little excitement, I joined Bumble. Here, the dating game changes and it's the girls who have to initiate a conversation. That's when I realised the amount of tension and nervousness that goes into approaching someone. I texted a boring 'hi' (forgive me, for I don't know how to slide into DMs with quirky pickup lines). My screen lit up with a question that had me interested. After talking for a few days, my next potential partner invited me to his house-warming party.

Reluctant at first, I glammed up and went anyway. As we sipped on wine, standing in a corner away from the crowd, I knew I had made the right decision. As dreamy as it sounds, at that moment, this labour-intensive way to forming relationships seemed to make sense. But as the music faded and my potential match moved in closer, I backed away. Dating apps may hold out the promise of finding that perfect someone, but something as simple as intimacy is not easy to conjure up despite the sweeping conversations.

An awkward silence later, he said, "I thought this is what you wanted." To my utter surprise, I replied, "No, I am looking for a lot more than this." And with my heroic statement, I bid my not-so potential partner goodbye. Days pass and after a radio silence, I texted asking if everything was fine, to which he responded, "I am just looking to hookup. That is not your cup of tea and so I stopped messaging."

Bam! My millennial love story came crumbling down with a breakup that was oh-so silent. Put simply, it fizzled out. You’ve basically broken off sans fuss, no muss and no fight. Ironically, the increasing role that social media plays in our relationship and the accessibility offered makes it easier to get in and out of relationships. There's a sense of ambivalence that creeps in—should I stop engaging or keep hoping it might deliver some day? This conundrum has led me and a lot of other people to find a middle path, where you are on the dating app but not actively engaging in it.

As much as the idea of love being a click away sounds enticing, I have just one question. Will these dating apps help me find someone whose idea of love matches mine?