Sakshama Puri Dhariwal was born in Delhi and brought up in the era of 1990s’ Bollywood music. She has an MBA in marketing from S.P. Jain Institute of Management & Research, Mumbai, and has spent several years as a brand manager in ecommerce, media, and telecom companies. Sakshama lives in San Francisco with her husband and their Netflix subscription. The Wedding Photographer is her first novel.
“I had this guy leave me a voicemail at work so I called him at home and then he e-mailed me to my Blackberry and so I texted to his cell and then he e-mailed me to my home account and the whole thing just got out of control. And I miss the days when you had one phone number and one answering machine and that one answering machine has one cassette tape and that one cassette tape either had a message from a guy or it didn’t. And now you just have to go around checking all these different portals just to get rejected by seven different technologies. It’s exhausting.”
-Mary, He’s Just Not That Into You
Even Drew Barrymore’s quote from this popular romantic comedy seems dated, what with mentions of Blackberry and cassette tapes! But the essence of her complaint is more relevant today than ever, and it makes me wonder if technology has, indeed, taken the romance out of dating. I consider myself fortunate that I dated, courted and married my husband well before the storm of dating apps hit the rest of my generation. One of my single girlfriends recently met a guy through a dating app and even before their first date, she knew more about him than I knew about my husband after a month of dating. Her potential suitor’s Facebook profile mentioned his favourite movies (“I’m going to watch it the night before our date”), his Instagram gave away his love for wheat beer (“now I know what to order while I wait for him”) and his Twitter feed told her which IPL team he supported (“I love RCB, too. Virat Kohli is SO cute!”). Even before meeting him, she had turned herself into a female version of him. Knowledge is power, too much knowledge is a disaster waiting to happen. And happen it did, when the guy showed up and ordered a mimosa (her favourite drink), casually mentioned The Shawshank Redemption (her favourite movie) and launched a lengthy monologue about the inimitable Roger Federer (her favourite sportsperson).
My friend soon realised that two can play the dating game! She didn’t meet the guy again, but she did learn a valuable lesson from this incident. Dating can be as romantic (or unromantic) as you make it. Dating apps today give you options like never before – besides the traditional school, college, work, ‘friend’s cousin’s roommate’ options. These apps are great because they rely on data to ensure a higher probability of compatibility. They give you information, but what you do with that information is totally upto you. Perhaps, like my friend, you prefer to do your due diligence before meeting someone. Or maybe you enjoy the mystery and the spontaneity of actually getting to know the person before you stalk the hell out of them online. Sure, the latter is effective, safe even. But it is not romantic. So maybe the next time you’re matched with someone, just read their profile and nothing else. And then take the time to find out the rest – their favourite food, their least favourite Game of Thrones character, their stand on Tanmay Bhat’s Snapchat video, even their favourite colour. The most romantic thing in the world is to slowly, gradually peel off the layers of another person and see what really lies beneath the surface. And to allow them to do the same.
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