Sex And The City: Dealing with Tinder Dilemma

It’s no-brainer that we need sex education, desperately. Young people are naturally curious about sex and sexuality but our society treats sex as a taboo subject, hence what should have been taught in classrooms, is learnt behind doors on small screens or handheld devices. Most Indians follow trial-and-error method when it comes to understanding bodies – be it ours or our partner’s. But today’s generation is not shy of exploring beyond boundaries, and it becomes our duty to help them understand this important aspect of life. From now on, every week we would bring a column on sex and topics related to it wherein our specialist  Aman Rajan Bhonsle would answer our readers’ questions. As sex columns are abundant, Bhonsle would dwell on one topic each week, trying to explain the nuances of the related subject. Bhonsle is a Social Psychologist with a specialisation in Transactional Analysis and REBT. After working for seven years in Singapore, he has joined Heart To Heart Counselling Centre in Mumbai. He is also the co-author of book Sex Education for a Contemporary Youth.

Tinder Dilemma

A friend asked me to go on Tinder and other dating sites as I am 32 and single. Another friend mentioned that those on Tinder etc are desperate, lonely and usually have some psychological issues. Should I be concerned? I would prefer being single rather than have to deal with someone’s psychological challenges. What should I do?

Technology and apps usually enable people to connect with their innermost desires. The convenience and the preponderance of the digital data mined social world and economy is a world rife with opportunity. There’s also the question of ‘fatigue’ that comes from being inundated with so many choices all the time.

Having said that, Tinder is simply a dating app. It’s a platform that could be seen with a more neutral eye. It’s not just the technology but the intent with which it is employed that could have far-reaching consequences. The Tinder app uses GPS to help you locate singles in a radius and location defined by you. The app also uses a matching metric (if both people swipe right – they are able to chat privately with each other). Internet dating has been around since the late 90s so there’s nothing particularly eye-opening about the phenomenon of the internet or tech – bringing the world closer together.

Then again, there is the argument of turning the wonder and natural waiting period associated with meeting someone interesting into a game enabled by an app. Which side of the fence do you sit on? I’ve heard of couples who dub such enterprises are superficial and artificial. But I’d urge you to examine within yourself, what is it really that you want to achieve with ‘dating’.

Are you looking to meet your future life partner or are you merely looking for a fun evening out with a companion? Some people also choose such apps for a quick ‘no strings attached – hook up’ with a willing participant. What is your motive? I have met couples who’ve had rocky relationships after meeting on Tinder and even couples who got married to each other after getting connected over Tinder.

Desperation, loneliness and psychological issues occur in the presence and even in the absence of an app like Tinder. Conflict and pain are an inextricable part of the human condition. Human beings are complex creatures, unreliable at times and vulnerable at others. I am not sure if it is fair for you to judge an app (merely a tech enabler of connecting geographically proximate and interested parties) by profiling the type of people using it. This kind of skewed viewpoint is also inaccurate.

That’s like saying that everyone who sells stuff online is looking to scam you or that real estate listings on the internet always have inflated prices. It’s like saying that everyone holding a knife is a serial killer. What if the person helming a knife is a chef? What if he is a surgeon holding a sharp scalpel? Context changes many things. Generalising people is a limited way to go about interacting with them. Everybody has a story to tell.

Behind dating, app interfaces lie the faces of real people with real needs (unless you’re a robot). Flawed, lonely, ambitious, confused and opportunistic people who are looking for a way to ‘make it in the world’… it takes all kinds to use an app like Tinder.

If you feel like giving Tinder a go, you need to make sure that you do it at your own risk knowing that you could possibly meet strangers with dubious intent. Meeting new people in the real world or through an app would entail the same openness to have to deal with human behaviour.

Whether being single suits you currently or not, I think it would be better for you to assess your personal goals first and what you really want from a relationship rather than worrying too much about what such apps represent.

(Aman R Bhonsle is a qualified Psychosocial Analyst and a Professional Youth Mentor with specialisation in Transactional Analysis and REBT. He is available for consultation at the Heart To Heart Counselling Centre.)

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