I HAVE been on a dating site for close to eight months now. I signed up after a friend suggested that it was perhaps the best means of finding movie buffs for the million and one movies I aspire to see every week. The idea seemed innocuous at the time, but I still went ahead, unaware of the horrors I was to chance upon. Stories this colourful must be shared with a wider audience. So here I present the men of online dating.
The Chauvinist. Let me introduce to you the kind who firmly believes that given my age (37) and marital status (single — always have been and would prefer to stay this way), my only purpose in life should be finding a man. His pot belly, balding head and terrible manners notwithstanding, I should be grateful that he considers me worthy of attention. He totally believes that a woman living alone in Delhi is an ‘abla naari’, in desperate need of being rescued. In his self-revered opinion, I can still fulfill the meaning of my life by getting off online dating and bearing my saviour’s children, as my childbearing days are numbered.
The Father Figure. He takes on a paternal role of looking after my best interests, to cover up a controlling behaviour. Mr Practicing-to-be-a-Dad disapproves of my focus on my career (“that’s why you are still single”), my driving skills (“women who drive fast get undue attention”), my dressing sense (“Indian women look graceful covered head to toe”), my hairstyle (“long tresses are the essence of an Indian woman”). Not content with the incessant critique, he judges, in public, my behaviour, my unabashed distaste for conventionalism and my shocking inability to blush.
The ‘Naukar’. They start off trying to impress and never say ‘No’ to anything. If I want to see a film, or need someone to fix my curtains, they contribute with a smile. What they expect in return is no secret, but since I am quite upfront about why I am on the site, I have made peace with the fact that I am not really using them; they want to be used.
The Pseudo-Intellectual. They live in their own universe, oblivious of the unwritten rules of polite conversation, acceptable dress sense and civil society. One chap felt it was his moral duty to explain Plato’s connection to existentialism and wondered whether us meeting on a dating site was part of one big cosmic plan. Another, who came dressed in a suit and a tie with Snoopy on it (I kid you not), was driven to convert my liberal political views to a neofascist ideology, as he felt it was the future of our country.
The Young Ones Looking for Action. My interest age group mentioned in my profile is 30-44. Many younger men make contact, saying they identify with my taste in music and would like to accompany me to a concert. They’re sweet and have no vested interest, apart from the obvious one. These dudes will be attentive, genuinely interested and fun, until they end up sloshed after 20 drinks, and I, like a responsible mother, drive them home safely.
The Psycho. Synonyms include stalker, obsessive, attention- seeking and melodramatic. They’re the ones I never graduate to meeting face-to-face, as on chat they unwittingly expose their dark side. One guy created new profiles every day to start a conversation with me. Another decided the best attention-grabbing technique was to use the text from my profile on to his, and calling it his tribute to me.
Married, Yet on a Prowl. They can be further sub-divided into two categories — ones who camouflage their marital status and ones who flaunt it to connect with ‘likeminded’ women looking for excitement outside marriage. These are the genuinely dangerous ones who take adultery to a new level, capitalising on the anonymity provided by the Internet. My two cents: beat the crap out of them.
Anonymous is 37. She works with an insurance company in Gurgaon