In India, being single in your 30s and 40s is difficult. Whether it’s trying to find someone in roughly the same age range, relating to them, dealing with ghosts and often not being able to establish a clarity of intent – whether one wants to be in a serious relationship or not – the whole process is difficult. The experience leaves people discouraged and sometimes also with a corroded self-esteem.
R, a 38-year-old client based in Bangalore is single – she has been looking for a partner for six years. Apart from the introductions she receives from her friends and family, R also uses dating and marriage apps. Eight months ago, she had her own “Tinder Swindler” experience; The Tinder scammeris a British true crime documentary film released on Netflix in February and tells the story of Israeli con man Simon Leviev (born Shimon Hayut) who used the dating app Tinder to connect with individuals he then emotionally manipulated to financially support his lavish lifestyle.
R had connected with a charming and professional man from Mumbai on a dating app. The man – let’s call him V – claimed to be the head of the Southeast Asia business of his company’s business. R verified this claim with a quick search on LinkedIn. V seemed to be on the road a lot. They spoke to each other every day but R was always waiting to meet him. During one of V’s so-called work trips, he told her he was having trouble with his bank accounts. He asked R to transfer four lakh rupees to an international payment card. R agreed to lend him this money, which V told him he would return in a week.
Their calls continued daily as they had, and R suspected nothing. Four days after starting this first loan, V applied for an additional loan of two lakh rupees. R also transferred this amount, while they were still online – it was only a few clicks after all.
Ten days after she lent him the two installments of money, R broached the subject and asked V when he intended to repay her. He apologized profusely for the delay and promised to transfer the amount as soon as they hung up on that call.
It was the last conversation they had. R logged into her account five times that night. No transfer was made to his account. In her heart, she knew where this was headed. This was confirmed the next day when there was no money transfer and no usual call from V. R tried his number, and it was turned off.
In the past four years, this was the fifth such unpleasant dating experience for R. The other four were emotionally draining, like the married man who said he was about to get a divorce, which no ever happened or the young man she dated who eventually told her that her family would never accept their four-year age difference.
But this last experience with V was the worst of all because it also affected her financially. The part she’s still trying to come to terms with is that she had become so desperate to be in a relationship that she allowed herself to be taken advantage of in this way. A successful professional and self-proclaimed woman of the world, R was blinded by her vulnerability.
She is not alone however, women and men in this age range tend to have experiences that discourage them in their search for a romantic partner. Still, R and most singles don’t give up.
Ashwini is an acquaintance who happens to be my Facebook friend. A week ago, she shared a deeply personal note about her journey as a single woman trying to find love and companionship. Here’s a relevant quote from his post “I have everything. To top it all off, I even have happiness. I thought it would be easy enough to give up that last pebble I wish I had in my jar. That pebble evasive called a relationship. Turns out it’s pretty damn hard. At 44, I can say with some confidence that I’ve loved and lost many times. And I agree with the bard when he says that it’s better that way than never having loved at all. Because we all know how wonderful it is to love and to be loved, and as an experience it is probably the most precious of all. life. Knowing how beautiful it is and now how elusive it is, I’ve learned to live without it. But that never stopped Hope from sticking her head out every once in a while. Recently though , I made a promise to give up even hope.And that is by far the most difficult challenge.
Moved by her message, I immediately called Ashwini. In the past five years she has dated men who ghosted her, had a relationship with her on the rebound and some misled her saying they want to be in a committed relationship but ended up having retreated.
As our conversation drew to a close, I asked Ashwini, if someone should introduce her to a man now, if she would be willing to meet him. His answer was a solid yes.
R and Ashwini think the effort to find love is more like an emotional roller coaster. Ups and downs are inevitable. So what keeps them going despite their willingness to quit? It’s the age-old need for love and companionship, they both say. It’s wonderful to love and be loved, Ashwini noted, and as an experience, being loved is probably life’s most precious experience.
That being said, you also have to be vigilant, especially in the first few days of getting to know someone. If you connect with someone on a dating app, I recommend that you insist on meeting that person in real life as soon as possible. What has worked well for my clients is to purge a conversation with someone on the third day, as exciting as that sounds, if the person is not willing to meet in person. The issue of meeting married people on apps is also a common concern, the approach that works here is to always choose a time to connect or meet that is generally considered family time – eg afternoons or weekend evenings. If the person in question reschedules repeatedly, you will be able to see the trend for yourself.
Keep all financial dealings out of the equation until things have gotten serious enough that you’ve met each other’s families and circle of friends. The important thing is to control yourself when you connect with someone who seems perfect, and not give it your all – emotionally and financially – until they have proven and established their reliability, whether by being present for an extended period of time or by not making unreasonable demands of you. Once you are armed with such checks and measures, you will feel more confident in the decisions you make and look forward to continuing your search for the right person for you.
This is a limited series by Simran Mangaram, a dating and relationship coach, who can be contacted at [email protected]