Who knew surfing on Facebook could lead you to discover the love of your life? Here's how a 'desperate' move led couples to find their mate without poring over matrimonial classifieds
When you're single, hanging out at a bar and smiling at a girl across the room, could make you look like a creep. When you're at a Footloose party and smile at a girl, she comes up and talks to you," cracks up Varsha Agnihotri Vadhyar, co-founder, footloosenomore.com.
Varsha Agnihotri Vadhyar met her husband Prashant through a Facebook
group she founded in 2009, for singles to meet potential spouses
Vadhyar's brother and founding partner, Abhishek Agnihotri describes the group as 'Facebook for Singles'.
Vadhyar says, "Two years ago, when we were in our 30s, we had everything going for us, except we were single. Fresh off broken relationships, both Abhishek and I were willing to give it time but the wait was longer than we expected," recollects Vadhyar.
"One day, a friend sat us down and told us that we were going to remain single. We had met all the singles we knew and it hadn't worked out. Our married friends weren't helping us get hitched because we were available to them as friends, babysitters, shopping partners and movie buddies. And we weren't meeting any new people. There was simply no scope."
"Our friend was right. We were doomed! We had to do something. So, that night we started a Facebook group. It was open to singles who wanted to meet someone and hopefully marry. We woke up the next morning feeling pretty stupid and desperate. And the truth was, we were," says Vadhyar.
The group gained 200 members in a week. "We had to close the group at that point and review the members. We put a screening process in place. Now, we don't accept anyone under the age of 28. Applicants have to be 'legally single' and not in 'unhappy relationships'. We check the applicant's credibility with the recommending member and in case of a fresh applicant, we call and have a chat with them. If he/she lies, we simply don't accept. Once an applicant has been accepted, they must attend an event within the next three months. If they don't, their membership is cancelled," explains Vadhyar.
The group has 1,420 members now and is in the process of shifting to a website, says Agnihotri. Members are largely in the age group of 28-45 years with a few above 50 years. Most of them have never been married, while a lot of them are divorced and few are single parents. "We are organising our first 'Single Parents Only' event this week. Some Footloose members have volunteered to baby-sit at the child-friendly event, so parents can have a good time," says Vadhyar.
The group has sub-communities based on common interest. So while other dating sites separate members based on caste, creed and preference of complexion, this one would rather have its members bond over music or photography.
"We've recently discovered that many of our members are creative writers, so we're going to have a poetry session," says Vadhyar. She speaks from experience. "Prashant walked into a Footloose party with a friend purely to have a good time and wasn't there to meet someone.
We started chatting and as he is a music composer, I enquired if he was a singer too. He asked if he should sing for me and I declined, pompously declaring I had been sung to, too many times. Eight months later, we were married." As easy as Do Re Me, Vadhyar would say.