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How India's youth are dating

Updated on: 13 February,2009 07:39 AM IST  | 
Bhairavi Jhaveri |

Everyone is looking for a hot date, 24 hours to Valentine's Day. Finding one means grappling with a lot of baggage. Bhairavi Jhaveri finds out how India's young go about finding a match, and why they'd rather chill than commit

How India's youth are dating

Everyone is looking for a hot date, 24 hours to Valentine's Day. Finding one means grappling with a lot of baggage. Bhairavi Jhaveri finds out how India's young go about finding a match, and why they'd rather chill than commit

"First dates are like job interviews with cocktails," miffs Carrie Bradshaw in the hit TV series, Sex and the City.

A date is a casual distraction

On a poll carried by us on social networking site, Facebook, 69% of respondents admitted to dating only for "casual distractions" or simply to network. Only a fearless few admitted to seeking a long-term partner. Even members on matrimonial websites are not in a hurry today, an undercover activity proved. They don't always intend to get hitched with candidates they shortlist; they could be seeking a "date", someone they can hang out with, and see where that goes.

Too much choice, hardly any pressure

"It's just that we have more options today," says Anubhav Pal, writer of Chaos Theory, a recent play that captured the story of a couple from the 70s, who were in love while in college, but incapable of admitting it until 30 years later. Pal says the innocence is lost thanks to the liberal society we live in. Earlier, a simple meeting at a tea stall, would merit goosebumps. Now, there are more desires and needs. Notions of absolute love are uncommon, he says. "The advantage now, is that you can hold out till you are absolutely sure. Nobody's pressurising you."

Dekhte hain, youth says

As the why-do-you-want-to-date question remains loose-ended, so does the purpose of an entire relationship.

Ameeta Sanghavi Shah, a relationship expert based in Mumbai, says the confusion stems from the existence of more than one idea. "Unlike earlier, a relationship today doesn't have to always end in marriage. It is not pre-decided. Some prefer exclusivity, others keep it casual and open."

The youngster today, is much more individualistic, unafraid to voice demands, and seeks a personal-professional balance. They are turning into perfectionists. Most want their partners to be high-achievers, but refuse tou00a0 compromise on leisure time spent together. "They demand personal space, but don't want to be deprived of romantic attention either," says Shah, 40% of whose clientele includes singles ridden with relationship issues.

The change in the terminology of a relationship, is the biggest change in the dating scenario. Let's see how it goes, is what the youth are telling each other. Commitments are better kept at bay.

What rules?

There are fewer inhibitions, which is a darn good thing because hypocrisy doesn't stand a chance, says author Rupa Gulab whose chick-lit book, Girl Alone's protagonist is a single, independent working girl in urban India.

Relationships are short-term, with couples getting into an understanding; they make their own rules. There may not be long-term commitment, and they are involved to a point where both are comfortable.

Not much chivalry, but men pay for women 90% of the time

But restaurant owners and nightclub managers assure you that courting among new couples, isn't all that rare.

"Older couples (26+) who have just started dating, prefer to dine in privacy. They often request tracks, pre-order wine bottles, and even come and check in on the table they prefer to reserve, in advance," says Andy Chandani, Proprietor of Bandra-based restaurants Tangy Tamarind and Banana Bar.

After-work unwinding often involves a drink or two. Sixty percent of our Facebook poll respondents aged 19 to 30, said they would drink on their first date, even if it were with a stranger. "Women don't slam down men for approaching them at a bar, anymore," says Pankil Shah, Manager of Woodside Inn restobar at Colaba, who has observed strangers lodge into conversation while waiting for
their drinks.u00a0

What's interesting though, was that event manager at Poison and Bling nightclubs, Vikram Mehta says men are still the ones footing the bill. "Ninety per cent of the time, the men pay. But chivalry's pretty much dead. I don't see them holding doors, pulling out chairs for women, at all," Vikram shares.

Youth disillusioned with long-term commitments

At 19, Ruchita Tahiliani, a BMM student from Mumbai and an instructor for a dance company, doesn't have time for a relationship. Innocent love has been drowned out by competitive goals. Ruchita says she'd rather use her energy to focus on her dance career and college assignments, than invest in love. "You just don't get to live the way you want to, unless you are single. You become answerable," she says in defence.

Among the working lot, the fling-cum-casual-sex-and-dating bug is catching on rapidly. If you look around, most peers are disillusioned by long-term relationships and everybody is ordering "fast food", as 26 year-old media professional, Ankit V puts it. Instant gratification is what most are seeking in order to de-stress. "With casual flings, there are fewer or no questions asked the next morning. That's what my peers tell me," says Ankit, one of the few in his gang of 10 to be involved in a serious relationship.

Where do the single in the city, mingle?

If relationships today, are bastardised by commitment issues and a lack of time, singletons are in quandary over where to meet new and interesting people. "The bar would be an ideal place. But, unfortunately, women are not all that approachable in Mumbai," thinks 24 year-old Namit Bhatia. The risk of rejection is way too high for men to try their luck with girls they don't know.

Speed Dating should merge with social networking sites

A 24 year-old who has organised speed dating events in the UK (for Indians), says such events must tie up with networking sites. Since "screening" is not a fair method to deploy for a dating event, it becomes easier to derive information through social profiles. The photos help figure out the crowd you can expect. "Organisers should invite a different set of people each time, based on definitive criteria. For instance, a speed dating event for all single Bandra-ites is a good idea."

Mumbai's youth are dialing a f***-buddy

First coined by the makers of hit TV show Sex & the City, where an entire episode saw protagonist Carrie Bradshaw indulge in sex with a friend, followed by a regular fun, no-strings-attached dinner (or lunch), the f*** buddy has most definitely walked down from the bridges of New York into bustling Mumbai.

Men and women, who are friends, have realised they are not ashamed to admit to their physical desires, more so to a "friend", who they already share a comfort level with. A 25 year-old assistant film director from Matunga (who prefers to remain anonymous) says he takes to a f*** buddy because he can't wait for the love of his life. In such an arrangement, nobody gets hurt and there are no expectations. Plus, the friendship isn't ruined, because women have similar needs, he says.

Are you dating the right person?

It depends on whether you are an Explorer, Builder, Negotiator or Director

Anthropologist Helen Fisher has helped e-dating website, set up their personality questionnaire that pre-determines the kind of person you should be dating as per your personality traits and chemicals in the body. Fisher developed a theory that says, human beings fall into 4 categories: Negotiators, Directors, Explorers and Builders; Plato came up with his own 4 types (Artisans, Guardians, Idealists and Rational), and then Aristotle, and Galen did in 2nd century AD, and were followed by Carl Jung. We've known about these types for hundreds of years, but what Fisher has done is add the biological component to
the study.

Here's what Fisher says

are powered by oestrogen, are intuitive, socially skilled, imaginative and sympathetic.
Testosterone-fuelled Directors are focused, ambitious, daring and
Explorers are dopamine-driven risk-takers who are spontaneous, curious
and adaptable.
Solid Builders have a lot of serotonin that makes them calm, sociable, conscientious and domestically oriented.
Who will be attracted to whom?
Builders will go for Builders, Explorers will go for Explorers, but Directors are attracted to Negotiators and vice versa. Builders won't tolerate other types; they are both, traditional and managerial these are the 50-year marriages. Negotiators and Directors go for each other because they need each other's skills. The indecisive needs the decisive. The tough-minded needs the tenderhearted.

How to get along with each type
You want to get along with a Director? Ask him what he thinks. You want to get along with an Explorer? Ask him what he does. You want to get along with a Builder? Ask him who he knows. And you want to get along with a Negotiator? Ask him how he feels.

When Fisher did a word study of 1,78,000 people on, she found the top words the four types use. For the Explorer, it's adventure. For the Builder, it's family. For the Director, it's intelligence. The top word for the Negotiator is passion.

The Mid Day dating survey

Where are you most likely to meet a date?
A bar/club/discou00a0 20%
b. At work 5%
c. A friend's house party 75%

How long do you wait after the first date, before asking someone on a second one?
3 days 41%
b. week 59%
c. month 0%

How often have you approached somebody at a bar?
A few times 45%
b. Never tried it 52%
Pretty often 10%

What would you consider before giving out your number to a stranger?
What he/she's dressed like (attire) 4%
b. The company he/she is withu00a0 41%
The way he/she talks 55%

Why do you on go on dates?
To find a life partner 24%
b. To network and make new friends 48%
c. For casual distractions 21%
d. To get laid 7%

What do you classify as a good date?
When you can be yourself 55%
b. When you've had a fascinating conversation with him/her; serious mental stimulation 31%
c. When you land the opportunity for flirtatious fun 14%

How many dates do you think it takes, before a relationship kickstarts?
Two 14%
b. Five 21%
c. Constant dating for a month 65%

When was the last time you went on a date?
Last weekend 34%
Last month 31%
c. Last year 27%
Is getting drunk with a stranger called a date? 8%

When was the last time you met someone remotely interesting?
Last month 45%
b. Last weekend 31%
Last year 10%
Can't remember 14%

Do you need to surprise your date with gifts?
Yesu00a0 17%u00a0
b. No 83%

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