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Dating IRL

Updated on: 17 July,2022 09:25 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Armand Joseph Colaco | smdmail@mid-day.com

Swipe left on dating apps, and return to real life connections with Prem-a-Culture, a ‘conscious dating service’ that organises retreats for singles

Dating IRL

The retreat, which is held near Lonavala, includes sessions on healthy flirting and culminates in a ‘dating’ activity

The advent of online dating apps promised a way to date efficiently, immediately, and with minimal obstruction. However, it missed one key aspect—human connection, think the founders of Prem-a-Culture, a dating service that organises retreats and events for singles in a mindful manner.

Geetika Arora, co-founder of Prem-a-Culture, says the inspiration came from noticing the increased levels of mental health issues the COVID-induced lockdown brought along. “For singles, the loneliness and feeling of being lost in a city became much bigger. We wanted to bring about more real interactions, rather than text-based chats,” says Arora. “Our vision is to encourage a culture of love.” 

What began as a series of online retreats during COVID is now moving offline with Prem-a-culture launching their first residential retreats in September. The two-day long retreat might seem time consuming, but Arora argues that ironically, it’s a “sure shot way of making connections”, rather than spending hours swiping on dating sites. The goal is not to find a partner at the end of a weekend, but to seek clarity about your own goals and help form real human connections. “It’s about aligning with yourself; when you do that, it is easier to find an aligned match,” explains Arora.

The retreats have three kinds of activities, the purposes of which are to ground yourself to your space, and reflect on your past, what shapes your desires and expectations, as well as understanding your own values and what you are truly seeking in a relationship. The retreat also includes sessions on healthy flirting and culminates in a ‘dating’ activity. Following the retreat, Prem-a-Culture offers listening sessions for participants. Arora points out that for many, these retreats are the first time they introspect deeply and this is an opportunity for them to “help process and check-in 
with themselves”. 

Prem-a-Culture also offers non-residential retreats for those who cannot get away for the weekend. The retreats have a no alcohol, no drugs, no sex policy, and applicants are thoroughly vetted—a six to seven-page application form, followed by an interview. The initial retreats are divided by age: From 26 to 33 and 31 to 38, and are currently only for cis-gendered heterosexuals. Priced on a rather prohibitive sliding scale from Rs 21,000 to Rs 31,000 for the residential and R10,500 to R18,00 for the non-residential, Prem-a-Culture also holds free events in the city that are open to all ages 
and identities. 

The company doesn’t see itself as matchmakers, and do not accept requests for those looking for partners from specific communities or economic brackets. What they do offer is an emphasis on human bond and connection; mindful dating over meaningless swiping.

WHAT: Singles’ retreat
WHERE: Near Lonavala 
WHEN: September 16 to 18
TO BOOK: premaculture.space

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