Should a mar­ried man be on Tin­der? And what are the rules of swip­ing right?

Hindustan Times - Brunch - - FRONT PAGE - By San­jay Olivier La­font brunch­let­ters hin­dus­tan­ Fol­low @HTBrunch on Twit­ter The writer is an ac­tor, model, au­thor and a hap­pily mar­ried man

THERE’S SOME­THING about Tin­der that’s al­ways mys­ti­fied me. Not the sin­gle peo­ple sign­ing up, swip­ing, dat­ing – that’s pretty log­i­cal and nat­u­ral, and I look upon it from my con­ju­gal cloud nine with the same cu­rios­ity as ob­serv­ing

a so­cial ex­per­i­ment. From the most ide­al­is­tic of in­ten­tions to the nadir of sleaze, ev­ery­thing that goes into Tin­der in­ter­ac­tions is part of the gamut of hu­man ex­pe­ri­ence, con­densed into an app which ap­par­ently has one paramount pur­pose: to fa­cil­i­tate the

ca­sual hookup. So on that level, fair game. What mys­ti­fies me, how­ever, is mar­ried peo­ple get­ting onto Tin­der.

These are no small or mean­ing­less num­bers. A global sur­vey about a year ago re­vealed that 30 per cent of Tin­der users were mar­ried, and 12 per cent were al­ready in a re­la­tion­ship. If we ap­ply that to the es­ti­mated user base of 50 mil­lion, that’s 15 mil­lion spouses, and an ad­di­tional six mil­lion part­ners. That means, os­ten­si­bly, that for ev­ery 10 con­tacts of­fered, 10 matches made, and 10 racy con­ver­sa­tions en­ter­tained, about ev­ery third one is with a mar­ried per­son.

Then again if you’re on Tin­der, odds are ei­ther you, or the next user, or the user be­fore you, is a mar­ried per­son get­ting on to a hook up. I’m the last per­son to judge, frankly, but I’m just cu­ri­ous about how it all works.

So I cast about me to see if there was any­one I knew in the game. I sur­mised that ‘mar­ried and on Tin­der’ would be a bit hush-hush, so I ex­pected de­nials. I even­tu­ally got a sur­rep­ti­tious con­fes­sion from an ad­man, who agreed to bring a friend and dis­cuss it over a drink, if they re­mained anony­mous.

Varun, let’s call him, is mar­ried to an ad ex­ec­u­tive in an­other agency. His friend, whom he teas­ingly in­tro­duces as Tin­derella, moved back here from New York re­cently, and is mar­ried to an in­vest­ment banker. Both im­me­di­ately as­sert that their mar­riages are fine, Varun a touch more slowly than Tin­derella. For Varun, Tin­der is some­thing he does on the down-low. “It’s an okay mar­riage,” he says. “We’re like business part­ners. She takes care of her business, I take care of mine.” Does he feel guilty? “No, not re­ally. Maybe a bit. But it’s not my fault. The mar­riage is what it is.”

Tin­derella, on the other hand, is gungho about Tin­der. “In New York ev­ery­one’s do­ing it,” she says. “Eve-ry-one.” She sweeps her hand around the bar. “Ev­ery sin­gle per­son here would be on Tin­der. It’s hot.” But does her hus­band know? “He’s on Tin­der too! I think we knew more or less from the be­gin­ning that we wanted an open mar­riage. I mean, we’re to­gether in the long run, but we both want to have fun.”

What is Tin­der like, for her? “I’m pretty clear about what it is and what I want from it. I in­dulge the fan­tasy, that sec­ond life, and then come home to my first life.”

I find the name ‘Tin­derella’ suit­ing her more and more.

Com­ing home, I gave my wife a heads up, loaded Tin­der, and be­gan swip­ing. It was an ad­mit­tedly odd ex­pe­ri­ence to be ‘pick­ing’ women out like this on the ba­sis of their pho­tos. Within the first five min­utes I re­ceived a Su­per Like, which I found out later, is a valued com­mod­ity, since you can only do one Su­per Like a day. Af­ter about half an hour I moved on. I re­alised that the app it­self doesn’t pro­mote su­per­fi­cial­ity – it merely un­der­lines and fa­cil­i­tates the nor­mal su­per­fi­cial­ity of ca­sual hu­man in­ter­ac­tion, wherein we have a nar­row win­dow of time in which to make a par­tic­u­lar im­pres­sion. The in­ter­est­ing thing is that Tin­der, like a lot of In­ter­net tools, over­loads this so­cial mech­a­nism cre­ated by the his­tor­i­cal pa­ram­e­ters of hu­man ex­pe­ri­ence. In hu­man his­tory the only peo­ple we have in­ter­acted with were phys­i­cally present; im­pres­sions were made one to a few peo­ple at a time, and over a span of time. To­day the value of time, of in­for­ma­tion, of hu­man in­ter­ac­tion has been

mas­sively af­fected by In­ter­net tools.

I caught up with an­other mar­ried Tin­der guy over the week­end, Sam the ar­chi­tect, who laughs about it openly. “Oh yeah, of course my wife knows!” he replies. Ev­ery­one we have in com­mon vouches for Sam and his wife be­ing com­pletely into each other. “I just like to swipe and see who matches. It gives you that lit­tle high, that lit­tle feel­ing of sex­i­ness, ‘She thought I was hot…’ I wouldn’t dream of in­ter­act­ing with any­one, though. That’d be weird.” How would he feel if his wife

tried it out? “She did, for all of one day! She got un­com­fort­able when guys started mes­sag­ing her. One guy be­gan propo­si­tion­ing her, said out­right he wanted to do X to her and stuff.” Sam laughs up­roar­i­ously. “She came to me, all dis­tressed, ‘Sammy, look what he said!’ So I got on and mes­saged, ‘Hey buddy, this is her hus­band, stop mes­sag­ing or I’ll do X to your face!’ You know what he wrote back? The peace sign, a smi­ley, and ‘All good, dude’”

All good, dude… Seemed like that was the gen­eral feel­ing about peo­ple on Tin­der, mar­ried or oth­er­wise. By then I had re­ceived sev­eral matches and a cou­ple more Su­per Likes. Mes­sages ranged from ‘Hi’ to ‘Nice pics’, pretty in­nocu­ous stuff con­sid­er­ing Tin­der’s rep­u­ta­tion for con­vey­ing the epis­to­lary nasty. I deleted my ac­count sum­mar­ily, hav­ing dipped my toes, but not want­ing to wade the murky wa­ters of be­ing a Tin­der pretender.

At the end of the day, Tin­der does what any tool does. Like a shovel, a smart­phone, or a com­puter, you can use it to em­power or to un­der­mine your­self. Peo­ple will do what they do. Sure, some guy will send pic­tures of his junk, and some girl will pose with nude bits – but ul­ti­mately it’s demo­cratic enough, for the sin­gle as well as the mar­ried peo­ple. Cin­derella was still her­self, plus or mi­nus one glass slip­per. I dare­say Tin­derella will in­evitably prove to be her­self, mar­ried or not.

A global sur­vey re­veals that 30 per cent of Tin­der users are mar­ried, and 12 per cent are in a re­la­tion­ship


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