A Mumbai Therapist on Slow Dating Online

It was Valentine's Week. She curled up in her bed in that comfortable foetal position, pillow on her head...She didn't want to keep the appointment with her therapist. It would mean racking up the painful past again and then returning to an empty house. Medication, therapy, nothing helped to quell the loneliness...the heartbreak. Her mind kept going back to him.No...she didn't miss him ...she just missed the old her. The carefree, fun-loving girl she was before she met him...the guy whose name no longer comes to her lips or mind....or does it? Maybe she just pushes it back....just like he had pushed her ...into becoming this anxious, pessimistic being who shunned people, who shunned affection from all quarters now ... because he had played with her trust...and with that, she had turned into this doubting being always seeing an ulterior motive in people trying to come close to her...male or female. This is just one of the many cases I get. Yet the case I have narrated is a concoction of many ...which seem so similar and yet unique because each of us is so different, with our psyche, circumstances or culture... Often after a long day of sessions, when I walk home through a park, I sit for a while to gather myself and rewind the cases in my head. And most times than not, I ask myself ...Why is everyone so lonely in this overpopulated, gadget-connected world? Why are genuine human connections so hard to come by? Invariably my clients say...Online dating apps are filled with people looking for one-night stands or sex. The swiping only gets me connected with some guy or girl trying to get over a breakup, stressed at home, married but wanting some fun outside marriage, and all that they wrote about themselves is sheer crap which one realises only once one has met them. So when a friend of mine said he was starting a slowing dating app which would connect emotionally like-minded people with a little help from an official mediator on board, I was intrigued. Now yes, we greet each other maybe twice a year on social media and meet once in a blue moon, this moon having surfaced thrice in the past decade. Yet, I consider him a friend, not because of the frequency or length of our conversations but because I sense something genuine about him, as if in this materialistic, competitive world, he somehow has managed to keep his head and heart in the right place. He is this intelligent, extremely intuitive and sharp guy who is well-read, is a Salsa dancer, has had his brush with spirituality and now came up with this idea of a slow dating app where one could take time to find, then get to know the chosen and take it forward from there. I had a thousand queries for him; what if the client gets attached more to the mediator than the date? What if finding the perfect connection takes ages, and a swiping app seems more convenient? What if things don't work out despite this slow, emotionally charged search? He was patient enough to answer all of the above. But I also realise relationships can never be defined or carved out to be this perfect, break-proof combination. Dating, marriage, live-in, the newly coined situation ship for that matter, requires much investment of time, trust, and genuineness on the part of both the partners to make things work and be able to bare oneself without inhibition or fear with the other. How often do we bare our heart and soul as freely as we might bare our body to our partner? Is that the missing link to a happily ever after? Do our habits, temperaments, and needs change significantly over the years? Is that the reason why long-running marriages seem stale and boring to some? Is the stigma and sometimes the impracticality of a divorce what keeps so many people in a marriage? And yet I have met so many couples happily married for years as if still discovering something new about the other. This app may be an answer to finding someone one can connect with emotionally, socially and intellectually, like how a slow-cooked dish any day beats a pressure-cooked one in taste and texture. Maybe my friend has found the perfect answer to all those who keep asking …where is that soul mate, that one who will wipe my loneliness away without me having to swipe... The therapist