Since my first column went live last week, I’ve fielded concerned, curious and, happily, empathetic responses from friends and strangers alike. A few called me “brave for “daring” to reveal that I was on dating apps. Others suggested I write from “someone else’s perspective” so that I can be conveniently anonymous. Some “better” dating app suggestions even came my way.
You might have already gleaned the subtext but here’s what I heard: Are you nuts? Who talks about these things openly? Certainly not a 46-year-old notoriously private woman from south Bombay.
But she does. So happily. Not least because of the inherent power in not giving a f&*# (as reiterated by that vermilion book currently on every book shelf). Also, as most women will tell you, embarrassment is an emotion of the 20s and 30s. The 40s know better than to care. Plus, if so many of us have been there, done that—and continue to do so—there is no need for the fig leaf of anonymity or blushes of exposure.
So here’s what I might talk about when I talk about dating, and I cannot put this better than mindfulness expert Jonathan Foust who echoes my present state of being during his wonderful podcast. He laughingly notes during an episode on ‘managing difficult relationships’: “Personal humiliation in the name of spiritual awakening is one of my specialties.” His lighter tone while saying this belies a larger truth: Drawing from one’s own experiences makes wisdom on anything—including relationships—less theoretical, more real.
You don’t need to be a spiritual guru or cult leader to appreciate the importance of making yourself relatable. In my case, for instance, I don’t know how to write on relationships without accessing my own perspective on them.
After all, the inherent dishonesty of obfuscation aside, the purpose of starting this column is negated by worrying about whether it makes me seem less (or more) cool.
The catharsis from sharing is immense. A friend laughingly suggested I could potentially draw into my inner Carrie Bradshaw and send oblique messages to love interests past, present and future. No. I will not be doing that. Not because I can’t do it with elegance—and I can (I am that good!). But because while it may appear cathartic in the moment, there is a blatant toxicity in anonymous shaming. Sharing without the snark—in words written or spoken—can stop an unholy war of Chinese whispers.
No one wants unnecessary drama. Not even teens do anymore. The world is imploding, shapeshifting and disturbing in itself. Romantic relationships should not manifest that negative energy. The only way to avoid that is to share with care. Use your words, boy-who-thinks-girl-can-read-his-mind-but-she-can’t!
Think of it as an expanded circle of confidants—in my case, that includes everyone reading this piece. Once you stop worrying about how people are reacting, the shackles break and it becomes easy to communicate the prickly without cringing. Try it. It’s marvelous. There is an inherent comfort in expressing joy and misery, knowing that people are listening.
(Also, it is the age of sharing economies, or haven’t you heard?)
Are you new to the dating world? Or have you been there and done that? How do you manage the upheavals, the highs and the lows? We’d love to hear at firstname.lastname@example.org. Do join the conversation.