Life

Tuesday 22 January 2019

True romance from playing dating games

Today is usually the busiest day of the year on the dating site Tinder, writes recently loved-up Shappi Khorsandi

Comedian Shappi Khorsandi changed her stance on Tinder and finally found love
Comedian Shappi Khorsandi changed her stance on Tinder and finally found love

Shappi Khorsandi

I try not to start sentences with "in my day" because it makes me feel old and I'm from the generation which uses the word "millennial" instead of saying "young people" because that would be an admission that we are now middle-aged.

We are not middle-aged. We can't be, because we went to raves and took pills and marched for LGBTQI+ rights. Of course it was plain old "gay" rights back then (when it was all fields and popper bottles).

If you'd seen LGBTQI+ written anywhere, you might have thought it was Welsh (now I'm fretting that silly "joke" might be racist which is very youthful of me, but then I put "joke" in quotes which is quite old of me).

I don't remember people in my own youth moaning, "Well, that generation X, they've lost the art of conversation haven't they? They barely look up from their books when they are out and about and they're all glued to their ZX81s."

Despite my insistence that I'm no different to a millennial, I am, of course. Everything, as it always does, has changed. Even romance.

Today, January 6, is apparently the busiest day for Tinder, the dating app where you swipe right on someone's photo if you can imagine bonking them (Bonk. How 1990s. I know.)

There was no swiping left and right in my day either. You went out On The Pull. You ditched your mates, snogged a sweaty, blurry person in a dark club or pub and then, when the lights went up, you joined the clamour at the bar barking, "You got a pen? Can I borrow a pen?" at the bar staff.

Phone numbers were scrawled on sweaty forearms. Then came the agony of seeing if they would call. "You coming out?" A friend would ask. "I can't," you'd say. "I'm waiting for 'im to call! It's only been eight days! He still might!"

Ah! Those halcyon days when we would waste our lives staying in for a phone call that may or may not happen. That heart-sinking feeling when it did ring, you leapt to answer but it would be someone else and you wanted to scream "DON'T ENGAGE THE LINE YOU BASTARD" and hang up on your gran.

None of that nonsense now of course. You can pull in your pyjamas with no make-up on, stuffing pasta in your gob.

Online dating never seemed as human to me, though. When you look at a picture, you look for reasons not to date the person. A crooked smile could cost you the potential love of your life or the best sex you will ever have. Face to face, especially with booze, people grow on us. Whatever they might look like.

I was shocked at how many women asked for tall blokes only online. That, bizarrely, is not considered as outrageous as a man specifying "no fatties".

I have always ping-ponged from relationship to relationship, thinking I preferred being in a couple. But, a year or two ago, after a particularly complicated and painful roller-coaster relationship, I finally embraced the glory of being wilfully single. What a liberating time it was. I learnt to appreciate the freedom and how downright healing it can be. I'd had no respite from emotional entanglement for years and it was wonderful, like a gigantic present I'd given to myself.

It's easy to fall in and out of love in my industry. I have been a comedian for 20 years and it's a profession of late nights and booze and hanging out with people who are enormous fun, if a little socially awkward. I finally realised that by constantly dating comedians, I was confusing love with a mutual understanding of a lifestyle in which baths on a Monday afternoon were a norm.

In the spirit of idle gossip, I'll tell you that the last comic I went out with talked about me in his routine. Like all idiots, I can dish it out, but I can't take it.

Friends reassured me, "He doesn't say your name, he just mentions that you're Iranian, a comedian and have big black eyes." Well. People were hardly going to think it was the stand-up Omid Djalili. The experience strengthened my resolve to remain single.

Then, a blissful year later, I was in a coffee shop and someone opened a toilet door Terminator style. It hit my head, knocked me out. When I left hospital later that day, I got on the bus, felt very sorry for myself and joined Tinder.

I got chatting to a guy who, in his messages, made me laugh. So we met for a coffee. He was six feet tall, spoke fluent French, sang, played the guitar, and was a trained lawyer. He did not mention any of these things in his Tinder profile or in any of his messages. He was just funny. Funny goes a long way when you've had minor bruising to the brain.

So, I have changed my stance on Tinder and all this swiping malarkey. It's no less romantic than falling drunk on someone in a nightclub or grabbing the last unattached person during the slow dance.

Best of all, the fact that I have fallen in love with a man I met on Tinder, makes me an actual millennial.

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