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Online Dating Nightmares

PUBLISHED July 10, 2022

CARACHI:

Long gone are the slow, patient days of old-fashioned romance where you met someone in parks, bazaars, malls, weddings, parties or any other social gathering. Did that even happen or was it just in Bollywood? How do people meet honestly if not through family, school or work? It’s fashionable now to meet someone by swiping them across a screen.

People born in the late 90s and early 2000s, if still single, have probably tried at least a few of the myriad dating apps out there. The most commonly used apps in Pakistan are Tinder and Bumble, although the former is currently banned.

Since love and sexuality are taboo subjects in Pakistan, the society here barely allows conversations around the dating process, especially casual encounters, which is a rather contemporary idea. Given the limited number of places people can meet if they are looking for romance or a casual date, people are turning to the internet to meet someone of the opposite sex. They use these apps out of peer pressure, pure boredom, or, in rare cases, the sincere hope of finding a romantic partner.

Those who haven’t tried online dating can point to the risks involved with this form of courtship, many of which were exposed in the Netflix documentary, The Tinder Swindler. This film tells the story of a scammer who scammed women he met on the dating app, depicting the risks involved in getting known and trusting people behind a screen.

The lessons of The Tinder Swindler are unfortunately not unique, and many people have had some of their most horrific dating experiences on Tinder. Here, young Pakistanis recount their worst Tinder dates, which will make you think about how and if you search for love online.

Fetishes

Like many of his peers, Wasih, 22, joined Tinder out of boredom to “explore and swim in a pool of options” a few months after his breakup. After a few profiles, he matched with a girl who only had one photo of herself dressed normally, while her other photos had her dressed in monster cosplay. Wasih thought the girl was pretty and took up the cosplay outfits as a topic of conversation. “It was playful, I thought she was in the anime or something,” Wasih said. He finally got over his doubts and struck up a conversation with his match. They quickly bonded over their obsession with crime thrillers and anime.

However, it turns out that the cosplay went beyond the surface. After going on a date, the couple were sitting in the car when the girl asked Wasih if she could cut him. “She even had a pocket knife in her bag and a nail clipper,” he said. “It turned out she had a blood fetish. The sight of fresh red blood turned her on. I didn’t even know what it was or how far she wanted to go, but I knew I had to run to save my life. I asked my friend to call me and left the date.

Awkward Movie Dates

Saheefa, 24, had been meeting people outside of these apps for a while. However, her latest experience has made her quite selective of the men she meets since the app. “I went to the movies with this guy who was chewing tobacco the whole movie. We were watching a horror movie and I was more terrified and disgusted by the sound of him chewing than by the movie.” Saheefa rolled her eyes at the memory saying it only gets worse from here. “When he dropped me off at the house, and mind you, still chewing tobacco, he leaned in to try to understand. Awkwardly, I laughed at his boldness, clapped his hand and s ran away from that car so fast!”

Manahil, 23, recently hooked up with a guy she met on Tinder at his house. The two had decided to spend the evening watching a movie, talking and playing games. But as soon as Manahil started getting comfortable, her date got a phone call where all she heard him tell the person on the other end of the line to come. A few minutes later, three of her male friends were in the room and they kept telling her that they were hafiz-e-quran. “They kept talking to each other as I became paranoid about their words and actions,” Manahil said. “Afraid I hastily booked an Uber while thinking of escape plans if they take advantage of me.”

scary stalkers

Bilal, 26, was mindlessly swiping on Tinder when he received a message from a girl he had gone out with the night before. The message read: “I saw you somewhere.” Smiling at the overused pickup line, he flirted back and the couple agreed to meet in the park. Since it was winter and the weather was nice, it looked like it would be a good date.

However, even before the date, Bilal began to sense that something was wrong. The girl told him she lived near the park he had walked through two days before their online correspondence. “She remembered the clothes I wore and the way I did my hair, and to my horror she had made a short video of me walking with my face turned towards the camera,” Bilal said. “I was instantly unmatched and deleted the app.”

Alina, 18, was interning at a media house in the summer of 2019 when she decided to try Tinder to “socialize and see what happens”. She matched this guy who she described as “decent looking, sweet”. He was also studying law, so she decided he didn’t look like a threat. It was Alina’s first time meeting someone on Tinder and even though she was nervous, she decided to meet the match for chai. He lived nearby and offered to pick her up from work.

Shortly after he picked her up, the couple were driving through the streets of DHA when they stopped near a juice bar to get some water. As they waited, Alina said he looked at her fingers and touched the ring she was wearing. At first, she thought the gesture was sweet and offered her hand for him to hold while they drove. After that, things got weird. “As we crossed random streets, he pointed to a house further up the alley where he said he would like to live with me,” Alina said.

She thought it was a joke until she looked at her date’s face and saw that he was serious. He then locked the doors and said he wanted her to stay with him, adding manipulative things about how he couldn’t drop her off at the house because he was afraid that if she left him she would wouldn’t come back. He told Alina that he wanted to give her a ring, and that since he knew all her likes and dislikes, he could make her happy. “During the whole car ride, he desperately told me his intention to marry me,” Alina said. She started screaming and gesturing for people to help her before she finally got out of the car and was able to call a Careem to drive home.

Lessons learned

Although some people have had luck with online dating, it still comes with risks and there are many horror stories. So always ask your dates if they have any weird fetishes, drug addictions, dating friends, stalking tendencies, but above all, always inquire for any preconceived intentions to marry you secretly in one day.