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Why lightheartedness is a prerequisite for romance

Starting conversations and first dates with the expectation of a return on investment will only add pressure at the cost of the pleasure of dating

Change the narrative from “can I marry this person?” to “do I look forward to our conversations?”
Change the narrative from “can I marry this person?” to “do I look forward to our conversations?” (Photo by Ajay Donga from Pexels)

My single clients often ask me why the process of finding love and seeking romance leaves them so disappointed.

The classic journey of a single person finding a partner starts with introductions by friends or and family, or via dating or matrimonial apps. Every interaction after the first one is a potential point of failure. It starts with online banter. If that goes well, the interaction leads to phone conversations. Assuming there’s mutual interest, an in-person meeting follows, also known as ‘the first date’. Based on information from my clients, only 20% of first dates progress to a second. Doesn’t that seem low for all the effort?

Here are some of the reasons why  things didn’t move forward, at different stages, for some of my clients:

Online banter: S checked out the LinkedIn profile of V who she was having a very exciting online chat with. When she saw that he had been in the same organisation for the last six years, she deemed him unambitious since, in her mind, most tech professionals jump jobs every two years on an average. She ghosted him after that. Another client of mine stopped chatting with a guy she was connecting well with because she couldn’t find him on any social media platforms except LinkedIn, where he apparently had a very brief profile. She believes that he either leads a very uninteresting life or has something to hide.

Phone call: R concluded that N did not sound as intelligent on the call as she did when they were chatting online. She did not engage in conversations about the environment and EV’s – something they had connected over when chatting online. He even felt that she might not be as athletic as she looks in her photos, which is an important aspect for him. R says he managed to figure out both these things from the tone of her voice – in just one phone call. That N might have been tired or even shy did not occur to him at all.

First date: D was enjoying the evening with M and was sure that she would go out with him again. What put her off was that he asked the restaurant for a discount on their bill, a privilege offered by his Zomato Gold membership. K had a similar experience of having a fantastic first date. They were bonding very well over experimental gin cocktails. However, when her date booked an Uber, her enthusiasm deflated. She expects that the men she dates should have their own car. Then there is G, who didn’t want to go on another date with T as a sneak peek into her phone revealed that she had too many beauty apps on the home screen. He found that a bit vain.

When there is access and exposure to too much information, one runs the risk of over-analysis. Feeding this pattern, people also share minute details of their lives freely on social media. In a matter of minutes we can find peoples’ social handles and form instant judgments about who they are.

Further, most singles start the interaction with the most serious question upfront – does this person have potential to be my partner? This anxiety prevents them from keeping the first few interactions light-hearted. Front loading such pressure either leads to finding a reason to reject or get rejected, since it can easily be misinterpreted as being desperate.

There are several benefits of keeping things light-hearted, the main one being that your light-heartedness makes you attractive. Who wouldn’t be attracted to someone who is cheerful and has an optimistic view of life? The other benefit is that you are not quick to judge people. That means you give them, and by extension yourself, a fair chance to really see each other for who you are. This leads to you making the right decisions.

Aditya met his wife-to-be, Zara at their local grocery store. He remembers their first interaction quite vividly, they were both checking out granola bars. They bought different brands and right there, they exchanged phone numbers to share notes on which brand is the best. Neither of them had come to a grocery store looking for romance. It was their carefree approach that led them on a journey to each other.

K’s flight was re-routed to Chicago due to bad weather. While waiting to collect her hotel vouchers, a fellow passenger struck up a conversation with her. By the time their turn came, he suggested they have dinner together. She agreed. K was pretty sure that they would never see each other again. She was based in India and he was based in England. A year and many long distance calls later, he moved to India and eventually married K.

The common thread between K and her husband, and Aditya and Zara is that they were open to experiences, took things as they came, they were not judgmental and did not hold themselves back. All three of them feel that the way they met was indeed very romantic. Though one can argue that this might seem easier in serendipitous connections like theirs.

When you meet people specifically for dating or matrimony through various platforms, you need to check their digital footprint to establish authenticity. I suggest keeping a tight cross-check of education, profession and marital status. If that comes clear, then go with the flow. Change the narrative from “can I marry this person?” to “do I look forward to our conversations?”. Once the weight of this big question is lifted, things become easier. If you are able to have great conversations and are building a real connection, ask yourself if something like having a Zomato Gold membership and looking for discounts is a deal breaker. If someone is taking an Uber after a date, maybe they are responsible citizens and don’t drive after they drink? Once a connection is established, concentrate on the foundational aspect – aligning your value systems. Then, whether it leads to a committed relationship or not, the process is still light and enjoyable. Try it.

This is a limited series by Simran Mangharam, a dating and relationship coach, who can be reached on



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