How Covid19 Lockdown Made a Single Man Negotiate Consent Beyond Sex
In this 10-part series, we explore how Indians are embracing digital connections under the Covid19 lockdown in the absence of in-person intimacy. Here, 25-year-old Rajat describes how the pandemic made him reconsider the idea of consent, both in terms of safety and intimacy.
I wasn’t really using dating apps for the last two years. I was very busy with work in Delhi, and you know how there’s this ‘chase’ when you talk to new people? I didn’t really want to do that ‘chase,’ I was more interested in just getting down to whatever we wanted to do. But then, the lockdown started, I went back home to Chandigarh, and there was suddenly a lot of free time. So, April is when I started using a dating app again. And, within just three to four days, I was talking to seven-eight people. But, I started working again in July — and when you’re busy, you have less patience for bullshit — so, I filtered down to four people, from the initial eight. And, I’ve managed to go out with three of them.
You know, when it comes to the point where you’re not getting any action in your life, you tend to be slightly horny. I wanted some action, and that’s when my approach towards going out during the pandemic changed — initially, I was asking people to not go out and socialize — and then, I myself went out, and I met people. I realized that it’s very easy to preach to others, but when it comes to you, you try to take the easy way out, and justify things in your head.
But, of course, safety is important. So, I asked one of these girls if she had been meeting many people under lockdown, and she took it in a very negative way. She called me “insecure.” And, in my head, I hadn’t thought that it might come off as that because I was coming from a place of fucking absolute fear. I agree that meeting any new person is probably wrong, you don’t know which person you meet might have the virus. But, at the same time, in your head, you try to play the safest that you can. I had to tell her, “It’s not like I’m dating you; you’re single, I’m single. It’s not like I’m not meeting anyone at all, but I’m also very paranoid.” It’s about keeping it as private as we can — sure, my “private” can be meeting five people, their “private” can be meeting ten people — but it has to be a reasonable limit. It’s not about exclusivity, it’s about being as safe as possible. I think she understood. Another girl I was talking to, and eventually met, was more understanding of these concerns.
The girl I was with for the longest under this lockdown, I matched with her online, but she turned out to be someone from my school. She had moved to Canada but was back home for the lockdown. Having started from a random conversation, it actually turned out to be something beautiful. And, that’s been one of the highlights of this lockdown for me. It was very meaningful. To be able to find something that makes you happy in these times, matters.
Also, meeting people is different now. The normal things that happen — like you hold someone’s hand, or you touch them, even if it’s inadvertent — aren’t happening. There are new boundaries too. I was talking to another girl online recently, and she told me how she’s an anti-vaxxer, and how she’s against masks. She started telling me that when the vaccine comes to India, she will never take it, and how she doesn’t believe in wearing a mask. Well, I told her very clearly that I didn’t want to take it forward with her. To be very honest, had I met this girl before the pandemic, I would have been like theek hai, yaar, it’s a personal view, but now, it’s no longer a personal view, it’s a fucking dealbreaker, dude!
This project was done in partnership with Tinder India.