Net Time- Virtually Yours

Most people would like to find their love online these days. They love the sense of adventure, thrill that comes with it. There are millions of options available no doubt. However, the net also has an abundance of scammers who are just waiting to ensnare those besotted with love!

One goes, others come- Bus, Train and Chats!

Sunita, 39 was quite upset. Her online friend had not been talking to her for an entire week now. They had been friends for over two months. He did not answer her calls and just sent a cryptic message saying, ‘will talk later’. One day, her friend Mansi came to meet her. ‘Why are you so upset?’ she asked. Sunita told her the issue. Mansi nonchalantly said, ‘he must have found someone more loaded. After all, its an investment of time!’

Sunita revealed that her online friend had asked her for her photographs which she refused to give. Since then, he had become distant and kept saying that she did not trust him enough. Mansi nodded, ‘yes, he wanted to have a little bit of ‘fun’. When he could not get it from you, he decided to try his luck elsewhere. Remember, in real life or net, when one goes, other comes whether bus or train or even a chat friend.’

Options Galore

Dr. Anamika Papriwal, a psychologist says, ‘When one goes on apps like Tinder or TrulyMadly or Aisle, they are given an impression that there are plenty of options to choose from. It is like being in the biggest supermarket of the world where you have millions of options to choose from. So, you will always keep wondering if there is anything better than the one you currently have or if you don’t get the desired features from that product, you will have no qualms about leaving it and trying for the next best option. As a result, the relationships online are hardly long lasting unless you disconnect from the app once you have found the person you were looking for.’

Need based transactions

When Arunima 41, decided to come to India for two months, she knew she would be lonely without her husband and daughter. She comes here regularly to take care of her business and stays for months at a time. She says, ‘Every time I come here, I start scoring for people who are looking for a casual, no strings attached fling. After all, why should boys have all the fun? I have a family back home and I am not looking for any kind of melodrama or complications or monetary problems. There are many who are looking for the same thing and we get together. Once the two months are over, we bid adieu and promise to never be in touch again. So far this arrangement has worked for me quite well.’

Kaveri Banerjee a psychologist based in Delhi says, ‘Online relationships are nothing but simple transactions that are a matter of convenience for most people. They are mostly need based and not based on emotions or long term. When the need is met, the people go their own separate ways.’

Agrees Govind, 35, ‘I am a single guy who is not looking for long term. When I meet a girl online, I want to meet her immediately so that I can evaluate if we are a good fit. If she delays the meeting or does not want to meet before knowing me and chatting with me, I tell her that I don’t have either the time or the patience for such conversations.’

Honey! I want your money

Vihaan was 50-year-old widower, settled in Chandigarh. His sons and daughters were married and were living in different parts of the country and the world. Vihaan stayed alone in his house with his servants. One of his friends advised him to logon to Tinder, an app for single men and women. Vihaan liked the idea because he could look at prospective matches from the comfort of his house. He chanced upon Aparna, a single mother working in a not-for-profit organization (NGO). She was a 45-year-old divorcee who had a college going son. They instantly hit off and Aparna even introduced Vihaan to her son Nikhil.

They talked for long hours on end on audio and video calls and Aparna told him how she had single-handedly raised Nikhil after her husband walked away with another woman. Vihaan felt he had met a kindred soul in Aparna. He talked to his friends and they advised him to go and meet his dream girl. Aparna readily agreed to the idea. Vihaan had booked his tickets for the following week. Before the day he was to travel to meet her, Vihaan got a call from Aparna at about 1 a.m. She told him that Nikhil had met with a serious accident and was in the ICU. He had lost a lot of blood and the doctors would not operate until she deposited 2 lakh rupees. She said she did not have that kind of cash and asked him to help. Vihaan asked her for her account number and promptly transferred 2 lakh rupees. After about five minutes, he received a ‘thanks’ on WhatsApp from her number. He tried calling but now her number is always switched off.

Sonakshi was a 44-year-old single lady living with her parents in Hyderabad. She was a very successful entrepreneur who had been too busy for marriage during her youth. Now, she felt the need to share her life with someone. Her friends advised her to download a dating app. Soon, she got connected to Raghu, a businessman who was based in New York, USA. Raghu was an issueless divorcee who was looking for his soulmate. He was a great conversationalist and Sonakshi discovered that they could talk for hours on end about every topic in the world. After about two months, Raghu told Sonakshi that he will be coming to meet her. He wanted to marry her and take her back with him. Sonakshi’s joy knew no bounds. Raghu sent her pictures of all the expensive gifts including Apple iPad, diamond jewellery that he had purchased for her. Sonakshi’s friends warned her to be patient and not get blown away by such gestures. But Sonakshi could not wait. She was ready to meet her Prince Charming. On the day that Raghu was supposed to reach Mumbai, Sonakshi got a call on her phone. The man speaking on the other end said that he was calling from the customs department in Mumbai airport. He told her that Raghu has been arrested since he had items worth more than the permissible limit and unless he paid, they will not let him go. Sonakshi asked them to send the details where she could send the payment and the person sent her a link. She was asked to pay 1 lakh, which she immediately paid without even thinking. Then she got a call from the concierge at the hotel where Raghu’s stay was booked. She was told that though Raghu was supposed to make the payment to book the room, his phone was out of reach. So, they asked her to make the payment of 50,000 INR. They sent her the link and she made the payment. After sometime, she got a call from Raghu who told her that the custom’s issue was solved and he wanted a business class ticket from Mumbai to Hyderabad. He asked her to transfer 50,000 INR and said that he will return it as soon as he meets her. Sonakshi transferred the money. She later tried to call Raghu but since that time his phone has been switched off.

Dr. Anamika Papriwal, a psychologist says, ‘I have heard of women talking to men for days and they asking them to pay their children’s fee or give them money for their daily expenditure. Many of these people who pull off such scams have an innate understanding of the human behaviour. They first befriend the person, establish trust with them and then spend time talking to them. Once the person starts trusting them, they start with small transactions which they promptly return to again establish trust. Once that is done, they move in for the kill. In a way, it is an addiction where the person gets addicted to the other person. You can get anything done from an addict who needs his daily dose. That is how this works!’

However, not all is gruesome and gory in the world of online dating. There are stories where people have found true love too.
Thirty-year-old Puja met Nikhil on a dating app. Initially, she thought he was quite arrogant and snobbish. However, when they started chatting, she realized that he and she shared the same dreams and values. Nikhil travelled to Baroda to meet Puja and her family. After a while, Puja too visited Nikhil and his parents in Lucknow. Soon, they were married and are now blessed with a baby boy.
Arjun, a 35-year-old doctor living in Gurgaon had faced rejection from a lot of girls. Online, he met Shruti, an interior designer who was also living in Gurgaon.  Shruti was beautiful but suffering from self-image issues owing to her weight. They connected and realized that they had a lot in common. They got married after dating for two years and are still going strong.

This article was published in Rashtradoot Newspaper’s Arbit on 2 June 2021.

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