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I don’t remember falling in love with my now-husband on our first date. Nor did I feel some cosmic, high-intensity attraction that made me go weak in the knees. For one, he was different. And when I say different, I mean outside of my peripheral dating pattern / history (we all have one, which is why we almost repeat dating history or seek to experience similarities and compare). We spent almost four hours over four drinks at a dive bar in Bandra on a rainy night. It was smooth. He was charming, warm, intelligent, and refreshingly honest. I could’ve looked back, and said, ‘great guy, but I’m not sure…’

But I didn’t. I was almost curious to see what could happen next. And by date three, I felt the romcom-derived definition of chemistry.

That’s the thing when it comes to love. We don’t know what’s coming ahead. So when I meet educated, confident, go-getting Millenials who have their s*** together, here’s what decapitates their love lives: entitled inflexibility (a term I deem one of my greatest achievements this year).

Long story short: I don’t think either of us pictured ourselves marrying each other three years ago. And if I had resorted to my usual, analytical over thinking, I would’ve probably missed out. For many of my couple friends in happy marriages, I’ve heard a similar trajectory – piqued interest / chance encounter, flirting, a strong friendship, and attraction, followed by a relationship. People who grew on each other, and made the time and effort to give things a real shot.

Don’t get me wrong, unless your date is really unappealing, obnoxious, or unattractive (to you, chemistry is personal), you should go out with them again. Nor am I implying that you need to re-engage with someone where the conversation felt like pulling teeth. But if you have an unrealistic checklist that has cut-offs as stringent as an Ivy League school, let’s hope you don’t fall in love with someone who doesn’t comply, because, oh dear, wouldn’t that be tragic. (Feel free to wonder how many times that actually happens.)

I meet too many people who say they know what they want. And that’s absolutely fine. But it’s unfair to say that you’ve reached ‘there’ – after one date. If we could all make life-changing decisions with one fell swoop, Sirf Coffee wouldn’t be in business today.

Like everything that is sold to us – a well-paying career, a restaurant with a promising Insta feed, a new phone that is slave to our every whim, we do want the best of everything – because dating has much to do with aspiration. A perfect, shiny package where everything is just right and maybe even better – which could do with which B-school they graduated from, where they live, and how much they make.

But what if I told you that all of it doesn’t have to always matter? When you deny yourself a chance to meet someone who doesn’t fit into your pre-conceived stereotype, you deny yourself opportunity. In my formative years, I naively believed love would feel like the burning passion that Robert Downey Jr. felt for Marisa Tomei in Only You. If you asked me today, I’d gun for the humour, emotional dependability and friendship that Cam and Mitchell share in Modern Family. I don’t need to do ‘everything’ with my BFF Spouse (gag), or expect him to fulfil my every need.

Maybe it’s all the social media voyeurism; maybe it’s the decline of real friends in our lives; or maybe it’s because we now make public declarations of once-private relationships for extra attention. But I’m just glad I found someone who also wants to spend our morning reading at opposite ends of the sofa. Who knows that his wife will want that last piece of dark chocolate silently waiting in the fridge. That is love. And it doesn’t need to be experienced in an instance, nor a first date; it needs to be experienced over a lifetime.

Words by Naina Hiranandani

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