I don’t usually meet my Tinder matches, but Varun’s pictures were HOT.
But what was even hotter was his bio.
Two truths and a lie about me —
1. I have a relevant “Lord of the Rings” quote for any situation possible.
2. I have written two novels (unpublished) and am working on the third.
3. I once dyed my hair purple. Won’t tell you which hair though.
Even if one of the first two were false, it was evident that this man was a reader. And the third proved he had a great sense of humor. There was no way I was not meeting him!
We set up a date two days later and all I could think of during this time was the prospect of meeting a hot man who also happened to be a writer!
The First Date
Fast forward two days, and it was D-day.
I put on a little black dress, nude heels, and red lipstick for our date. I blow-dried my shoulder-length hair and left it open.
I was so excited to meet him, that I arrived at the café a few minutes before the time we had decided, and took my place on a cosy couch with a view of the street below.
When Varun walked in, the first look took my breath away.
He was dressed in a casual denim shirt, open to the second button, giving an enticing look at his well-muscled neck and shoulders. His black hair was messy and stood on the top of his head in random directions. His beard was elegantly styled, bringing out his sharp jawline. His eyes were charcoal-grey and very intense — making him look intelligent as well as incredibly sexy. The smile on his face was subtle, brimming with confidence. This was the smile of a man who knew he was desirable, and he knew it well.
It would be an understatement if I said Varun was hot!
The Instant Turn-Off
I stood for a hug as he walked up to greet me. He smelled great too — a scent reminiscent of freshly fallen pine cones in winter. He sat opposite me and we placed our orders.
Once we were done, he looked up and flashed his dazzling smile. “So, Anangsha Alammyan, huh. Interesting name,” he said.
“I’ve been told that before, yes.”
“At first, I thought you were Muslim.”
“Well no, I am an atheist.”
“But you were born a Hindu, right?”
“Well, that is great. I would never date a Muslim woman.”
This was a little weird, but then again, everyone is entitled to their personal preferences. However, I couldn’t stop myself from asking, “Why?”
He shrugged and crinkled his beautiful eyebrows together. “Uh, nothing,” he said, then, leaned forward and said in a voice that was barely a whisper, “I just think Muslims smell weird. And come on, they eat beef. I could never kiss a Muslim girl, you know.”
This was incredibly racist (religionist?), but I wanted to know more. I put my elbows on the table, steepled my fingers together, and leaned in close, urging him to go on.
“Going on a date is still on another level! I would think twice before befriending a Muslim.”
He laughed as if he had cracked a hilarious joke. I sat staring at him, my mouth open in shock, unable to believe he had just uttered those words.
He didn’t say anything else on the topic, but to me, the spark had fizzled.
After that, everything he said — everything he did reeked of religion-based hate. I couldn’t bring myself to find his jokes amusing anymore.
All that wit, all the good looks amounted to nothing if he was Islamophobic.
I spent the rest of the date politely smiling and concentrating more on my food than on the gorgeous man seated opposite to me. Our conversation did brush a little on Lord of the Rings, but even his Bagginses jokes weren’t enough to lighten my mood.
When the bill arrived, we split it. Then, I stood up and said, “Thank you for the company. I will head home now.”
“Hey, hold on,” he said, standing up. “Let me drop you home. I came here on my bike.”
“That won’t be necessary,” I said, pulling out my phone from my bag. “I will get a cab.”
“But wait, Anangsha, I . . . I thought we were hitting it off?”
“We would have, but you lost me at Muslim girls smelling weird. Please don’t call me again. Bye.”
I walked off, without an ounce of regret.
Yes, Varun was handsome, but irrational hate towards any religion is something I cannot digest — an immediate turn-off, as you would call it.
Attraction vs Compatibility
There’s no denying it — Varun was handsome, almost painfully so, and a lot of our tastes matched. I would have loved to spend more time with him, go on a few dates, and hopefully end up in a relationship.
But, I couldn’t ignore this red flag that became so apparent in the first few minutes of our conversation.
India is a secular country, home to at least nine major religions, and it is common for the inhabitants practicing one to have some form of inhibitions regarding those of another fate. But, it seemed that Varun was someone who downright disliked people of a different religion for no concrete reason, and this was not something I could not digest.
After all, you cannot change the mind of someone who is convinced about something as sensitive as religion (especially in the context of a country like India).
Sure, compatibility of tastes and physical attraction is important in a relationship, but so is emotional and intellectual compatibility.
I like to think of myself as “open-minded” and I couldn’t imagine the frequency with which I’d have had disagreements and heated arguments with someone like Varun.
I’ll be honest: I wanted something to blossom between us, but I was not willing to compromise on my peace of mind for the sake of dating someone I was physically attracted to.
Looking back, I know I could have rationalized, I could have argued. I could have probably cited examples and tried to change his opinion. But, the prospect of it was tiring, and he appeared way too strongly convinced that his opinion was right, for me to even attempt to present an alternative perspective.
As Dale Carnegie pointed out in his book How to Win Friends and Influence People:
I have come to the conclusion that there is only one way under high heaven to get the best of an argument — and that is to avoid it. Avoid it as you would avoid rattlesnakes and earthquakes.