‘India has the lowest divorce rate, but the highest absolute numbers of divorce,’ Abhishek Kashyap tells me, talking about why we need a dating app that’s exclusive for ‘have-been marrieds’ – the divorced or widowed.
‘For some reason, I’m surrounded by a lot of people who are separated. I don’t know how this happened, but yeah, it did. So, my friends who had been recently separated or divorced started telling me they were having a tough time. That’s when I decided to go deeper into this, and try to understand divorce in India. I realised there is definitely a market for this.’
In Mumbai, he tells me, working women in their 20s are not open to dating a divorced man. He suspects it’s because the women don’t want to deal with baggage. Many divorced women he spoke to complained that they felt judge for being ‘too easy’ on dating apps because they were separated or divorced. At the same time, he says, men don’t seem to have an issue dating a woman who’s been previously married. But, whether or not that relationship becomes serious boils down to how liberal the man’s family is in such matters. There are all kinds of fish in the pond, it seems.
Kashyap shares that a lot of men don’t want to tell people they are divorced because they feel excluded from the dating pool. Despite the growing divorce rates in our country, the stigma around divorce is still strong. Earlier, we had spoken to Shasvathi Siva who runs a divorce support group. When we asked her what was the biggest challenge people faced when getting a divorce, she, without blinking, said it was lack of family support. ‘It’s a luxury, it’s a privilege, to have parents who support you through a divorce. It’s incredibly sad to see the number of people who come to the support group in tears because they don’t know how to convince their parents.’ Given how strong the stigma against separation and divorce is in our society, it’s no surprise that men – and women – want to hide the part of their lives because they feel judged and ashamed.
‘When you create a community of men and women who’ve had similar experiences, the hope is there will be more empathy,’ he says. Abhishek Kashyap launched Rekindle – a dating app for ‘have-been marrieds’ – to help people find a community that doesn’t judge adults for being divorced or widowed.
The story is slightly different for those who have lost their spouse. ‘The widowed have a lot of love to give. They want to have a partner, and be in love again. The divorced are more cynical. They believe we should not worship love, that there’s a lot more that one needs in order to make a relationship work.’ Some of the users, and people he surveyed during the market research, are single parents. For single parents, he cautions, ‘I think single parents should date only other single parents.’ Nidhi Sharan is a single mom, and she says that she wants a ‘different kind of a sensitivity in her partner’. One of her pet peeves is when her well-wishers try to set her up with the wrong person.
Is Rekindle the answer? Download the app here, and find out for yourself!