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Alaya F on dating in the digital world

The 24-year-old actor speaks to Cosmo about her vision of love, thoughts on online dating, and collaboration with Tinder’s Swipe Ride.

Cosmo: Do you think dating in the digital age has altered our perception of love?

Alaya F: “I have heard a lot of people mention how love and relationships used to be so ‘pure’ back in the day, whereas now, they have turned fickle. I think it is unrealistic to hold love to such high standards. The past has been so romanticised that, sometimes, we forget how informed we are today. I agree that the way we find love has changed, but it’s not that people can’t trust each other any longer. Love is love, and relationships empower that emotion... People have the right to figure out what they want from their relationships, and it should not be rushed. If I ever face issues in my relationship, I Google my worries to see what the Internet has to say. It makes me feel better. So I am all for love during the digital age.”

C: What’s the first thing you notice about a man?

AF: “His looks. However, in the long run, it is not the most important thing for me.”

C: And what qualities do you search for in your ideal partner?

AF: “I am attracted to anyone who is driven and ambitious. Loyalty is also important, but more than that, I value kindness. That is the first thing I notice on a date, how they speak to the staff at a restaurant. It matters to me how someone treats not just me, but also others.”

C: Have you ever used a dating app?

AF: “I remember using Tinder back in 2016, when I was studying in New York—I was new to the city and didn’t know a lot of people. However, I did not use it as a dating app, per se... I used Tinder to meet new people that I wouldn’t have met otherwise. And even though I did not end up dating anyone, I am quite close to some of the people I met through the app.”

C: Are you currently using any dating apps?

AF: “No, because I don’t think it is feasible for me now. When I was in New York, I wasn’t an actor and no-one knew was easier to explore. When I moved back home [Mumbai], I remember I still hadn’t deleted my account on Tinder. But as I had a public Instagram account and I was also an influencer, I started receiving messages from strangers asking me if someone was impersonating me on the dating app. That is when I decided to delete my account.”

C: What makes you Swipe Right on a profile?

AF: “Usually, it is the energy a person emits, but I like profiles that have a fun bio. It should be something creative, but not cheesy. I also do not like chatting virtually—if I vibe with a person, I just ask them to meet me. Back in New York, I used to call my matches to hang out at a bar close to my home, because it felt safe and I knew the bartender.”

C: What is an absolute deal-breaker for you?

AF: “When someone is even remotely sexist or controlling. It drives me crazy when I am being told what I should be doing or how I am supposed to live my life.”

C: What is the best way to get over a heartbreak?

AF: “Just let yourself be—spend time with yourself—I don’t think there is a better way to heal. A holiday with friends always helps, because you can lean on them...but time is the true healer.”

Alaya F

C: Tell us about a piece of relationship advice you swear by.

AF: “I truly believe that the foundation of a healthy relationship is based on communication and respect. Life becomes easier when you communicate effectively. It defines the path you and your partner are going to take when resolving issues. On the other hand, respect is non-negotiable for me. I don’t think anyone can have a loving relationship without mutual respect.”

C: Tell us about your collaboration with Tinder for Swipe Ride.

AF: “Tinder is a wonderful medium through which you can meet people and make dating an easier process—my time in New York is a testament to that. I have always been a big advocate of dating apps. I think they are fun and safe, because you get to decide who you are meeting, and whether you want to date someone or just be friends with them. When Tinder asked me to be a guest on Swipe Ride, I agreed to it instantly. In that episode, Kusha [Kapila] and I shared some hilarious dating situations. It was a fun experience.”

Alaya F

C: What gives you strength?

AF: “I think it’s my belief that everything happens for a reason. In that moment, we don’t understand why we are in that situation, but when we look back, we realise exactly why it happened. This belief and an unwavering wave of delusional positivity keeps me going [laughs]. I always tell myself, there is no option, life will always be good to me. I don’t stress about the future, because I think that the Universe has great plans for me. So I just put in the hard work and let the Universe do its own thing.”

C: Tell us something no-one knows about you.

AF: “I had crippling social anxiety till the third grade, and no-one in my school had ever heard me speak. My teachers helped me overcome my anxiety and slowly, I started making friends. The running joke in my family is that I talk so much now because I am still compensating for all those years when I didn’t speak.”

C: And a common misconception about you is...

AF: “...that I have a large team of people telling me exactly what to say. I do have a wonderful team, but they definitely don’t tell me how to conduct myself or what I can or cannot say.”

C: How has your relationship with social media changed over the years?

AF: “It was chaotic in the beginning because I didn’t care about what I media was irrelevant to me. But I reinvented my image during the lockdown in 2020, and managed to make my profile a natural extension of who I am. From there on, social media became easy for me. It became more about how I was feeling or what I was doing, versus stressing about ‘creating’ content.”