Nearly four decades ago, most in my peer group believed that their lives would change for the better once they got married. They thought of it as an escape route from the conservative rules set by their parents. The reasons for wanting to get married might be different now—companionship, social pressure—yet the idea that one’s life will be better after it remains to this day.
Today, most educated urban women and men concentrate on building their careers in their 20s. They are not looking to get settled in a long-term relationship. They work hard, go on dates, spend on travel and acquisitions of things. The narrative changes when they get into their 30s. Having lived an independent life until then, they seek companionship of a committed partner. We all know that this search can be long and arduous. I have written several times about the need to keep re-energising ourselves, and not to get disheartened by the process. But as I dig deeper, I realise that the frustration of not finding someone becomes front and centre for many individuals. Everything else loses its appeal.
A friend of mine, T, is a successful investment banker. Nearly everyone in her peer group has envied her lifestyle at some point—a fancy apartment in Manhattan, wealth, good looks, and more. In her 20s and 30s, T was enjoying the single life. However, a large part of her forties were spent in misery about her single status. All our conversations were about bad dates, men ghosting her, or the ones where things seemed to be going well but the man in question would suddenly call things off without any explanation. T found no joy in any of the thing that she had enjoyed in the past or in exploring new things. No matter how hard we tried to distract her, the gloominess of not being able to find someone never left her.
38-year-old M, a media professional based in Mumbai, too feels that marriage is a way out of the loneliness. All his efforts to find a partner seem to lead him on, then get nowhere. As an observer, I see an articulate, good-looking man, who is sensitive, successful and compassionate. So what is it that M is doing to prevent him from finding a partner?
It's important to understand that both T and M are not so desperate to change their single status that they will settle for just anybody. Where they are going wrong is that in their wish to find a partner, they have stopped working on other aspects of their lives that keep them happy and fulfilled. T did get married at the age 50. But it happened only after she decided to have a good time in life and not wait for a man to come change things for the better for her. She met her husband at a paint night, where she was deeply engrossed in perfecting her version of Van Gogh’s Starry Night.
In my opinion, if you are not having a good time with your own self, how will someone have a good time with you? Your energy has to exude a lightness and positivity that will make you attractive to someone. Also, it’s no secret that getting married does not guarantee a positive change in your life. The other fact to consider is that even when you are married, your positive state of mind is something you have to work on all by yourself. Your partner can be supportive, but you will have to do the hard work. Believe me, I’ve been through many low phases in the fourteen years I’ve been married. My husband is super supportive, yet I had to do the work myself to lift my spirits. Sometime with a help of counselor, or even a friend, and at times by sheer grit to get out of the rut I found myself in. I recommend a mantra that might help get rid of the ‘Fairy Tale’ syndrome – my life as a single person is great and whether I find a partner or not, it will continue to be great. So, do not stop enjoying your life and continue to invest in your own self.
This is a limited series by Simran Mangharam, a dating and relationship coach, who can be reached on email@example.com
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- FIRST PUBLISHED02.12.2023 | 01:00 PM IST