I wonder if it ever strikes urban educated singles that while they are stressed about finding a partner, they are actually missing out on enjoying the only phase of life where emotional and financial independence comes together, without any responsibility of a spouse, children, or parents. As a child you are both emotionally and financially dependent on your parents. Once you are married there is of course, emotional dependence and in cases where one partner does not work, there is financial dependence. Once you have children and enter your 40’s there are others dependent on you – children and parents.
R, 42, has lived by the mantra that marriage is not equal to happiness. Raised in a progressive environment by a single mother, R was always told to marry for the right reasons - that you want to be with that person and not just because it’s the right time to “settle down”. A successful entrepreneur now, R is an experience-junkie, who juggles work and play with ease, from spontaneous travel to going on food trails to bungee jumping in New Zealand. She is fluent in Spanish, French and German and when the pandemic struck, she was in Barcelona. Her plan now is to rent a long-term place anywhere in Europe and work from there. She dates a lot and has been in two committed relationships, but R is not interested in changing her single status.
D, calls it his quirk. He has been maintaining a list since his early 20’s of the nationalities of women he has dated. He is 37 now and has never once travelled out of the country. He thinks the universe conspires to give you what you are seeking and his job as a relocation specialist serves right into this desire of his. D has never been in, nor is seeking a long-term relationship. He wears his ‘Casanova’ status with pride whenever his friends start teasing him. In his words, it’s just his friends being jealous of his lifestyle. I ask him how he handles the situation if the woman falls for him. Apparently, it has happened on a few occasions, he said it’s tough as his intent is never to hurt anybody. But the fact that he is honest from the beginning and states up front that he is not interested in a committed relationship helps. D lets the woman decide whether she wants to continue meeting him and never pushes them. This eases his moral responsibility to a large extent.
It’s not always smooth sailing however. The part society plays in adding to the stress of being single is substantial. The constant pressure to ‘settle down’, from parents and relatives even as there is discrimination against singles in seeking rental homes can make life tough. With all this noise, and possibly an innate desire for companionship, it can indeed seem tough to enjoy this golden phase of life.
My champion in all this, is S. She adopted a baby girl 10 years ago as a single woman when she was 37. For a decade before that she was on every matrimony website and dating app. Two hours every weekday and four hours on the weekends were dedicated to searching for a partner. She really wanted to get married and have a baby. It just wasn’t happening. In desperation she applied as a single woman to adopt. It took her two years and intense visits by the adoption agencies for her to get her 10-month-old daughter. Thankfully, her parents were very supportive throughout the process. The trouble started when her daughter turned two. The neighbors in the Gurgaon community she lived in, started asking questions like “Where is your father?” The nanny was asked if S was a divorcee or a widow. S took a call that this was not the environment she wanted her daughter to grow up in. She moved mountains and managed to get a job in Frankfurt, where she has been living for the last 7 years with her daughter. She has not been on a single date since her daughter arrived. “Do you miss not having a man,” I asked her. She said no. I push her and ask about her physical needs. At 47, she has never had sex. She annually upgrades her gadgets and gizmos from the sex shop, and they lie in her bedside drawer.
These examples make me think it is worth letting go of the stress of being single. There are only upsides to it. You discover your own potential and who you really are when you follow your own heart and mind. Where your decisions are solely made by you and not for you (e.g., by parents) or because of the influence on others (partner/ children). You live your life with fewer regrets. It does not mean that you must remain single forever, but by enjoying your singledom you increase the chances of finding the right person for you. A stress-free positive vibe is extremely attractive. Either way, it’s very likely that you will get what you really want – to get married or stay single, but you will be a lot happier should you choose this path to get there.
This is a limited series by Simran Mangharam, a dating and relationship coach, who can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org