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Are you a single woman in India and considering dating again for a long term, meaningful relationship? Here are some things you should know.
When I was a kid, I knew that there were two kinds of marriages – arranged and love. The second option seemed so cool.
You meet someone, you date, get married and live happily ever after.
Unfortunately, I was not aware then that you must date quite a few guys before you find someone you could marry. Dating is a journey and not a destination. And the journey is often not as chronological as fairytales. Real life involves love, break-up, marriage, divorce, dry spell, love again but no proposal, all in no particular order!
Every time we lose the person we thought was the one, we pour ourselves a glass of Vodka, and remember the dialogue from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai: “Hum ek baar jeete hain, ek baar marte hain. Shaadi bhi ek baar hoti hai, pyaar bhi ek baar hi hota hai…”
But being the flawed human beings that we are, we crave connection and make the bold choice to be back in the game with all our baggage.
Much to our surprise, times have changed. Going on dates with someone does not necessarily mean we are dating. There is something called exclusivity and it is not automatic. It is no longer okay to presume that people who are asking us out are actually interested in a relationship. Their interest could range from a variety of factors including boredom, temporary loneliness relief, curiosity, girl-friend being out of town, or an instant hook-up. Terms like ghosting, benching, bread-crumbing are not just urban jargon that we had read about in the The Guardian, but things that men are doing to us!
We would give anything to go back to the good old days when the only challenge in love was parents’ disapproval!
I am aware that not all women necessarily date with a ‘serious prospect’ in mind (no judgement there)! If you are looking to explore and have fun, great! But if you are seriously looking for a long-term companionship, and are frustrated that you have not been able to find one, here are some things you may want to consider:
We may have an image in our mind of the one. But the problem is, where do we find him? All our colleagues may be married or having a girlfriend (though interested nonetheless!). The social circle which was once the centre of our life is now fading with every passing day.
People say things like: Love will find you when you stop looking! If you are happy, you will attract happiness!
I am happy! I have a good life (touchwood), with good family, good job, good friends, ample interests (other than men), a fitness regime, and a passion (writing!!). Being happy is a great start! But it does not mean I am not looking. And looking does not make you desperate.
Yes, I have also heard of people finding love effortlessly in airplanes, the Uber pool, gym and a common friend’s party.
But what if the universe is not conspiring to make you meet anyone?
Use technology to your advantage. Find meetup groups on the internet which could lead you to potentially like-minded people. It could be trekking, storytelling, jazz, or a cause you support. You could create an account on dating apps and matrimonial sites.
Yes, there is a chance of finding creeps. Don’t hesitate to be ruthlessly protective of yourself. Do not exchange numbers or meet in person unless you have a Facebook / Linkedin profile or some common connection to ascertain that is it not a fake profile.
There are some men who will directly tell you that they do not want to get married. Others may say they still love their exes.
If you think you are a very special woman, and will change his mind eventually, you are signing up for heartbreak.
He may ‘act’ like he is your boyfriend and yet deny it. You get into a therapist mode and start analyzing his behavior:
“Why is he still asking me out, if he does not want a relationship?”
“Why would he still spend so much time with me? Must be secretly in love with me!”
Change the questions.
“Why am I still seeing him, when there are no signs of commitment?”
“Why am I wasting my time, knowing this is going nowhere?”
Remember every time you are investing your time and emotions into somebody not worthy of it, you are also keeping yourself from meeting somebody who may actually care about you.
You may think it is obvious that you are the kind of person who would not want time-pass. But it may not be so obvious to the other person.
It does not hurt to tell him upfront that YOU are looking for a long-term, meaningful relationship. Some men may tell you to give it a try, and see how it goes. Others may vanish at this point. It would help you filter out the ones who are only looking for a hook-up.
Assuming they respond honestly, you get to make a conscious choice. It will save you the drama later when they feel they do not owe you any explanations because they did not promise anything.
Social media has confused you more than ever before. He does not plan to meet you but continues to send jokes on WhatsApp. He just ‘loved’ your Facebook status.
You ask him to meet but he is busier than the President of United States. You probe further but he says that he cannot discuss all his work issues with you.
Maybe he is a secret service agent!
Or maybe he is just that not that into you!
He thinks he is being nice by not telling you the truth, and hurting your feelings. If he is making minimum possible investment in you, it is not healthy for you to obsess over him.
You may be dating few months. He texts you all day. There is a sudden loss of interest. Followed by an engagement announcement!
He does not need to spend a lot of time with an arranged marriage alliance.
Acting cool in the beginning, hooking his interest and then taking things forward may work in Western countries, because dating is the only way to find a partner. But sadly in India, men may date for fun, but when it comes to marriage they have a different criteria altogether.
Therefore, always make your intentions clear from the beginning and ask his. If he still lies to you, he is a jerk.
No matter how careful or good you are, meeting the wrong person and losing the right one is part and parcel of the deal. You must kiss quite a few frogs before you find the prince.
The Indian morality may add to the pain of the break-up. People will tell you it was somehow your fault too. Some will judge you for crossing ‘boundaries’ too soon in the relationship (they would not have). Your mother and grandmother’s warning during your teenage years about the bad guy who will ‘fool you and use you’ will come flashing back to haunt you.
Take a deep breath. Ignore. Don’t be hard on yourself. Pick yourself up and move on.
Good decisions come from experience.
And experience comes from bad decisions.