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As a single woman in her 50s looking for a companion, I realize the same level of depth and desire did not extend to my associations with the opposite sex. I have yearned for a partner who was honourable, loving, caring, respectful, communicative, and available.
As I grew older, I thought my ability to withstand pain would reduce. A wiser, older, and more experienced me would be able to handle relationship challenges much better.
However, today I feel that as life takes us through happy and painful moments and as we grow in years our ability to manage emotional pain reduces, we feel more keenly and sharply; having lost the nonchalance that youth offers.
The relationships with family and friends have evolved and grown to a new level of authenticity. One understands their challenges and our the limitations so much better, the introspection, the deep thinking and awareness of their backgrounds.
Their issues and challenges along with an understanding of what we have been through in life lead to more connected and patient relationships.
There is more acceptance and letting go, one learns to focus on self-peace and growth.
A few years back, this quest for a so-called companion led me to dating sites. A revelation for me was how the world has evolved and changed. The women want stability but men, having experienced or having got used to their freedom, are seeming to look for casual no strings associations.
Women are resilient, more conscious and work harder on themselves it seems and men even though lonely seem to find solace in hook-ups while refusing to deal with their emotions.
One relationship that had been on and off for two years, which my therapist later counselled me.
Upon my engaging with her a year and half later, after losing my mind with feelings of guilt and being inconsiderate, it was that I was entangled in a narcissistic relationship. It was a relationship where the man’s basic aim to call me out, gaslight me and blame me when there was no effort being made.
End of relationship one, if two years of trauma could be called that.
Walks in another man equally accomplished, a PhD holder who understands I need a relationship and assures me what we have is unique and destinies.
But disappears after intimacy, upon being asked why he does so he responds with, “I do not know why I did that, unable to understand my own behaviour”, this from a PhD holder in his 50s.
I was of course still naïve, experience teaches and informs but until it does, recognizing red flags is something one does not even know about. All one does is give excuses on their behalf.
We try to be as understanding as possible, thinking that giving and love conquers all, while it may but, the stage of association we are in matters and how much we honour ourselves sets the tone for how others treat us, alas, a lesson I took some time to learn.
A few months later walks in a third gentleman, working at the intersection of for profit and non-profit. A person who seems to share my values, is a little crazy like me, busy as hell or so he says and like a gentleman pick and drops me all the time.
A month into the association I realize he’s too busy to respond to my messages, he says he works late nights, travels extensively and is an insomniac, so we meet in the night at all odd hours only.
Come second month and I ask him if he’s ashamed to be seen in the day with me, and we never have any proper dates after the first one when we met— my requests for couple activities are met with being busy or not possible.
I know nothing about his life, it’s like he lives in a fortress that he guards with a vengeance, I am the woman in his closet, to be dusted and taken out when he seeks distraction. Upon my demand we did meet for lunch in a public place, it was the most ordinary date ever.
Our birthdays fall in the same month, I made all efforts possible to make his special, he did not wish me on mine saying I did not share the birthday date with him.
This time I got the red flag, but, I still did not have the courage to talk openly for fear of losing him, more loss of confidence and self-respect.
And believe me when I say it is, my courage, my self-confidence and so-called hotness that had drawn all these professionally accomplished CXO level men to me.
Imagine then, me changing myself to becoming subservient, caring enough to cook for them in the middle of the night, arranging all I could to please them— to give them joy and some moments of happiness as respite from the so-called boring tiresome days they lived, only to end up feeling deeply hurt and let down.
Again, time to take responsibility for self-actions.
Of course, come month three plus, and I am frustrated and upset, I send him a voice note explicitly articulating what I am looking for and how my needs are not met 10% also, the gentleman disappears and ghosts me.
Two weeks later, he returns with a story on having been hospitalized with COVID.
It has been a super painful, disappointing, and frustrating journey, the search was easier in youth when my parents went out, or we went out and met a partner we grew up with.
At this age the challenges are many and different with men wanting an association of convenience, they have their own scars and are not willing to face their fears and challenges, experience has taught them to be manipulative.
While I hurt and heal and be wiser and stronger, I also pride myself and us women on being so much more courageous, straight forward, and conscious of seeking external help, so we can be our best selves gloriously at any given moment in time.
These experiences have taught me to be more aware and not blindly believe every word that is spoken. My spiritual journey has taught me to focus on what I want with the belief that it has already happened, while letting go of the fear.
It’s taught me to remember that the universe is always conspiring for me and not against.
These men have given me deep clarity and I refuse to let go of hope, yes, the pain I felt is akin to a deep physical wound, yes currently also I feel much is lost, yes I want all to be well again and to be my chirpy, happy, at ease with myself human again.
But, in all this, I recognize that if I had not experienced what I have, I would have possibly missed out on some great moments with these men and becoming the expanded being that I am today.
Penning a list of attributes, I want from a relationship and a potential partner as also what I would like to be like in a relationship has already helped manifest someone with the promise of stability, love, kindness, and deep care, it is now up to me to take full liability yet again for self, recognize the good that has entered my life and nurture it with loving detachment.
In this forward moment, seeking support from a third person who is skilled and compassionate is the best thing I have done for myself, she has been the greatest support, all with reasoning, love and absolute strictness as time demanded.
She has empowered me with the tools and thought process to forge ahead; additionally, my amazing son, loving friends and family continue to give me support even without understanding what has happened to cause these deep spells of sadness and angst.
Life is looking up again and is giving me all that is in my highest good. I am no longer needing a relationship with a man, I want one as a self-sufficient, self-loving, complete human wanting to enjoy and grow into my old age with a companion. And so it is!
Image source: still from the trailer of Jawaani Jaaneman, edited on CanvaPro
Sanjana is an independent consultant for the social sector and CSR space. Her specialization and passion lie in helping non-profits fundraise for their development activities; supporting MSMEs, and large corporates in identifying CSR objectives read more...
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Rajshri Deshpande, who played the fiery protagonist in Trial by Fire along with Abhay Deol speaks of her journey and her social work.
Rajshri Deshpande as the protagonist in ‘Trial by Fire’, the recent Netflix show has received raving reviews along with the show itself for its sensitive portrayal of the Uphaar Cinema Hall fire tragedy, 1997 and its aftermath.
The limited series is based on the book by the same name written by Neelam and Shekhar Krishnamoorthy, who lost both their children in the tragedy. We got an opportunity to interview Rajshri Deshpande who played Neelam Krishnamoorthy, the woman who has been relentlessly crusading in the court for holding the owners responsible for the sheer negligence.
Rajshri Deshpande is more than an actor. She is also a social warrior, the rare celebrity from the film industry who has also gone back to her roots to give to poverty struck farming villages in her native Marathwada, with her NGO Nabhangan Foundation. Of course a chance to speak with her one on one was a must!
“What is a woman’s job, Ramesh? Taking care of parents-in-law, husband, children, home and things at work—all at the same time? She isn’t God or a superhuman."
The arrays of workstations were occupied by people peering into their computer screens. The clicks of keyboard keys were punctuated by the occasional footsteps moving around to brainstorm or collaborate with colleagues in their cubicles. Most employees went about their tasks without looking at the person seated on either side of their workstation. Meenakshi was one of them.
The thirty-one-year-old marketing manager in a leading eCommerce company in India sat straight in her seat, her eyes on the screen, her fingers punching furiously into the keys. She was in a flow and wanted to finish the report while the thoughts and words were coming effortlessly into her mind.
Natu-Natu. The mellifluous ringtone interrupted her thoughts. She frowned at her mobile phone with half a mind to keep it ringing until she noticed the caller’s name on the screen, making her pick up the phone immediately.
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