We generally expect men to be afraid of commitment, but obviously women can have similar doubts.

We generally expect men to be afraid of commitment and marriage, but obviously women can have similar doubts. Women are generally expected to want marriage. Sex, children, safety from sexual harassment, respect, financial security and lots more is disallowed to most people, but more specially to women, unless they marry.

This was a comment on ‘Love Marriages spoil the Family System of our Nation‘.

Dear IHM,

I have faith in your blog and in the sensible advice readers offer here. To talk a little about my life – I am an unmarried twenty eight year old woman residing with my parents, living a hectic life-I go to office, come back, eat dinner, watch a bit of TV, waste time on comp, read a book, and then sleep for another day. On weekends too, it remains the same (yep even the office going part, mostly 😦 ), except that I laze on Saturdays and Sundays. Now, my parents are pestering me to get married, I am already old by Indian standards.
But the real problem is that I hate/am scared of the very concept of marriage/relationship: Friends around me are getting married, but I am scared of making any commitment yet. I am unable to see the point of it all – devoting your life to one person is such a waste of a good life. One reason could be the complete absence from my life of that entire love thing, whatever that means. And it might also be that I have internalised this hate for relationships/ commitment. I do not know what it is, but I definitely do know that men as objects of lust appear more appealing than as objects of love. I have also started believing that there is no such thing as true love – and that it is just a name for endless compromises that people make in order to remove their loneliness. Moreover, I have grown out to be too self centered to actually think about making sacrifices in a relationship, like my friends do. One point in time I was probably ready to make sacrifices, but not anymore – and as I have realized this is probably a good way to live your life. But somehow, sometimes, I do feel terribly alone. I enjoy this loneliness at times, but for how long? What after my parents pass away? I will be left to fend for myself and by then, my younger brother will have a family of his own. His wife may/may not like a sister-in-law residing with them.One thing I know for sure is I want people around me and not want to be abandoned, though I do enjoy solitude immensely and want my freedom.
As far as the responsibility of a relationship or marriage – I am afraid I will not be able to motivate myself enough to carry it forward. The more the responsibility on me, the less keenly I work nowadays. I generally laugh at people who show too much enthusiasm for life, or their work, or even their relationships.
Also, People bore me after a particular time, which is why when someone gets too close to me, I try stupid things in order to alienate them. I do not want to become best friend to people – burden of relationships or expectations – whether of parents or of society kills me.
I wonder if I can save myself from society and people casting doubts on my character if I choose to remain single. I am also afraid of getting trapped in a stagnant marriage if I choose to marry as most of my friends are but would rather die than admit to it. I am scared of becoming sexually frustrated, being used by a man or becoming a pervert, a mere “f–k buddy” in a live in relationship, if I choose to live life on my own terms.
I am successful career-wise but seem to be heading nowhere as far as my life is concerned.

What should I do?
Please guide me, someone suggested I write here.
Thank you in advance.



85 thoughts on “We generally expect men to be afraid of commitment, but obviously women can have similar doubts.

  1. She seems scared of a lot of things. Why? Don’t want to get married, not an issue. But because one doesn’t think one has it in them? This is not rocket science. One can pretty much do whatever they try hard enough.

    She doesn’t sound like she likes people in general which can be tough on all fronts for her, including the work front. What’s so tough about responsibility? That she’s not really had much practice so far? This whole thing is not as hard as it is made out to be, in my opinion. I would tell her to just jump into whichever choice she makes and then make the most of it….it’s easier to be cynical, tougher to be the enthusiastic person who lives fully in the moment.


  2. Dear IHM,

    Such posts reminds me of “Relationship/Marriage counselling” columns in News papers!! 🙂

    Commitment phobia issues with all singles after 26-27 yrs of age, lack of flexibility/tolerance to accept anyone/situation even little bit different than your pre-assumptions,etc… In broad sense,its all about human Psychology issues!…

    Though , I will read and wait for comments to such posts!…..

    Dr. Single


  3. Dear Ria,

    Before thinking about anything else, I think you need to sit up and ask yourself what you really want from life. You seem to be stuck in a kind of comfort zone which is not really that comfortable. You seem to have made assumptions about yourselves/other people which might or might not be true.
    You need to get some zest into your own life – cultivate a hobby, interest, look beyond your job and look out into the world – more importantly, reach out to people – there are some really wonderful people out there, if you care to look.
    Once you discover yourself, you’ll know what you really want.
    All the best.


  4. Was going through something similar a couple of years back…Its a dilemma which no amount of reassuring will fix..Since you read on a everday basis..try this book
    Though the title is a bit misleading..its about a woman dealing with the same issue,only difference is that she hasnt found The One,so she remains single…It will give you a lot to think about singlehood,responsibility,care-free existence..etc whatever decision you choose..make sure to know how your life could go either ways…


  5. There seems to be some history which the writer has omitted.
    I think good relationships are not a burden. I had this committment phobia too till I met the right man. Right now, life is great with him and two kids.


  6. Move out of your parents house, ASAP. This is why I really recommend people to move out of their parents house when they’re old enough unless you live in a crazy expensive place like Manhattan or Mumbai. Even then, when you’re done with university and have a job then you should move out on your own instead of living with mom and dad.
    I feel like the letter writer finds it hard to function in her social life because she’s never had to step out of her comfort zone. Being in a relationship isn’t about ‘sacrificing’ 24/7–it’s about MUTUAL compromise. I’m 26–I’ve been in three serious relationships in my lifetime (including my fiance to whom I’m getting married in Jan)–none of them were abour constantly making sacrifices.

    “I am scared of becoming sexually frustrated, being used by a man or becoming a pervert, a mere “f–k buddy” in a live in relationship, if I choose to live life on my own terms.”
    First, f-buddies don’t live together because living together isn’t easy. Second, you seem to be scared of life in general. This is exactly what happens when grown up children live with their parents and never have to deal with being in the real world. After moving to India, I’ve met people who’ve had such sheltered lives that they wouldn’t even know how to pay their own cell phone bill, renew their own passport, or even use a washing machine. I recommend therapy (ask about social anxiety disorder) + self sufficience. Everyone gets hurt at some point or the other, it’s ridiculous to shut oneself out like this.


    • Kay, I personally think these adults have parents that are at fault. It’s harsh, but these people come from parents that don’t want their kids to be independent. My own mom had refused to teach me basic life skills when I asked her and told her “How am I going to know how to be on my own if you don’t show me? I want to know”. These parents will purposely dismiss the adult child’s wishes to keep them trapped. As for asking your friends..well, guess what? Sadly, such adults tend to have lousy friends that don’t care either. If your parents want you to stay with them, they also control who you hang out with. They don’t want you to befriend anyone who will encourage you to step out of your independence. This is one of the main reasons why my mom wanted me to hang around with Indians only.


  7. Absolutely second Kay’s opinion – move out of your parents’ house; if moving away in the same city will not be appreciated, find a job in another city and use that as an excuse. Also, I think some soul searching is in order to find out why you fear commitment so much – if it is the fear of getting trapped in a typical, “compromising” Indian marriage, get out and meet more men so that you have a choice – identify a guy you like and who has what you want (but first you need to think through that). If it is not the the fear of being trapped in an unequal marriage but really that you don’t want any sort of permanent commitment – I still think living alone will tell you more about yourself – how equipped you are to live life alone, for one thing. I don’t think there is any shame in admitting that most of us are not designed to live alone. If you find that you can’t imagine your life alone, you probably need to start looking around – in short, try and find the guy who will suit you, rather than waiting for your parents to bug you into it. But as someone who is feminist and in a very happy marriage, I can definitely say that not all marriages are about compromises – or at least, they are more than that.


  8. Germinating
    in a landscaped life
    in a ready made soil,
    rich in
    the requirements
    of living,
    growing tall
    in the eyes of the world
    needs no
    sense or effort;
    just ego.

    Its when
    you stick your neck out
    to entangle your branches
    with another tree,
    that you realize,
    facing storms is easier
    that way sometimes,
    as much as you dont
    like the color of
    the other’s leaves,
    and the
    shape of the trunk.

    Growing tall
    is all about
    each other
    and not
    looking down on someone….


  9. I for one, believe that one should get married only when one is prepared for it, but preparing oneself for a lifetime is not the solution. There should be a middle ground. Like somebody said years ago, we are social beings… and marriage I feel is exactly a social act… you seem to be committed and responsible to your career, isn’t there a give and take (what we otherwise call a compromise) of ideas there as well! Same in a marriage. There is nothing wrong in not getting married or getting into one, just that don’t regret your decision later and don’t jump into or stay away from it because of pressure or boredom, or comfort factors…You will hear varied views about marriage from different people depending on their experiences, there is a good, bad and ugly to everything… Take a vacation, and sort things out in your mind.. everything will be fine when you take your stand 🙂
    Good luck Ria …


  10. When you move out of your parents’ home, whether married or not, you will have to do a series of seemingly boring things to get by- cooking, cleaning, taking care of yourself etc. These are essential for a person to stay alive and lead a reasonably healthy lifestyle and you needn’t tie in marriage with this. The reason why marriage seems to be about all these things is because typically, in India, young people move out only when they get married and they (especially the woman) end up shouldering all these responsibilities. So it looks like it’s the relationship that’s made all these necessary…but it’s not so. In your post, you’ve mentioned coming home and eating dinner, but not that you make it by yourself. So there’s obviously someone who is around to take care of you though these things may seem invisible to us and we may think that we’re leading independent cocooned lives.

    Relationships are not easy, but they can also be very satisfying as long as you enter into them and stay on your own terms. If you really do believe that staying single is a good option for you, then try moving out and living by yourself for a while. You can always find out whether you like it or not.


  11. Quote:
    I am an unmarried twenty eight year old woman residing with my parents, living a hectic life-I go to office, come back, eat dinner, watch a bit of TV, waste time on comp, read a book, and then sleep for another day. On weekends too, it remains the same (yep even the office going part, mostly 🙂 except that I laze on Saturdays and Sundays
    What are you complaining about? You are living a life most young men and women simply dream about and cannot realize .
    Enjoy it while it lasts.
    End Reply
    I am already old by Indian standards
    Feeling “old” at 28? Really? Then how must I feel at 62?
    I shudder to think of how you will feel at 62 in future if you don’t change your thinking.

    , but I am scared of making any commitment yet. I am unable to see the point of it all – devoting your life to one person is such a waste of a good life.
    Okay, don’t make any commitment YET. Wait tilll you are ready. Who said marriage means devoting your life to one person? You will be devoting your life not just to your husband but your children, grandchildren, and a host of relatives. Just as your husband will be devoting his life to you and your children. In your old age, your children can support you. That is what Family Life is all about. Learn to enjoy a family, and do not fear a family. It has been a fundamental building block of all societies for thousands of years and I hope it remains so.

    I do not know what it is, but I definitely do know that men as objects of lust appear more appealing than as objects of love.
    This is likely to be a temporary feeling. As you grow older, I am sure your thoughts will change.
    I see in women, not just objects of lust, but a wife to be my partner for my entire life, for betterof for worse, a mother to respect, a loving sister, and a daughter to dote on. I hope you willl be able to look at men in a similar way.

    I have also started believing that there is no such thing as true love – and that it is just a name for endless compromises that people make in order to remove their loneliness. Moreover, I have grown out to be too self centered to actually think about making sacrifices in a relationship
    Seek counseling from a qualified person. May be if you get involved part time with a social organisation, and volunteer your time and skills, you may see how much better off you are compared to so many others and may learn to overcome these feelings.
    You have probably not faced adversity. Severe adversity. The law of averages and chance tells us you will encounter adversity too at some point in your lifetime. That is when you will realize how important it is not be so self centered. So many people take pride and enjoy living a life for others. You need not go to that extreme, but you can certainly learn to tread a middle path and not be contemptuous of people who think differently from you.

    But somehow, sometimes, I do feel terribly alone. I enjoy this loneliness at times, but for how long? What after my parents pass away? I will be left to fend for myself and by then, my younger brother will have a family of his own. His wife may/may not like a sister-in-law residing with them.One thing I know for sure is I want people around me and not want to be abandoned, though I do enjoy solitude immensely and want my freedom.

    There you are! If you stated confidently that you can live with loneliness and enjoy it for ever, then you don’t need any counseling. These statements give you away. You have realized that you cannot live this way for ever. I am glad you have opened out here and are willing to listen to us.

    As far as the responsibility of a relationship or marriage – I am afraid I will not be able to motivate myself enough to carry it forward. The more the responsibility on me, the less keenly I work nowadays. I generally laugh at people who show too much enthusiasm for life, or their work, or even their relationships
    You are indeed a copmplex person. Don’t marry, till your mind changes. I am amazed at your tendency to laugh at the people you described above.
    If we meet, you won’t stop laughing at me!
    Just imagine,here I am, not knowing you from Eve and taking the time to read your story and spending time on penning this reply, with no thought of what I am going to get from all this.
    I am doing it with full enthusiasm! I expect nothing in return. Not even thanks. I am also ready for the thumbs down ratings that many of my comments elicit on this forum. Why? I don’t know. One reason is that I am completely different from you in my thinking and I am happy to be so. I hope and pray some of my enthusiasm for life, work and relationships rubs off on you and benefits you.
    Also, People bore me after a particular time, which is why when someone gets too close to me, I try stupid things in order to alienate them. I do not want to become best friend to people – burden of relationships or expectations – whether of parents or of society kills me.
    Yes, I agree, some people can be a bore.You need tact to extricate yourself from such people. But most people are definitely not bores. If you find that people bore you after a particular time, I will fault you, not the people.This attitute of yours where you dont even want to befriend people and find relationships and expectations a “burden” is a serious shortcoming in your personality.
    You must overcome this. I am not competent on advising how you must do this.You need expert counseling.

    I wonder if I can save myself from society and people casting doubts on my character if I choose to remain single. I am also afraid of getting trapped in a stagnant marriage if I choose to marry as most of my friends are but would rather die than admit to it. I am scared of becoming sexually frustrated, being used by a man or becoming a pervert, a mere “f–k buddy” in a live in relationship, if I choose to live life on my own terms.
    Lots of women today, remain single. Why do you feel others will question your character? Just ignore them. If you are afraid of getting trapped in a stagnant marriage, don’t marry till you feel safe and are sure that you have met the right person.You can proudly admit this. You need not die. I don’t understand the fears you have listed if you chose to live life on your own terms. Simply go ahead and live that life and don’t feel scared, sorry or repentant. If you change in future, fine. If you don’t never mind. You can still be happy the way you are provided you decide to do so. Your happiness is in your hands. Do not put the responsibility for your happiness on society.
    I am successful career-wise but seem to be heading nowhere as far as my life is concerned.
    What should I do?
    Please guide me, someone suggested I write here.
    If you are successful career wise, half the battle is won. What if your career had been unusccessful or unhappy or unsatisfactory?
    That would have been even more depressing.
    Keeping your successful career, as a secure base, seek competent counseling from qualified people.
    May be taking up social work, or seeking a spiritual guru may help. I don’t know what to suggest but I hope and pray you overcome your emotional problems.
    My regards and good wishes to you.


  12. Man is a social animal. The “desperate to get married to anyone” scene is not something I like or advocate. But we need other human beings. We always do! And we need to take chances. Life is not about winning or being right all the time. It is about taking risks, making mistakes and learning … that is what is called experience and it enriches our lives. Do that, take chances. Until you do that, you just exist. It is taking chances that makes you come alive. You would never have learnt how to walk if you kept sitting on your butt your whole life.


  13. Hi Ria,
    when I started reading your letter, I could relate to your committment issue because I am in the same boat in trying to make up my mind to get pregnant!
    However, when you started writing about what will you do after your parents time, could you live with your younger brother and family etc., it is totally different. I totally agree with the other bloggers here that you need to get your own life on track by moving out, cooking, doing your own shopping, laundry etc., It is ok to get hurt. Enjoy dating and get serious with someone you like, If it is hard to meet someone on your own, ask your parents to arrange a suitable guy, meet with him and check if your wavelength matches. Some of the best marriages have been arranged marriages and parents do keep your best interests in mind! Your thoughts of random sex and f-buddies is not very encouraging and does indicate some insecurity issues and lower self esteem. Everything is correctable as you are still young and successful carreer-wise.
    Take a good step forward and good luck to you 🙂


    • I intend to write a longer reply to the letter later when I have time. But here re: Sunitha’s comment:

      Your thoughts of random sex and f-buddies is not very encouraging and does indicate some insecurity issues and lower self esteem.

      It’s not a insecurity if a woman enjoys sex without commitment. It’s the stereotype that women only relish the emotional part of a relationship and men only the sex. The stereotype doesn’t do any good for either men or women.


  14. My take is: she’s doing fine for herself.

    If she feels she doesn’t wanna get married now, then don’t.

    If she does, then she’s right.

    I don’t think she should hear it from other people bout what she wanna do with her life: sure she might make her own mistakes but the beauty is that it’s her mistakes and not somebody else’s.

    Do what u wanna do with life. Who gives a damn bout what others’ think u shud b doing?



    • Raj,

      Well the fact that she has asked about this on a public forum means she is interested in knowing what we think. So I would fix the tone when saying “Do what u wanna do with life. Who gives a damn bout what others’ think u shud b doing?”


  15. I think she needs to talk to a professional and find out exactly why she is so scared of commitment. Maybe her parents are not happy with each other, or maybe she became disillusioned after a bad relationship… it could be anything. In fact, her fear of commitment seems to extend to regular friendships as well, which is quite a concern, cos if you can’t be/have a friend even, what’s the point?

    Being 28 and unmarried in itself is not that big a deal. I think it’s a good thing, rather, cos you find out so much more about yourself and you’re a lot less confused by that age.

    The downside is, of course, you find out more about yourself and are less confused, so you know what you want, and more importantly, what you *don’t* want. So you’re more choosy, but the way our society works right now is that guys in the same age category generally marries women who are much younger, as of course, as she rightly said, people think 28 is too “old”.

    Also, she’s doesn’t seem to be as independent as she thinks she is, cos she’s still living with her parents and doesn’t want to be alone. Fair enough, not too many people want to live alone. But then, who will you live with?

    That coupled with the fact that she doesn’t get close to anyone at all and doesn’t want friends even, but still doesn’t want to be alone… is quite perplexing.

    Yeah, this definitely needs more looking into, probably by a professional.


  16. Hi Ria,

    I think you indeed are complex. You say that you want freedom but also want to be taken care of, you enjoy being alone, but on being left alone feel abandoned, your life is hectic but you laze on saturdays & sundays, you happily take the responsibilities of your career while do not want to bear ones which come with relationships.

    You seem to have no connect to the word domestic responsibilities. I am afraid what you seem to want, no frills relationship, is a eutopian concept. I think being scared of making commitments is understandable but alienating people is a serious issue.

    I would not want to be judgemental here but I think yours has been a sheltered life and yes it hurts to move out of this comfort zone. I also do not understand, if you really seek independence then why are you still living with your parents or why would you want to live with your brother and his wife? That’s like being dependent right? Actually what I read here is that you like the fact that you have people to support you in need, you want to be provided for and taken good care of but would not like to be burdened with expectations and responsiblities.

    Also, being compliant is not that tough but living life on own terms asks for courage. You have to disregard social norms on several counts be it your choice to remain single or a livein relationship, and you don’t seem to be prepared for that. You are too worried about people’s opinion of you.

    Honestly, I like the fact that you have admitted to being self centred, but even I think you need professional counselling.


  17. You are in a comfort zone dear Ria,for a long time and comfort zones are stagnating and boringgg!
    some suggestions..
    1.get a life outside your comfort zone..that includes office,home,parental protection,books etc..
    2.meet people,
    3.develop a hobby,once a week is enough to devote to that if you are very busy,
    4.try not laughing at enthusiastic people,they drive the society..
    5.not getting married is a non-issue but then,you shouldn’t equate it with end of loneliness…there is enough loneliness even in seemingly perfect marriages,its an entirely personal thing,this loneliness.
    6.If none of the above appeals,please get professional help.It will do wonders.
    Be happy dear!


  18. the very words and manner in which the letter expresses the sentiments tells a lot about Ria if these are the exact sentences and words she has employed.
    it suggests Ria is a very sensitive and an emotionally dependent individual.Such people have difficulty trusting others.Rejection and separation tears them apart ,more than other folks,and thus they continue to be single till late or never marry because the fear of being stuck in a loveless relationship, or wary of the pain a relationship can bring in its wake.They are the last kind to break free from an abusive relationship once they realize that it’s all over.
    hence constant attempts to “alienate people”, “enjoy solitude” yet wanting people around to give themselves a semblance of being “loved” and cared for.However, they grudgingly accept they’re being selfish and not as independent as society would expect them to be.
    These people are infantile emotionally but make superb friends if at all they overcome their inhibitions and trust someone-a task in itself.
    Such people are happy Only when they devote themselves freely to social service.
    else throughout their lives they feel that no person,principle or institution is worth living/dying for.
    I would advice her to let time take its course.Giving in to the demands ,either of society or of parents,can be real tough and give you somebody to blame later on.Contrived independence like moving out, can actually depress you because the need for trust and a stable cocoon is absolute.


  19. Hey Ria
    1)First and foremost please get it out of your head that soon you will be too old for marriage. That’s just a mindset and its rubbish. Love can be found at any age and stage in life. Getting married simply because this is the right age is utter crap and a sure fire way to go into an unhappy married life.

    2)Sit down and ask yourself why exactly you are scared of marriage. Have you seen an unhappy marriage at close quarters or are you simply too independent to get into a relationship. Running away from marriage because it will mean more responsibilities is not a correct approach. Responsibility does not come just when you get married. Being flexible, adjusting, accommodating is essential for all relationships – parents – child, bro-sis, husband – wife, between cousins and even friends. If you continue to be self centered you might find yourself unhappy and lonely at some point in your life (irrespective of the fact that you get married or not)

    3)You live with your parents and have a great career. But you say you are terribly bored. From your mail I assume you don’t have any major responsibility except work. As in you don’t have a family to look after or a house to run. All you have to do is look after yourself. Do you realize what a god given opportunity this is! Use this time to cultivate your hobbies, learn, grow, do new and interesting things. It’s time to bring some zest into your life ! Like others here, I feel living alone; away from your parents might be a good idea. It will give you a better perception of life and get you out of the rut and comfort zone you have fallen into.

    4)You say people bore you. I say it’s time to change your outlook and perceptions. We all encounter boring people. But if you find everything and everyone boring then it’s time to change your attitude towards things.

    5)If you want to stay single – be prepared for a certain amount of loneliness in your life. There will be a time when your friends/siblings will be married and they will spend more time with their families than with you. Be prepared for it and accept it. To stay single you need to be mentally strong. Some people like living solitary lives, some don’t. It depends on what sort of person you are. But don’t think that you will live and die lonely if you are not married. Your birth family, cousins, good friends will always be there for you. All you need to do is cultivate good relationships with them! Also no one is going to question your character if your single. Where did you hear this nonsense? Yes India being India you will need to answer a few uncomfortable questions from nosey people. Laugh them off and take things in your stride.

    I think the major issue for you here is not deciding whether you should get married or stay single, but rather the shape your life is taking. Sit down, take a good long hard look at your life and decide what YOU want out of it and what you need to change to become a more happy and fulfilled person. As GV suggests take a help of a psychologist or even a spiritually enlightened person ( and here I dont mean a tantric or a baba 🙂 !!! )
    Good Luck !


    • Your family members will be around until they die of course. The older you get, the more people around you will die. That means you will get more lonely the older you get, especially if you have no husband and children of your own. You will also feel more lonely when your friends and siblings have their own families and less time to spend with you. However I know at least two ladies in their 60’s who never got children or a partner and they are fine. They are living on their own, but having close relationships to friends and one of them has a lot of nieces and nephews. But it’s not easy being that old and alone if you get ill. One of the ladies had a lot of operations and had to struggle all alone, making her depressed.

      I understand what you mean by “I have also started believing that there is no such thing as true love – and that it is just a name for endless compromises that people make in order to remove their loneliness. ” I have felt the same, when I fell out of love. I believe love needs a good frame work in order to survive. You and your partner must have the same goal with your life, that is religious, spiritual and moral goals. You must have the same set of basic moral values, in order to raise children together. Once you fall in love with a guy I think you will forget about your doubts.

      I agree with the previous comments that you should try living on your own, then you’ll know what your life is going to be like when your parents are no longer there. You can always move back home if you feel that it’s too much. Or if you want to know what real loneliness/independence is like – study a year abroad in Sweden! 🙂


  20. hmmm Ria, I think you need to grow up. You seem to be living in your comfort zone and hence scared of changes (or commitment as you put it). I am no professional psychologist but my advice to you would be to move out of your parents place. If you think seriously you are actually taking advantage of your parents. The way you described your life – may I ask you what is your contribution to the running of household. Do you sometimes cook ? Do you take the garbage out ? Do you clean the bathroom ? And here lies the answer to all your insecurities. You want to continue living like a little princess. What I see is not a person afraid of commitment rather a person afraid of responsibilty. Life has been easy for you. You say you are afraid of making close friends – thats because you actually never felt the need to build relationship. You have your own safety net in your parents and immediate family.
    If you would lived in a hostel during studies you would have understood that dinner time means eat what is served or go hungry. Mummy will not be there to cook your favorite meals.
    If you have shared an appartment (and rent) you would have known that household work needs to be divided. Weekends are times to laze around but also time to get some cleaning done.
    If you had lived away from home and family, you would have learned to build relationship – that friends would be there for you if you are there for them.
    You talk about being an independent working woman then why the hell do you imagine a life with your brother and his wife ? Come on you are an adult – do you want to shift from your responsibilty from your parents to your brother ?

    Marriage is not about sacrifice and compromise or a cure for lonliness. Marriage is about building a life together. It is about taking responsibilty – of the house, of your partner, of your children, of your extended family. Marriage is about sharing your life with that special someone.

    My advice to you would be first to start living like an adult – move out of your parent’s house and take responsibilty.

    All the best to you.


    • Excellent words Divya. I wanted to say the same but was feeling too tired to type it out. Perhaps the lady can pay the rent, do the dishes and feed the dog before trying to say she is independent. Also, I feel she ought to develop hobbies that would bring her into contact with other people. I have made lifelong friends through my online history club, as history is a passion with me. Meeting up with men and trying to rub shoulders with them is also a good idea. After all, she seems to have no experience of men as potential life partners, and ought to get some as it is high time at 28. In short, get a life. I guess the parents are to blame to some extent as well for having cocooned a grown up woman in this fashion.


    • Divya-I may be biased, as I may be imagining her to be similar to what I have grown up with. I could be wrong though.

      If her family is anything like mine, her parents may refuse to even let her do any chores (yes, such parents exist). Her parents may refuse to accept rent. My mom’s response was “We’re Indians! What do you mean you will pay rent? We’re not white people” when I had offered to pay rent when living with my parents.

      Her parents may want to infantalize her by not expecting any responsibility from her. It may not that she thinks of herself as a little princess, but her parents have created a situation where she’s expected to live as such.

      My mom and brother used to tell me I was a spoiled brat that didn’t want to do anything, but when I would ask them that I wanted to help out…they would refuse as if they wanted to keep me in this role where I had no power to move out. Trying to move out from my toxic home was probably one of the worst hells that I went through, so I can imagine what it must feel like for others. If people want to judge me and scoff at me, so be it.


    • Divya, I think you’re being a tad disrespectful to this young woman who has at least the courage to be honest about her fears and anxieties. Don’t hate! 🙂 We don’t know enough about her life to adopt any sort of judgemental attitude. I know it feels good to sit in judgment but let us also have some compassion and respect for someone we do not really know well enough to judge. Everyone’s life situations are different. And the ability to run a house, while no doubt important, is not a suitable yardstick with which to judge a person’s ability to assume responsibilty. We all lived at home at one time, and we all learned to run a house and do the chores once we were put in such a situation. So let us not act oh-so-superior


  21. I see a huge fear of rejection here, Ria. (Of course, I could be wrong, but mulling over your words, this thought emerged).
    Maybe moving out and learning to lead life truly independently will give you the courage and confidence to deal with Life itself. Partner or not is a secondary issue.
    Please leave home as soon as you can!


  22. hey ria,
    one thing is clear , u dont feel comfortable in ur comfort zone anymore , u realise something has to change, u want to know how to go on about it, u can read all the advices above and choose whether to just ignore or do something about it. it is u who has to take the step my dear. LIFE is confusing at every step of the way, even if u r doing mundane everyday things like deciding what to cook …. deciding what to wear, so just imagine ur confusion n fears are normal , but one thing is do not over analyze people, situations bcoz these things do change our part in enjoying our surroundings. have a open mind, enjoy ur life, most importantly welcome people into ur life. dont take any nonsense , be straight forward from the beginning , i have experienced lots of people like if u are one faced rather than other way around…..ask ur closest friends or ur parents in what way u can be a better person(can be hard but believe me it opens lots of doors) , i dont believe in therapies and all, it has to come from within urself, conscience n ones soul is the most powerful gift we have . Ask urself what u want, need, i very much doubt u have already done that……all u have to do is reach out. Measure Twice……cut once
    Good Luck n Peace


  23. What I feel is that, it is absolutely no problem to lead a life as she wants it to lead. However, she needs to find out what makes her commitment-phobic. The reasons for being commitment phobic varies. But, you need to find out the root of the cause, the actual cause. You should not play with your mind while searching for the actual cause, and should be absolutely honest to yourself.

    Once you know the reason, you may find it easier to deal with it. You may find ways how to change yourself, or you may think it to be alright. Just remember, there is nothing bad to be commitment phobic.

    But, at the same time, you should keep it in mind, that you should not be depressed in life. Because, once you are in the depression phase, then, it will be very difficult to be happy, and you will just blame anything for your depression.

    Anyhow, I will perfectly agree with Kay’s advice, that you should try living alone away from parents. You can possibly take a transfer in your office, and move out to another city (that will be the best reason to move out, which your parents will have to agree). In that way, you will have a first hand experience of the “staying alone”, and you will understand whether you like it or not. And, don’t think that if you like staying alone for one or two months, you will like it forever. You might have to wait for 1 whole year or even more to get the actual feelings.

    Anyhow, Best of luck for your life!!!


  24. You need some excitement happening in your life Girl !!
    Don’t you worry about what people would say or how you will be abandoned …that is a stupid thought . Marriage or no marriage , life has to be lived …..not shouldered as a burden. Come on .. join the WOW group or do something energetic.


  25. I think this letter writer has a lot of growing up to do before she makes any permanent life decisions: I believe she should put off any decisions concerning marriage for at least 1-2 years until she knows what she really wants and what she is doing!

    My advice to her would be to move out of her parents’ home and start living independently at once. Right now, she’s being really pampered – someone else (probably her mother!) is cooking for her and cleaning for her and maybe even managing her finances for her (or else giving her a free ride on rent, food, bills, etc).

    Not only does she need to stop taking advantage of these free services, she needs to send a strong message to her family that she is her own person, an adult capable of making independent decisions. She needs to BECOME her own person, an adult capable of making independent decisions. This can only happen if she moves out.

    Incidentally, this will take care of any worry she has about living with her brother’s family after her parents are gone.

    She also needs to think very carefully about what her values are, what she believes is right and wrong, and start living her life by these values. Right now all she seems to believe is some hodge-podge of very self-contradictory opinions fed to her by society: “marriage is sacrifice”, “live-in relationships means men taking advantage of women”, “a girl must live honorably i.e. never have a bad reputation”, etc etc.


    • I would agree with samosaofdoom totally. The letter writer certainly needs to grow up and understand how to live independently and take up responsibilities. And for that she needs to move out of her parents house.
      Once that step is taken, I believe that things will get clearer for her.


  26. This was me a couple of years ago, not so averse to marriage, but more like confused avoiding marriage and at times even pressurising my parents to look for a match because I was scared of missing the bus. And I am the same age as you are right now. I live on my own, in a different city.

    The difficult realisation is that most of us always have a choice and every choice comes at a price. If you choose something, you do lose something else. As they say, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. So if we choose to be single, there are certain things that will be different from the lives of some people around us. The key is to not drown in feeling bad about all of this. At first, that is the most difficult thing to understand, to not get overwhelmed by what is different in our lives compared to others, because this feeling of otherness leads to self doubt and bitterness.

    If you are not comfortable with marriage, please don’t get married. It will not only affect you but also the other person involved. There is no set way how people should live their lives, so don’t bother about what others say. Also though the fears you mention in the end are real, nothing and I repeat nothing is the end of the world. You may go through a bad time because of any of those, but you will be able to come out of it, if you stop listening to how things ‘should’ be and be answerable only to yourself.

    At the same time, explore why exactly do you want to stay single, whether its just a reluctance to take responsibility or an informed choice. If it is an informed choice you should not face any problems. But if it is just because you want to be away from responsibilities, then be aware that even being single is a responsibility, just that it is of a different nature. Remaining single or marrying should not be a choice to escape something, rather both should be about embracing something. So examine your motives and try and talk it out with someone you trust or maybe a counselor, then you will be better able to answer some of your own questions.

    Finally something I myself am learning, be at peace with whatever you decide and know that you are responsible for it good or bad and you can very well take corrective measures too. Good luck.


  27. Move away from parents, there is too much out there to shut yourself out into a tiny narrow box. If your parents are dead set against you moving out this will be harder, you will have to do it anyway without telling them. Don’t give up on your life, think beyond marriage, kids and what everybody else is doing, try to create something, go travelling … just get out of that corner you are in otherwise you may look back one day and wonder “what happened, where did it all go?”

    Get out !!!!


  28. Thank you all for the replies!

    I’ve lived in a hostel,mostly pay my own bills,sometimes cook on weekends when not working…but also need security and don’t feel like living alone to prove a point.I do need a family but not through marriage or by “building a life together”-where surely brings in more responsibility,of which I’ve enough already. To know new people and establish new relationships does not cheer me. Paradoxically,it’s my loneliness I don’t want to share with anyone yet find it scary sometimes…


  29. Ria,
    You seem to be having somewhat distorted and incomplete image of this. Dont take this in the wrong way, if you hadnt mentioned you are 28, I would have easily assumed you are about 23.
    You claim that you live a hectic life by ‘eat dinner, watch a bit of TV, waste time on comp, read a book, and then sleep for another day’. How hectic is your life compared to a person who does everything you said plus cooking, cleaning, laundry, higher studies and also performs well as a sister,daughter, friend, companion and an employee.

    You are not old!! Its a good thing that you dint get married, cos clearly you are not ready.

    You think this is a good way to live your life. I may be wrong, but from what I gather you are not living a complete life. Just imagine that everyone at your home had to go away for a couple of months. You couldnt go because of professional committments. Whats your life going to be like? All by yourself at your home, do you think you can take care of all your needs? Can you run your home?What if there is a plumbing issue? What if you had to stay late for work?

    You are unneccessarily complicating the concept of a relationship. It is very simple. You just have to be a good human being and treat others with respect.

    To marry or not is totally your choice, but why would you think of living with your brother’s family? You still think your brother will be okay with it? How much would you or your mother like it if your father’s sister was to live with you permanently? Get the idea of living with your parents/brother out of your head. Irrespective of your marital status, buy a house for yourself.

    Your statement about love confuses me! Dont confuse the feeling with the expression. Love is not reserved for lovers. I am sure you love your family and they love you too. Your mom loves you and your father, but expresses it differently with each of you.

    You seem to be scared of building relations. You wont learn the skill of building a realtion and more importantly maintaining it unless you are on your own. That will bring the confidence back in you.You will make mistakes, but mistakes are good if you dont throw away the lesson.


  30. Hi Ria–I’ve been following this thread quite persistently to see if you were going to reply! I have to say, I agree with the Wanderer above–I too would have thought you were somewhere around your early twenties or late teens. Reading your response leads me to believe that your family is very wealthy–you might pay your own minor bills, but you have no experience in budgeting out your finances for the month.

    People who pay rent (and rent is generally the biggest bill one would have for the month) need to figure out their finances beforehand–i e, put money aside for electricity, internet/TV, shopping, groceries etc and then put what’s left over into savings. If your family is very rich and already has a large saings account (and when I say large, I mean somethign that will last you for the rest of your life) for you, then perhaps you may not need to have this skill. But if your family is not that wealthy then you’re in a very bad position right now.

    What will you do if your parents pass away suddenly? I find it ridiculous that you’d depend on your YOUNGER brother to fend for himself and his family AND you when your parents pass away. Is it because he’s a man and you’re a woman that you think he should take care of you and provide you with security for the rest of your life? I can guarantee you that all women will think twice before starting a relationship with a man who insisted on living with a sibling in her late 20s / 30s, who said she’d always live with him and it was his job to fend for her while she was perfectly capable of doing so herself.

    If you’ve noticed, lots of people have recommended that you move out on your own and you’ve replied that you don’t want to move out to prove a point. It’s not about proving a point–it’s about being a functional human being, which you are not at the moment.

    Your understanding of reality is distorted–your life is not hectic and you have an immature understanding of romantic relationships and a dramatic understanding of your loneliness. You definitely need professional help–if you have a successful career and are making good money then you have the means of seeing a good psychiatrist + a psychologist. I would also suggest going to the gym every morning and developing a routine.


  31. Do you realise how contradictory every statement of yours is?

    Thing is the world, your family etc. was not created for your convenience you know. They all have a purpose of their own, which has nothing to do with you. The problem as I see it is that you want everything to be always about you.

    You say you have a lot of responsibility. What unique responsibilities do you have that others your age don’t? Infact cooking sometimes and paying bills is just normal, its not a responsibility. Do you have a plan for your life? Any goals? Because I think your fundamental problem is you have nothing beyond the usual to live for. You say you are successful career wise. Why not take a transfer to a different city and revive your career interest? Your question is about passion for life itself. If we go to the extreme of your thinking we can all always rationalise, why do anything when we know we will all die one day. Surely you do not want to go there.

    Marrying or not is not your problem. Your problem is a sheer boredom with life itself, but also that you don’t want to do anything about it. Get off you a** and do something woman. And also not everything you do is going to be spectacular. Life is not some show of cosmic brilliance, its about routine most of the time, so if you expect that life is only worth it if there is something extra ordinary happening all the time, then of course you will hate anyone enthusiastic about the simple joy of having a relatively problem free life. There is enough to do in the world, you just need to get around to doing it.


  32. I’m impressed that everyone seems to have given such good advice.

    In reply to Ria’s reply, you mentioned that you lived in a hostel. Did you enjoy that experience? I remember thinking I was a loner until I moved cities for uni and lived with my cousin. I was home alone a lot and hated it. I realised I hate coming home to to an empty house.

    That in itself is not a reason to get married, but it’s something to think about. One of the big rationales historically is companionship for life. You may have noticed how many married people suddenly become boring and don’t go out so much. Often that is because they are happy to hang out with each other and spend time at home. That’s a wonderful thing. Love is not just an endless series of compromises – yes, there are compromises involved and big ones but there are also many rewards. I think when you meet the right person all these doubts get resolved on their own. And that person needn’t be a man either.

    I think staying single for life is fine… but you have been honest enough to say that you don’t think you can handle the loneliness. You are right in that your brother’s wife would probably not appreciate you living with them… and that is perfectly understandable. And your parents are not going to be around forever. So you need to think about what then and invest in your future. Either you toughen up and learn to live alone in preparation for what will be inevitable if you choose to be single or you give some and try to forge a relationship. Maybe you should practice on friendship first.


  33. Ostensibly,I come across as street smart and have friends,but have an inherent fear of forming deep bonds.So I alienate people when they start to expect much out of me…
    can’t live all alone in Delhi and come back to an empty house( for emotional and security reasons,not that I need someone to depend upon to pay my bills).I currently reside with my parents.As a single woman,I need family around,when all I desire is a solitary life, amazed how I have still not figured out what my wants are at the age of 28.
    I daily run on the treadmill,have long working hours,mostly slogging on weekends too.But when free,I laze on weekends and make the most of it:-).


    • I’m not one of those saying you should move out since you already seem to know that you would not emotionally enjoy the experience. So you are already aware of the lesson you would presumably learn by living away from family. My question is – given that you know you wouldn’t like to live alone, how do you expect to carry on if your parents are not around?

      Rest assured that your brother is going to move on in his life if he has any sense. Why? Because new couples need to live on their own to forge their lives together. On this blog people have talked about time and time again how stressful it is for newly married couples to live with in-laws.

      If you had a strong friend, you could make arrangements to live with her in case of your parents not being there. But you don’t even have a good friend.

      So the point is, given that you don’t want to live alone, what are you going to do? If you are insecure about living alone as a young person, imagine how insecure you would be as an old person with genuine physical ailments.

      I think Dipali had something perceptive about fear of rejection. All of us have been hurt but you need to learn to trust people – and also to expect that people are not perfect and sometimes they will fail you. I had difficulties learning this too, and ironically it’s a lesson I learnt in marriage. My husband will and does sometimes let me down. And it’s ok. As long as he is there for me lots of time as well.


  34. @Ria–I don’t get it. You’ve asked for advice and pretty much said you cannot do what most people have suggested for you.

    Saying that you can’t live alone in Delhi for security reasons doesn’t make sense. My colleague lives by herself, has been doing so for years. There are tons of women I know in Delhi who live with roommates / friends. And from what I’ve seen of the work/life balance in India, *everyone* slogs their a** off, not just you. You have the additional luxury of coming home to a warm meal with the knowledge that you can laze off on weekends.

    You’ve pretty much admitted to being a very needy person (you’re already making plans of moving in with your brother in the future) so I have to say that you do not come across as a street smart person at all.

    Best of luck in the future and hope you figure things out.


    • I rather enjoy the luxury of this warm meal.
      why should not live with my family in my own house? I would help my brother and his future wife in ways say cooking meals,but to live with room mates when you have your own family is a wee bit odd.
      interdependence-neither dependence nor independence.


      • Do you think your brother’s wife will like the idea of your sharing their home?
        What if they move to another city/country at some future time when your parents aren’t there either? Living somewhere close by is also an option.
        What if you are not compatible?


      • have raised these very doubts in my mail.I don’t want to encroach upon anybody’s freedom and need my desire for freedom to be equally respected.
        I want my family close,they’re the ones I have come to trust.I’ve trusted people in the past and been badly let down,my sibling and parents helped me emerge.Blood is thicker than water.
        but my question remains.
        btw,Ruchira and Prajakta replies helped.


      • Ria,
        I think its fine as long you are flexible in your decision making!!! I mean that, if you are thinking of something, then you can go for it. But, just keep this in mind that everything may not turn as you wish. And, under that changed scenerio, you have to have enough options to you, so that you can lead your life in your ways… And, most of time, you will find that things are not falling in places as you wished, and then just believe yourself, and don’t blame others. You should know that it was just a mistake that was made by YOU and NO ONE ELSE. And, then just move on with your life.

        About marriage, if you don’t want to be in a marriage, its well adn good. I have seen many bad marriages, and know what it brings for the family. So, you can lead your life in your own terms, but, please do not complain to others in future, if you feel lonely (which might or might not occur)!!!



      • Ria,

        It looks like you are doing very well. Initially, from your letter, you came off as a dependent individual afraid of taking responsibility for herself. But from your replies to comments, it’s clear you are a strong and independent woman.

        Also I think we are used to this rather narrow view of family (re: Kay’s comment) where it’s just husband and wife and kids. Maybe grandparents too. There’s no room for anyone else.

        A family of you, your brother and his wife and their kids is non-traditional. But it doesn’t mean that it’s not going to work. As long as all of you involved in it are OK with it and are willing to iron out any differences among one another, it would. Communication is the key here.

        Similarly living with your parents. Your parents may have different expectations (that you’d get married and move out). If you like to live with them long term, make sure you are not imposing it on them. On a side note, you seem to have great parents who support you (it seems that way from your comments). As another late 20’s single Indian woman who has no interest in marriage or relationships, I wouldn’t last more than two weeks living with my parents, in spite of loving them dearly.


      • Sorry it wasn’t Kay’s comment that reflected “the narrow view of family” as I said in my earlier reply. It was somewhere else in the comment thread. I lost it now.


      • Living with roommates is not interdependence. It is just a smart way of saving on money and have someone around so that you don’t feel unsafe if you do. It is up to you to make that relationship dependence or independence, although not many people would want a dependent roommate around.

        From one of your later replies it seems to me that you have been hurt in the past and expect your family, who stood by you, to stay by you always. Unfortunately life does not work that way. Your parents, to put it bluntly, would not be around for ever. Your brother would have his own family to be concerned about – you might not be top priority, and that might hurt you in the future. Rather than depend on people when you are older and be hurt, would it not be smarter to learn to be independent when you are young? Independence is not just about paying your bills or living alone from your parents (although those are valuable life lessons) It is about taking responsibility for your your decisions and the direction of your life. It is about being emotionally secure with those decisions. It is hard, I know, but you have to will yourself out of that illusory cocoon you have spun around yourself.

        Alienating people in your life – that is not healthy. I have had friends like that and trust me, they are a pain to handle. The people I have met are not bad, simply so hurt in life that they take it out on others. They stay miserable, make people around them miserable, and then think that they are bad people who never make any friends or sustain relationships. They do not realize that such behavior is due to not being able to process past hurt. Most people who are described as narcissistic, borderline personality people fit into this category. Don’t be one of them. You have identified that you are confused and need help. Take the first step by talking to a professional. It might be a sticky mess where you are but you can get out of it. Hope you have the strength to fight back – life is a pretty good place to be in all said and done.


  35. The article, with the comments, have become a collection of very useful pieces of advice esp for those who aren’t sure if they are ready for marriage. I’ve already recommended this to one of my such friends 🙂


  36. Ria,
    The main thing is that you cannot ask for public advice, and then expect others to support what you want, or others to have same view towards life as yourself.

    It’s your life, you have whole freedom how to live your life, and whether that is right or wrong will be decided in the future, after all Rights and Wrongs in life are just relative things!!!

    And, coming to advices, I am sure, while you are going through the advices, you know that you have come across all these thoughts in your mind. Right? Because, we know everything in our sub-conscious, and we just try to press the things that our heart does not want to take…

    So, i will tell you to just go ahead with your life, and enjoy it as you wish. You need not follow others advices, you listen to them only if you like it, or else, trash them… You can lead your life as you are leading, or may change your life style, anyhow just go by your wishes, be it immatured or mature!!!

    But, never play the blame game… I find those people most irritating those who blame others for what is hapening in their lives!!! Its your life, and you chose how to live it…



  37. //Why should not live with my family in my own house? I would help my brother and his future wife in ways say cooking meals,but to live with room mates when you have your own family is a wee bit odd.//

    Why not, indeed?

    1) Because your brother’s wife will not like it.

    2) Because you ought not to be forcing yourself on a couple.

    3) Because it is much better to move out on your own than depend on this. Everyone should move out.

    4) It is not odd to live with roommates. It is a strengthening experience and you make friends for life.

    5) Lots of women stay alone in Delhi. You are just scared shit, because that is what society tells you.

    Also, if you are so scared of forming friendships, what if your brother’s wife “bores” you? Perhaps she may be too enthusiastic about having you in the family, and you would only laugh at her for being such a fool to tolerate your leeching on your brother.

    I am sorry, but you are coming across as very selfish, lazy, insecure and unconcerned about people in your life. And whiny too. You must always be correct, and everything else must go your way. It usually does not, hon! Don’t make the mistake of marrying someone and then expect them to run circles around you. Marriage is a give and take relationship, and if you can’t handle it, don’t marry.


    • @Fem

      You might not know me as a person to judge what has gone into my making,or what all experiences I’ve had to become what I am today.Once a romantic, I’ve come a long way from burning my fingers to being a self-proclaimed selfish and not compromising for people other than my family.
      I know I can stay alone but if given a choice my answer would be NO
      All single women are expected to stay alone?


  38. Hi Ria,

    I might not be the right person to ‘advise’ you, but I what I can tell you is, I have also been a victim of Social-anxiety disorder. I came to know of it only when I did some soul-searching for the past 3 years because I was failing at everything in life. I had no friends, couldn’t cope with office envirnoment ( I used to put myself down because I didn’t have fancy clothes to wear like the other women at work. I isolated myself from team outings, never a part of team gossip or celebrations at my bay etc), was very bitter and angry at everything and everybody, hated family get-together, loved being alone, cried at the pathetic situation I was in, was embarrassed for not having 200+ of friends on Facebook, judged like hell, zero self esteem, put others down to make myself feel better, couldn’t understand how some people had sooo many happy people in their lives etc.

    You know what, this was because I was bullied in school, molested by my first ever boyfriend, constantly criticized by parents, sister and teachers, academically ‘average’, resigned my first job within 4 months and was unemployed for 2.5yrs because I thought I didn’t have it in me to have a life!

    But since the realisation, I am making constant efforts to put my old critical self in its place and try to learn something new everyday. I still get angry, bitter and judgmental but not to the point where it goes out of control. I have also learned detach myself from things beyond my control.

    One person I would like to credit for my sanity is my husband of 1 month who stood by me no matter what for 5 difficult years! Let me tell you, this one relationship has made me so emotionally secure that I am able to understand what selfless means! If I were to die tomorrow I know one person who would cry for me.

    I think for you, Ria, stop framing conclusions!!! Get out of home, for your own well being.

    I did and I am thankful. Life hasn’t changed 360 degrees but 45 degrees is not bad either!


  39. There are many people living alone in Delhi, I have friends my age and younger, yes women, living alone in Delhi. But since Delhi is the problem, like I suggested, why not go somewhere else, take a transfer to a safer city maybe. And as for living in the same city without family, a friend of mine works in Noida, her family is in Gurgaon and she stays on her own in Noida despite her family also living in the NCR region.

    You don’t really get it when you say you will help your brother’s wife in cooking. Why should your brother or his wife pay for your decision to not get married? Why not take responsibility for yourself? And everyone can. People will hurt you, shutting yourself up is not going to change that. In fact by limiting your interactions with only certain people you increase your chances of being severely hurt, because you don’t have another option. Being let down by others is not an experience unique to one person. I have been living on my own for the last 6 years and have been let down by people and yes my family were the only people who stood by me then. But just because of that I can’t keep running back to them every time I find some people trying to undermine me. What would be a successful resolution of the problem is if I learn from each such encounter and become better at identifying and handling such people. I know people who have been in physically abusive marriages, who walk out, stay with their parents only till they get another job. Even after being let down in the cruelest way by people, they don’t hide behind that forever. Maybe you should get some professional help in this regard because this negativity will prevent you from ever feeling good about yourself, even if your family forever stays with you. Find what is missing and fix it.

    Your problem is not to marry or not, it is about continuing to live the way you are right now forever and ever. You want to stay in a utopia and not change.

    We are not asking you to leave the luxury of home and abandon your family. What we are asking you to do is be responsible for yourself and basically realise that if something is your decision, you and only you face its consequences and you should not try to pass it on to others. So if you want to be single, there is no problem, just don’t try and make others change their lives around for your decision. They have no obligation even if blood is thicker than water. Blood ties are not meant to be a noose around their necks.

    The constant thing in your comments is that you want people to always be there for you, but you won’t be there for them, because that is too much responsibility. If you think you have a right to be free of responsibility so does your family. Why should they be there to help you every time you feel lonely or unable to handle your life? Family can rally help for you, but ultimately you have to do it yourself. Its like the story of the horse and the water.

    And the sad truth is that everyone has to pull their own weight. You could spend the rest of your life waiting for some miraculous thing to happen so that you don’t have to work at building your life or you could start doing something for yourself on your own.


    • Why independence should be seen as moving away from parents. It might provide free facilities surely.However,it comes with more accountability since most parents are control freaks.I lived with my parents till I got married at 28.Aishwarya rai stayed with her parents, independent ,married late at 33 .The idea of changing your city in the name of independence is ridiculous when you have a well established base.It is also negative to assume that her parents would want her to move out or she cannot have a space in her own house when her brother marries.
      I know of an old lady who had fertility issues and never married,bonded well with her sister-in-law who truly respected her.At the end of the day,we all are lonely but need people around. To each his own.


      • I think it has more to do with desi parents, I’m sorry but majority are completely out of whack, major control freaks and toxic. It is very necessary specially for desis to make acquiring indepedence a major goal in early twenties and understand how to balance the relationships. Extreme steps should be taken if all else fails, nobody should ever give on their life, life without freedom is worthless.


      • S, I would have stayed with my parents too had I got a job back home, so please do not make this about family values. Her question itself talks about the fear of changes within the family and she herself doesn’t seem confident of being able to handle it if things will change in anyway. Of course, her fears might not be true, we don’t know that, but then do we plan life based on everything being perfect, or do we plan for contingencies. Even if she stays on, she will have to be emotionally independent, because once her parents grow older and her brother marries, she won’t be able to get her emotional needs fulfilled in the same way as now.

        Also nowhere does her mail state she has control freak parents, in fact, I would stick my neck out to say, she has very liberal parents who seem to be treating her on par with her brother. She doesn’t seem to be pressurised to share the house duties even after a busy work day like most girls in India are asked to. Also I am unsure if she does any planning or handling of finances for her family, which most people start doing after they cross a certain age, even if their parents say its not needed. Aishwarya Rai, though she lived with her parents, planned her own life, she invested her own money, she handled her own relationships and she contributed in running the household, was probably also the chief earning member at home. If Ria can involve herself more with ‘responsibility’ (something she hates) at home, then there is no reason why she should move out. But the letter doesn’t state anything to that effect. But since S has raised this issue, things Ria can do without moving out :

        1. Start getting to know the finances of the family, how does the family manage the daily bread and rents and other things.

        2. Start taking more interest in planning things for the family, Ria herself has said that they have been her rock. So has she done anything to express her gratitude? She could maybe plan some small events for the family.

        3. Start identifying areas where she could play a more decisive role in the family, areas where she could contribute, take it up in the same way as she would take up a project at work.

        4. How have you planned the health of your family members, maybe you could take an interest in your parents’ health and plan for their old age.

        5. What does the brother do? Is there some way she can be a more active member in his life?

        6. I think some others above suggested volunteering, can she try that?

        7. Basically do things that could make her a more contributing member in the family, one who is taking responsibility of the family and is not the child in the family anymore. What is her larger role in the family?

        8. And most importantly, where does she see herself as a person 10 years down the line?

        If you have any more ideas S about how you handled being an adult at home, then please add.

        The reason why a lot of people recommended moving out was that it forces you to take responsibility, since she seemed reluctant about it.

        I agree when you say to each his own, but the reasons for staying with family should not be convenience, but participation. Just as marriage is a responsibility, so is staying with your family a responsibility. It is not just about a warm meal or a shoulder to cry on. And just like in a marriage, even in a family, you have to be a person of your own, before you can be contributing to it.


      • I know 20-something Desis that have moved away from their parents, but their parents still pay for their apartments and expenses. How is that independent? I know Desis, who still live with their parents, but take care of their own expenses.


  40. Come on, people (those who say that Ria should think about what’s she’s going to do when her parents die)!

    Having a spouse/live-in partner isn’t insurance for life-long companionship. Your spouse may die or divorce you or stray or lose interest in the relationship. Moreover average lifespan of women is about 5 years more than that of men.

    So it would be very wise if we don’t use this line of reasoning for asking her to think about the loneliness in her future. Have you thought about yours? Oh, having kids so that they’ll look after you in old age is equally erroneous.

    Sorry if I came across as rude. I heard this line of reasoning so often IRL and on the Internet that it has crossed the threshold for my patience and politeness.


    • Yeah but a spouse does not (or in healthy relationships, *should* not) be taking care of you as if you’re a CHILD.

      Despite having a job she’s not paying rent or for groceries or household repair bills or any such thing. She has no responsibilities at all within the home, no chores to do, no cooking, not even managing servants. She doesn’t have to take care of kids and she doesn’t have to help out her parents who still seem to be young enough not to require any care or anything at all from her.

      It’s like she’s six years old! If a six year old loses her parents, she becomes very helpless indeed, right?

      In a marriage, however, she would be an equal team member in the running of the household. She would share responsibility for the home, chores, managing schedules, servants, cooking, children (if any), social commitments, bills, utilities, repairs, vehicles, etc etc in addition to her work. She would be, in short, responsible for her own life as well as the life of people in her family. So even if she loses her spouse, she still has enough knowledge and skills and a basic sense of responsibility to go on living by herself.


      • @Samosaofdoom

        You (and several others here) have automatically made the assumption that Ria’s parents take care of everything for her: cooking, cleaning, repairs, rent, etc., and that she’s treated like a six-year old. I was just trying to point out that it’s perhaps not so.

        Yes, I agree that Ria needs to be responsible and independent. But just because she’s living with her parents doesn’t mean she’s neither of those. I have no evidence one way or the other except for what she said in one of the comments that she had lived in hostels before, but I am not one making assumptions here.


  41. @Lara–I’m one of those people who thinks she should move out of her parents house. I DON’T think any of these commenters are saying that Ria should get married. In fact, many have said that she is, in no way, ready for such a committment. What I am saying is that she cannot fend for herself should anything happen to her parents and her brother. And that is miserable position to be in.


    • @kay: We automatically assume that Ria is not independent and relies heavily on her parents for nearly everything in her life because she’s living with her parents and that moving out would make her independent and self-reliant. That is important because she needs to fend for herself when her parents pass away and/or when her brother moves out.

      I was just pointing out the apparent hypocrisy in this piece of advice. When a woman relies heavily on her husband (say a stay-at-home wife with nearly no say in the finances of the family and still satisfied with the marriage), no one ever suggests that she move out and live on her own just so that she could become more self-reliant. Otherwise how is she going to take care of herself when her husband dies unexpectedly or divorces her?

      Just like how married women/men can be independent or not, those who live with their parents can be too. It’s a stereotype we have that anyone who is out of their teens and still lives with their parents has to be an irresponsible person.

      To be honest, I am usually in the move-out-of-your-parents’-house camp. Also I agree that Ria came off as a little too dependent on her parents in the letter. But from her comments in the thread, it seems she’s pretty independent and can live on her own when there’s such a need. So in this case I don’t see why she should move out of her parents’ house.


      I think that Ria should make an effort to meet more people. Yes, some people are boring. What I learned from meeting people is that there’s no one person who has exactly the same interests and opinions as you. So you got to seek out different people for different activities. Some of them can become your really good friends.


      • > When a woman relies heavily on her husband (say a stay-at-home wife with nearly no say in the finances of the family and still satisfied with the marriage)


        Stay-at-home wives may depend on their husbands’ INCOME but –

        1) the crowd here will ALWAYS advise her to get a job and become financially independent, and

        2) the SAHW is still living the life of an adult rather than that of a child by taking on real responsibilities other than earning money (such as the running of the whole household, managing finances on an everyday basis for bills and groceries and paying servants and for repairs, cooking, cleaning, scheduling, keeping social commitments, etc)


      • @Samosaofdoom

        I replied to your comment earlier. I think what I said there is relevant here too. But I’ll address this one specifically.

        I don’t disagree that Ria has to be independent, responsible and all those adjectives. What I specifically said was you can’t assume that she’s not just because she’s living with her parents. If she is not, she can try to be all those without necessarily moving out of her parents’ house.

        Coming to this comment: Yes, the crowd here would advise a SAHW to get a job or talk with the husband to gain more say in the family finances, etc. But would anyone here advise her to MOVE OUT just so she become more independent and be able to fend for herself when she is satisfied with the arrangement in her marriage?


  42. IHM, this is a note to you- I don’t know where this lady is based, but if she is in Delhi then I can recommend an NGO for counseling. I am regularly going there myself and more than counseling, I also derive a lot of emotional support from my counselor. Do let me know if can help in any way.


  43. Her comments scream abuse (I do not mean physical. It could be emotional too) and confusion to me. The issue is not independence or the lack of it. It is not about being irresponsible either. To me it seems like she is hurt so much in the past that she has built walls around her. She has lost trust in people; these people could be anyone – friends, partner or anyone she considers an outsider. She is scared of letting people in because I think she is scared that she will get hurt again.

    Coming out of that phase should happen on her own and may be through people whom she trusts.


    • I thought so too. She may be afraid to trust anyone or may be confused about boundaries. It’s a thin line that separates emotional intimacy from co-dependency and a lot of people have trouble being emotionally intimate without being co-dependent. I hope Ria can learn to trust people without feeling overwhelmed and out of control. I hope Ria gets some therapy and takes an honest look at herself before entering into marriage or a committed relationship. A lot of people in our society are often ill-equipped to handle emotional and physical intimacy because there is so little awareness about emotional and mental health in our society. Marriage is such a functional, utilitarian institution in our society that we fail to pay attention to its emotional side. We are so busy teaching our kids to uphold “traditions and customs” that we forget to teach them the art of building healthy, non-manipulative and respectful relationships.


  44. Pingback: Wish every girl was like Aisha? | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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