Being Single in India

Guest Post by wordssetmefreee

My niece has often shared with me the troubles of being single in India. A couple of her friends are now almost turning 30 and pressure from their families is mounting. This they’ve chosen to ignore, but everyday life is not easy. The way neighbors and random strangers seem to treat them is reprehensible.

What are some challenges single Indians (both men and women) face?

Based on my niece’s experiences, and the comments from My Era, Neha, Cosettez, Simta, and Fem on the recent post on ‘women and friendship’, here are some –

Practical/Everyday Challenges

  • renting a place to stay
  • going out in one’s neighborhood (attracting uncalled for attention, especially single women from ogling men )
  • living in an apartment complex where everyone makes it their person business to worry about your future
  • for women, mild to moderate to severe harassment from some men in the building (staring, lewd remarks or worse)
  • getting mistrustful looks from some married women (being viewed as a potential ‘threat’) and not getting invited to family gatherings, pujas, festivals celebrated in the building
  • advice from family, relatives, neighbors and random strangers to get married and settle down and obsessive matchmaking that sometimes borders on abuse
  • Questions like, “Why are you not living with your parents?” (or at least with an aunt’s family)
  • being judged for dating or being in a relationship or pretending to be married when you are in a live in relationship
  • for women, being constantly reminded of your biological clock ticking
  • finding your name appearing mysteriously on matrimonial websites, without your permission, with the description, “highly educated, yet traditional, fair, beautiful, makes X amount.”
  • difficulty finding and keeping friends as most people get married by 30
  • patronizing attitudes from co-workers with families
  • workplace discrimination (“if you are single and over 35, there must be something wrong with you”)
  • questions on the person’s orientation, which is now everyone’s business
  • friends of the opposite gender forbidden from visiting apartment (because God forbid, they may have consensual sex. And we’re okay with marital rape, of course, that’s the poor woman’s problem, but consensual sex is everyone’s problem)
  • If you are divorced, you either did something wrong or you are unlucky. You no longer make the cut in terms of group membership.
  • Single women wanting to adopt a child face bureaucratic and societal challenges
  • Real threat to safety (when I go for my morning run wearing shorts in India, I feel safer if my hubby, brother or older son goes along with me. I’ve tried running alone but felt intimidated by the hostile stares and the lecherous grins. How is this different from the Taliban mindset? The man in your life may not be The Hulk but having one next to you seems to discourage unwanted attention.)

Emotional Impact

  • Feeling of being more visible – being singled out, more negative attention, every behavior/action attributed to one’s single status
  • A sense of being more invisible – ignored at or not invited to social gatherings/outings if more people in the group are married
  • Displacement from family – younger cousins, married with children are quoted as examples by sad parents, parents don’t understand how someone can want to be single, a feeling of collective rejection from family and extended family – being blamed/made to feel guilty for not making marriage work
  • Self-doubt and confusion – rejection and isolation leading to feelings of uncertainty, disorientation, and demoralization.

Some possible ideas to deal with this

  • Find other singles to network with. If you are divorced, find other divorcees. Start a support group. Sometimes these groups lead to friendships, sometimes they don’t. Even if this doesn’t lead to friendship, a group can be helpful for advocacy reasons – it is easier to fight for the right to rent without being discriminated against, if many people are involved.
  • Remain committed to the few people who are supportive. Keep in touch, make time to keep the friendship going without withering.
  • Join online groups and forums to get help/ideas for specific problems as well as to feel connected.
  • Start a blog on the topic as a meeting point for ideas and support. If there is a blog that focuses on the issues of single people living in India, please share.
  • Divorce needs to be made as un-intimidating as possible, otherwise marriages become prisons.  Many women stay in unhappy marriages because there is insufficient legal information and emotional support for taking this simple step – of walking out of an unhappy situation.  Therefore, please share resources/websites for divorcees, especially legal resources that explain your rights, procedures, property and custody issues.

Are we better off?

In the past, the only people who remained single were women who “failed to get married”.  They remained in their brother’s or uncle’s or male cousin’s house (after parents were gone) and served the families that extracted work and threw scraps at them in return.  They were ostracized within the family and held as an example of what happens when we don’t pray, fast, or train for a good husband.

Now, most single people I know (who are in their 20s, 30s, and 40s) got there because they made a choice. They chose to stay single.  They chose to walk out of unhappy marriages.  They chose to be in a relationship with someone without marrying them.  Boy, haven’t we ( a minority perhaps) come a long, long way?  Even if their % is small, there are probably now more single men and women in their 30s and 40s than there were a generation ago.  What does it mean – the fact that this is the first generation that we have more single people than ever?

  • this indicates that a few more people are putting off marriage to a later age (in my generation, many women got married in their early 20s and men by their late 20s).
  • this could also mean that a few more people are choosing not to marry
  • more people are opting for divorce when faced with unhappy marriages
  • at least a few women are no longer worrying about their biological clocks – they can choose to adopt (if they want children later) or choose to be child free
  • more women are able to work and hold jobs that allow them to make a living, so being married is no longer the only way to survival
  • being single longer and marrying later makes marriages more level playing fields – women who have lived alone and managed finances are less likely to be enslaved, men who’ve lived independently are not mamma’s boys, can take care of themselves and are not looking for someone to cook and clean for them, both women and men know what they want in a relationship)

The fact that a few people are making the decision to remain single or get divorced despite the challenges listed above means that our mindset is changing – that freedom and choices are now more valued – that they are pursued at the cost of society’s approval, acceptance, and the need to belong.

If you are single, please share your experiences and challenges with being single/in a live in relationship/divorced in India, and how you cope with both the practical and emotional aspects, and especially what has helped. It would be great to hear from both women and men on this.

If you are married, would you be comfortable renting out your apartment to a single/divorced person, male or female, if they appear to be honest, reliable people and have proper paperwork?  Would you rent to an unmarried couple?  Do you have unmarried friends who are over 30 or do you make friends only with married people?  Do you invite single/divorced people to gatherings/celebrations in your building?  Why or why not? If the answer to any of these questions is no, please elaborate why you are uncomfortable or what’s getting in the way of your friendship/trust.

Advertisements

“This would help people realize that happy Indian families like this also exist.”

Sharing an email.

Hi IHM,

I’m not a blogger myself but i happened to chance upon your blog and trust me it got me hooked. I loved reading your posts and it felt like someone had put words to my thoughts.
What really disturbed be is that I also happened to read about so many instances where girls/daughter in laws are still being treated badly even in the so called “educated upper class society”. It is really sad. No matter how much we try and convince ourselves that our nation is developing, in reality its far from that. Real development should be measured by how much we as  citizens grow and evolve as human beings and not by the number of malls and technology.
Well while reading about the cruelty of society I thought I must share with you my story. Amongst all the stories about oppression maybe this would help people realize that families like this also exist.
I am 27 year old, recently married, advertising professional. My parents are both working. My mother was a teacher for the first 15 years of her professional life and then wanted to do something different with her life. She got an excellent offer from a leading media house. My brother was a year old and I was around 7 at that time, and it was a very difficult choice as media jobs usually come with erratic working hours. My paternal grandparents pushed her to take it up as they realized it meant a lot to her. They assured her that she need not worry about us as they were there to take care of us (they lived with us).
She eventually went on to love the job and grow and continue in the same field for many years and still does. My Grandfather was a man who believed that work is number one priority as that is what gets the food on the table and one should never compromise on demands at work place. This rule was not just meant for my father but also my mother and paternal aunt (my father’s sister, who is a school teacher, never married and also lived with us). There was never any discrimination between them. I have seen my grandmother stay up waiting for my mom when she worked late in the night, make sure her food was kept aside before we had dinner and serve her hot food when she came home tired. Please note that my grandmother didn’t study beyond school got married at 18 and lead a very simple life.
My grandfather passed away in 1998 and just a few days after this my mother had a huge event in office which she was coordinating. We Bengalis observe a 11 day mourning period and during these 11 days relatives and friends keep dropping in to visit and offer condolence. The fact that the daughter in law will not be present during this time was unheard of. But my grandmother put her foot down and insisted that my mother join office the very next day after my grandfather passed away and fulfill her duties there, she would manage the rest at home. My grandmother was one of the most progressive and open minded ladies I have seen of her time (she would have been 88 if she was alive) and I have learnt so much from her. I always maintain that the person I am today is entirely because of my grandparents, parents and aunt. I have never seen my grandparents lament about my aunt not getting married. She had her own reasons and they respected that, She has a stable job, a wide circle of friends, an active social life and happens to be one of my closest friends and second mother. She is single and very HAPPY.
My parents have always given my education and later my career a lot of importance. For me working was never a time pass till i got married or had kids. It is an integral part of life. My dad had always told me that no matter what, they would not even think of my marriage till I had a stable career and the ability be financially independent.
I consider myself lucky that I fell in love with and married a man who has been brought up with the same values. He respects me and my job (advertising and the long working hours that go with it is still looked down upon by many). His parents celebrate my achievements career wise and motivate me to achieve more. Never for once have I heard them criticize my job or the fact that I hardly see them throughout the week.
My husband and I live in an apartment (where my in laws stayed before shifting to a bigger house a few years back). The house is a 5 min walk from where my in laws live and is perfect for us. We get our privacy and we are still near enough to drop in whenever we want to. This was my mom in laws idea when we decided to get married. My husband is a great cook and is excellent in all house hold work and the onus for this goes to my in laws who have brought him up with such values. We share our responsibilities and give each other the space that is required in every marriage. Yes we have fights and life is not always rosy and smooth. But that is just part of life.
My husbands family and my family are financially at different levels. My parents are in service and his parents have a business. Yet never for once has this been an issue. In fact they are very good friends and love spending time together even when we are not around. That is because their values and outlook match.
I am sure there are many families like mine and I pray that one day all families and in laws would be like mine.
Thanks for the posts IHM. I love them and look forward to them every day now 🙂 do keep in touch.
– A happy, married and working Indian woman.
Related Posts:

“I am writing in my story to show that there is hope if we are just courageous enough to reach for it.”

Sharing an email.

Dear IHM,

Reading the last couple of e-mails posted on your blog is a bittersweet experience. Bitter – because of the sheer amount of crap that, we as Unmarried Independent Women of Indian Origin have to face. Sweet (well a little bit) – because at least there is hope for the future as we are (hopefully) a growing breed.

I want to share my story, both as a warning to not succumb to the immense pressure that is put on us and also because I truly believe it is worth forging our own path. I in no way speak for every Indian woman who has faced the insane pressure that is put on us, and I also recognise the many privileges that I enjoy – financial independence, physical distance from India, and parents who though living in India and under constant pressure are genuinely supportive for the most part.

I was born in India, and moved overseas in my late teens for university. I am now 29 years, and have lived overseas and independently for over 11 years now. When I was 24 years my parents began talking to me about my marriage (I do not say “getting me married off” as I do have wonderful parents and not once was it about them doing their duty alone). They asked me if I had anyone in mind and I did not at that point in time (they were open to the idea of “love marriage” – though I do think they were glad to note there was no one). Thus began the arranged marriage “meet-cute”. Looking back (hind-sight is 20/20), even though I knew instinctually that this was not the right path for me there were two reasons for my acquiescence – a) even though my parents never gave me the “our duty” speech it was there – a looming spectre over why my marriage was being though about in the first place, b) I had been single for a few years by then and wanted to meet someone and had very halcyon views on “happy ever after”.

To cut a long, familiar and much laboured over story short. I got married, there was abuse and I got divorced. Now through all of this my parents (especially my dad) have been my rock of support. Looking back at the scared 24 year old I was I can honestly say I don’t think I would have been able to walk away from my abuser if it wasn’t for my parent’s unflinching support. This I belabour only because the most depressing period each month for 2 years (yes that is how long the Indian system takes!) was the visit to the civil courts in India for my divorce hearing. My stomach turns even today two years after my last visit when I think about that place, and the many young women I saw there, (many on their own with no support) each month hoping for the justice that for many never came.

Today two years after my divorce has been finalised (I moved back overseas after my divorce was finalised) I am again hearing the marriage drum beat. This time around though the difference is that my parents have much thicker skins and are much more likely to tell people to F#$! Off! Don’t get me wrong they are not immune to the pressure that “Indian Society” places on parents of unmarried daughters. They are looking at proposals that they receive, but that all-encompassing fear that I will NEVER get married is not present. Today they can acknowledge (albeit not happily) that even if I NEVER get married it is NOT the end of my life and a happy, satisfied and full life can still be mine.  Today they are very comfortable telling people that their son is NOT good enough for me. Today they let people know that any consideration for marriage will only happen after a minimum of a year of me knowing the guy. Today they acknowledge that my no is a NO (not that I could not say no before but I better have had a damn good reason), and I don’t have to have a reason for it. Today lack of “connection” is not derided as a silly sentiment. I don’t say the above as some sort of “right way” to do the arranged marriage thing, I just state them to highlight that they now have no compunction STATING THEIR CONDITIONS.

However the most important differences I can see have been in me.

Over the last four years (over the course of my divorce proceedings and post it) I have dated a few guys, had sex with some of them and am currently single and “playing the field”. This I say because you know what, now I know what I want in/from a guy/relationship/sexually. I don’t have the idealised notion of coupledom in my head that I had at 24. I know the areas in which I am open to negotiation/adjustment/understanding, and more importantly I am absolutely sure about the areas in which I.will.not.budge.

I define my boundaries now, and I have met people who respect them. I have met/gone on dates with guys that have proven to me that there are some wonderful men out there and that just because they are wonderful does not mean they are right for me. And no I don’t have to have a reason as to why I will not date them. I have realised that I don’t need to provide a reason for my singledom to anyone. I don’t see any couples (and here I refer to heterosexual/cis-gender couples) having to provide a reason for why they are together, so why the hell should I!!

I can honestly say that when I was younger I didn’t think there was anything worse that could happen to me than divorce and rape (no I have not been raped). This I believe is largely a function of our “Indian mentality” that equates our worth (women) as human beings with our sexual organs, hymen and fecundity. When I think of the movies I grew up watching (and god knows that Bollywood has a stronghold on our collective Indian psyche), the women who were raped/divorced deserved it (as they were “bad girls”) or it was a sacrifice that they made at the altar of family (brother/husband/son/father) honour. And once said sacrifice was done they had fulfilled their purpose in life and could die (kill themselves). Today I know that I am NOT defined by my marital status or by what some physically stronger than me pervert chooses to do with the organ between his legs. Today I have no words for the craziness of my thinking back then. I can only shake my head in awe of my stupidity.

I have always been frank and honest with my parents and am completely open now with regard to my view (extremely dim) on the arranged marriage system. They realise that I will never marry anyone through that system, because I have told them that bluntly. However I have no control on their choice to not rebuff every proposal that comes their way, I just don’t participate. They are aware that I date men here and are open to the idea of me being with someone who is not Indian.

Most importantly though I have learnt to SET BOUNDARIES with my parents. This I think is an area that I (and I generalise – most Indian kids) fail in abysmally. No, not telling my mother every little thing I am doing is not me being a bad child. It’s being an adult!! I don’t need to tell my parents all the details of my life. They do not need to know if I am kinda sorta dating anyone. They do not need to know about the guy I dated for 3 months and then decided to amicably split with. Why…because if they do the kind of pressure that puts on you to make something work that just isn’t working is immense. Not talking about certain areas of your life that they quite frankly do not get to have an opinion about does not make you an ungrateful child, it make you a fully functioning adult.

I want to state clearly that I do not blame my parents for my marriage or my divorce. I think there is an expiry date on that particular get out of jail free card and it expires when you have the independence (financial/educational) and awareness to make your own choices. I do not even blame that silly 24 year old that I was, I can just look back and go WTF was I thinking! If anything I blame the thought system in which I grew up where a wedding was seen as this ultimate prize to be aimed for and where there was no second place, it was get a ring/mangal-sutra or go home (ideally find a corner to wallow in and never show your face in ‘polite’ company again).

Today I am looking to find love, companionship. Here I don’t talk about marriage/relationship or the nothing dichotomy that exists. I talk about that ephemeral human connection that we all need and hope for. I am never going to give myself permission to cut off that hope. I look for that but I am under no illusion today that I in any way am entitled to it. Yes, I deserve love but no I am NOT entitled to it. All I can do is live my life with all that I have and play the cards I have been given.

I chose to write in to IHM and request (hope) that she publishes my letter, because too often the encouragement we hear are from women who have forged their own path and found love/relationship telling us that there is hope. And while that is very important to hear, I do believe that there is joy, hope and a happy life when we haven’t found love as yet (if that is what you are looking for).

We also hear from single women who are our companions on this journey and they tell us to stay strong but don’t necessarily tell us that we all at some point feel that it would be nice to have someone to share a drink with, someone who gets our silly jokes. There is a deep seated dogma that we need to be constantly on the up to prove that even single people can have happy full life’s. I certainly don’t see couples looking like they stepped out of the centrefold of Home & Garden constantly, so why the hell should I somehow have to prove the worth of my single life!! Yes there will be days when you wonder when it will be your turn to find love (again if that is what you are looking for), but there will also be days that you will look at your life and stare at the sheer wonder of it.

For all the women who have written in before me that prompted me to share my story I say most importantly prioritise yourself…make yourself happy. Meeting people should not be a chore; going on dates should be fun, and if you don’t want to meet anyone you damn well should not have to provide an explanation why!! Go out on dates, don’t go out on dates, make new friends, remove the ones that drag you down, cut people off that have no respect for you, your life and your choices, learn something new, sit at home for the full weekend in your PJ’s looking at cute dog pics, do whatever it takes to make yourself happy. You deserve that!!

I wish all of you love, light and peace.

D

An email: So my chances of finding a groom through the arranged marriage system seem very-very bleak…

Sharing an email.

Indian parents seem to face constant ‘peer pressure’ to parent in they ways that their great grandparents’ and their neighbours did. This often makes it difficult for them to let their children make sensible choices. What would be your advice to A Woman with a Flaw? 

Dear IHM,

I have been reading your blog for some time now, though I have never left a comment. Your blog-posts encouraged me to write my story and I will be grateful if I can get your/ your readers’ opinion on the confusion I am going through…here goes my story:

 I am a 29-yr old single female, living with my parents. I work with an MNC in NCR. I have an elder sis, she is married, stays/settled in US – both she & my BIL work and I have a cute nephew who is 4 now.

I will talk about myself a bit; I will go point-by-point (& have tried to be chronological):

–          I have a rare congenital i.e., by birth syndrome (though its occurrence is random, overall it affects 0.03% of the population) which could have been a lot worse given what all people can have and they go through if they have this syndrome BUT for me it means the following – I have an eye disease for which I regularly use eye medicine(s), have to go for eye check-up once every quarter, have had quite a few eye surgeries till date though for the past 10 years or so my eye-condition has been stable and the check-ups have become more like a “ek baar aa kar dikhaa dena” routine. Though I am lucky I can use my eyes for pretty much everything, I work …I drive…..Even after having a pretty fucked-up eye-related incident (I almost lost vision of my right eye just 2 months before my board exams but I persisted and gave my exams that year & ended-up with a decent score and  admission in a good DU college) when I was in 12th. In a sense, I have been lucky… I could have fared a lot worse as I could have had developmental/ growth issues coz of this syndrome.

–          I have had a serious relationship with a guy about two years back, we worked in the same company then. We were in a relationship for close to two years, we had thought of getting married …and almost when the time came, he chickened out!! …. You may be wondering that he suddenly got to know about my eye problem but hell no, he knew about it from the beginning, I never hid anything from him, he knew all about what I went through when I was in 12th and my quarterly visits to the eye-specialist …and he was okay with it, we have had our discussions around it. I wanted to be sure that we both know what we are getting into. ……..But almost when we had decided to go further ahead in the relationship…..I don’t know what happened..??? He just couldn’t talk to his parents, he didn’t even say he will be (or, will not be) able to convince his parents…. we are from different communities too. All I know is he backed out, when I needed him……..I was broken and shattered ….but I guess life goes on, I just couldn’t bear to see his face everyday (we worked in the same team) and I left that company and found another job and Life went on. My family knows about it and we haven’t been in touch after that.

–          Last year, I went to US for a few months, I met a guy there (not Indian) ….we were on the same project, same company. He seemed to be a nice guy and we did talk a lot …almost on anything other than work. And one day it happened, we slept together (and a few times after that) ….there were no talks about a serious relationship either from his or my side….or anything like taking it forward etc. We knew it was casual and when our trip came to an end we both went our ways….no talks of will try to keep in touch or let’s meet again or anything.

I told my sister about this. She went hyper and was furious !!………I told her I am an adult and I know what I am doing. My parent don’t know & thank god for that.

–          I have loved investing. I always somehow had this feeling that I need to work to earn, I incur my own expenses & try to contribute in common household expenses too. I have this feeling that even if I get married some day or especially after I have kids (if I have any, that is) I will ever stop working…..I love the feeling of independence (& the associated perks) my job provides me, its like my identity…I think I will NEVER stop working at least not until I have saved enough for my post-retirement days.

–          I have my own car & I an investing in a house, which is taking a huge financial toll on me……I have taken a home loan for it & may also require a additional interest-free loan from my parents to fund my house (which they are ever willing to give 🙂 ….I have told them I will repay them even if it takes me 20 years…..

–          One more thing, we are two sisters, no brother…but our parents brought us up I think in the most gender-neutral environment they could have…..no talks of if we had a son, (agar beta hota toh) and even no talks of tum mere liye kisi bete se kam nahi ho (you are no less than a son to me)…………we were respected & treated for who we are – Two Individuals……… & yes, I have tremendous respect for my parents; I don’t think I would have been able to achieve half of what I have, if they were not there.

After all this rambling, I will come to the issue…..as all parents, my parents would also like to see me settle down (aka see me married)….now the problem is I haven’t been able to find “The Elusive One” for me….atleast not till now………. and, if I go by the arranged marriage system (all the damn matrimony sites…) the talks don’t proceed any further coz of (you guessed it right!!) my Eye Problem, after all who would want such a DIL for their son ??…..So my chances of finding a groom through the arranged marriage system seems very-very bleak…..I am not against marriage but I do believe I will hold out for the right guy …..As much as I would want to get married, I don’t think I will get married to any random guy just for the heck of getting married

My mother has taken the societal pressure (of me not married, in a community where the right age for girls to get married is 24-25 and if you cross that well only god can help you…..) pretty well till now, till I recently turned 29 !!………………BUT now, she is going all hyper, she is almost ready to fix me up with any guy (her minimun criteria seems to be – the person should have XY chromosomes)…………..the other day, my mother almost uttered If you were a boy, you wouldn’t have faced all this, I don’t know what to believe but she does seem to have a very valid logic here, isn’t it how the Indian society functions ??

I have tried to reason out things with my otherwise logical mom…..but it seems to be a losing proposition these days…………as she sees my younger cousins being engulfed by matrimony one-by-one !! and my generally by-my-side dad also have started seeing ‘some’ streaks of logic in her argument of getting me married ASAP. Though, thankfully my dad understands my side of the story too…….but for how long, I am not sure?? My sister  supports me on this, if she had her will, I would have been in US staying with her and living life on my own terms….without any societal pressure.

I have thought of finding another job out of NCR and staying on my own but financially I can’t afford it right now L …unless I give up on my dream of having my own house.

It’s not like staying with parents has become a hell for me…..it sure has become a lot more difficult. I don’t understand how a simple topic about house can become a discussion-point about my matrimony……. E.g, ghar toh khareed rahi hai, gharwaala bhi toh hona chahiye ! I can only say, a few of my friends are still single so I am able to show them some examples that I am not the only one J……but then in the heat of the argument the comparison sets in, THEY are NORMAL, YOU are NOT.

What does the future hold for me ??……… I don’t know. Am I expecting too much out of a society which anyway considers that the only appropriate thing for a girl is to get married (And only then she will be considered happy & settled) but what if the girl is not perfect, has some “flaw” like me…..

Somebody, my parents went to with my rishta for their son, suggested, to my parents, “why don’t you get your daughter married to a divorcee/widower”. My parents felt insulted and were furious……………trust me, I have no problem in getting married to such a person if I like him, I will go ahead with the relationship…..but is it the only option left for me given my “flaw” because by this logic then I become a less-worthy person who should be happy with whatever she manages to get…….isse aur kaun shaadi karega-types (who will marry her anyway ??) , in a society which more often than not want their DILs to look like porcelain dolls…….

I have never been so confused, felt so helpless in my life before……Not even when I had almost lost my vision in my right eye just two months before my board exams or when I broke up with the only guy I ever loved with so much intensity, ….it was a trying time for my family but we stood together. Do I have a chance of getting married to a person of my choice or, my optimism is just a dream & all hogwash and the reality is very dark and very different, very different for a girl with a FLAW……..one like me.

From,

A Woman with a Flaw

Related post:

Physical Disability and Arranged Marriages.

Yes I am single so? – Nirjharani

Why marry? – Careless Chronicles

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.

Regards,
Ria


Some happy relationship rules. Add yours?

These rules make even more sense after the last three posts.

  1. If a man wants you, nothing can keep him away. If he doesn’t want you, nothing can make him stay.
  2. Stop making excuses for a man and his behavior.
  3. Allow your intuition (or spirit) to save you from heartache.
  4. Stop trying to change yourself for a relationship that’s not meant to be.
  5. Slower is better.
  6. Never live your life for a man before you find what makes you truly happy.
  7. If a relationship ends because the man was not treating you as you deserve then heck no, you can’t “be friends”. A friend wouldn’t mistreat a friend. Don’t settle.
  8. If you feel like he is stringing you along, then he probably is.
  9. Don’t stay because you think “it will get better.” You’ll be mad at yourself a year later for staying when things are not better.
  10. The only person you can control in a relationship is you.
  11. Avoid men who’ve got a bunch of children by a bunch of different women. He didn’t marry them when he got them pregnant, why would he treat you any differently?
  12. Always have your own set of friends separate from his.
  13. Maintain boundaries in how a guy treats you.
  14. If something bothers you, speak up.
  15. Never let a man know everything. He will use it against you later.
  16. You cannot change a man’s behavior. Change comes from within.
  17. Don’t EVER make him feel he is more important than you are…even if he has more education or in a better job.
  18. Do not make him into a quasi-god. He is a man, nothing more nothing less.
  19. Never let a man define who you are.
  20. Never borrow someone else’s man.
  21. If he cheated with you, he’ll cheat on you.
  22. A man will only treat you the way you ALLOW him to treat you.
  23. You should not be the one doing all the bending…compromise is a two way street.
  24. You need time to heal between relationships…there is nothing cute about baggage… Deal with your issues before pursuing a new relationship.
  25. You should never look for someone to COMPLETE you… a relationship consists of two WHOLE individuals… look for someone complimentary…not supplementary.
  26. Dating is fun …even if he doesn’t turn out to be Mr. Right.
  27. Make him miss you sometimes… when a man always know where you are, and you’re always readily available to him – he takes it for granted.
  28. Never move into his mother’s house.
  29. Never co-sign for a man.
  30. Don’t fully commit to a man who doesn’t give you everything that you need.
  31. Keep him in your radar but get to know others.

This is said to have been written by Oprah in her book (Not sure though). Thanks for sharing Ashwathy!

Guardian’s attempt to stop woman from marrying genuine suitor a crime …soon.

A news article says that one in every 16 women above 32 in Saudi Arabia is  forced to stay unmarried.

“There are a variety of reasons behind this phenomenon including unemployment, a housing shortage and obsolete social traditions.

Al-Fouzan urged men to find wives closer to their age. “This would help reduce the number of unmarried women,” he said. [Link, “Four Million single women in Saudi Arabia by 2015“]

A group of young Saudi men have launched a campaign to convince Saudi men of the unappreciated virtues of polygamy.

Eman Al Nafjan, a Saudi blogger who often writes about women’s issues, said…

“… they want to convince the men to marry older women… The men want virgins, not older women or divorcees. The problem is that we have a lot of women in their late 20s or 30s who are not married and which men are not interested in, while the young ladies don’t want to be the second wife as their first marriage.”

Saudi men see polygamy as their right and prefer to marry young girls. Dowry – given by the husband to the bride’s father, makes it easier for richer, often older men to marry young women. Girls are often forced into such marriages.

Some academics are suggesting that suicide, especially among the young, is increasing. “…80 percent of these cases involved girls or young women. Causes included domestic abuse, favoritism expressed by parents toward male siblings, forced marriage and preventing marriage…”

The HRC is also seeking to include forced marriage as a human trafficking crime. A common motive for forced marriage is a father’s attempt to strengthen bonds between families or friends, often in exchange for a dowry that the father steals from his daughter.

*
In some cases women, especially employed women, are prevented from getting married by their fathers, who deny them permission, out of concern of losing the household income. From the comments that follow this article it seems girls supporting their families is appreciated although Saudi girls are not allowed to drive and they can’t buy a car with their hard earned money, without a male guardian’s permission.
Once married whatever they earn, they might have to hand over to their husband who might otherwise ‘boot’ them out of their home. [link]
*
*

“…the rising number of Saudi men marrying non-Saudi women is also contributing to the rise of single Saudi women.” Under current Saudi rules, Saudi women are not allowed to marry foreign men unless under exceptional circumstances. (This too is likely to change).

“…more and more young Saudi women are well educated, financially independent and exposed to different ways of thinking about themselves, relationships and their roles in society… this leads many young Saudi women to refuse the advances of men seeking to take a second, third or fourth wife.

Some women seek out foreign men, in the hopes that they will not end up in a polygamous marriage.

*

All Saudi women are not unaware of injustice in the situation, they do object, question, and even write about it. Are young men finding ways to rebel too?

Last month, the HRC announced its effort to include the crime of adhl in the Kingdom’s official definition of human trafficking, which would codify a punishment of up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to SR1 million to any guardian found guilty of preventing a woman’s right to marry a man otherwise deemed acceptable by Shariah.

Along with these changes, would it not be simpler if everybody had control over their own income? And some day, also over their own lives?