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The view from here

“Smart,qualified, witty, employed young women, extrovert, party animals – in short “eligible” in every sense but unmarried. Reason: they haven’t come across the “right” man yet. Are their expectations very high? Do they want the looks of a Brad Pitt and the qualities of a Darcy and the wealth of Bill Gates preferably with the voice of Amitabh Bachchan and the poetry of Neruda? Not really. They just want a man

So I asked one of them if they mean to say that they haven’t found any like that among all the men they meet. She said that she hasn’t actually had the opportunity to find out because none of the meetings has proceeded beyond meeting at parties and she doesn’t want to make the first move and sound desperate unless she is sure that the other person has some interest in her! And I have a suspicion that the men are not making the first move precisely for the same reason. So you meet them everywhere – young, smart, qualified… eligible in every sense but unmarried!”

Usha wrote this interesting piece on her blog recently, a result of several conversations we’ve had on the topic. And instead of a comment, this I thought deserves a whole new post. Or my perspective: the view from where I’m standing!

Usha’s often asked me whether it’s more difficult for us (read, in her opinion: single, eligible, extrovert women) to find “someone” these days. The reason for her asking is that she finds there are quite a few of us ‘seemingly’ eligible women, who lead reasonably active social lives but somehow have not managed to find these “special someones”.

Why, asks Usha, who’s always curious about life and its ways.

Is it because women nowadays are too independent? Or that your ability to compromise has become lesser and you’re less willing to adjust?

When I look around, I do notice a growing number of friends who are doing quite okay on their own, despite being past what is the acceptable marriageable age (I have no idea what it is today though, but I suspect it hasn’t changed much through the ages!). However, in most cases, it’s not because they don’t want to get married. But by some twist of fate, they are yet to find the right man. So that leaves Usha wondering if it’s really so difficult to find the right person.

And more importantly, wondering whether our definitions of the right person have changed.

It’s actually a question that is of some consternation to me too. Firstly, I think most of us are realistic enough to realize that there is no such thing as a perfect man or woman. You try and build a relationship that will be close to what you want. Not perfection definitely. But to achieve that you’d need someone on the same wavelength, who shares at least some of your own interests and yes, most definitely would want to spend time doing things with you.

Is it so hard to find such a person? Is it getting harder these days? It definitely seems to be. Despite leading busy lives where you do encounter a lot of interesting people on a weekly (if not daily) regular basis, and also a multitude of opportunities including online forums to find people, the task has not become easier. But why, I am yet to figure out.

Are our standards higher? Are we more ambitious?

“Do they want the looks of a Brad Pitt and the qualities of a Darcy and the wealth of Bill Gates preferably with the voice of Amitabh Bachchan and the poetry of Neruda?” asks Usha.

No, I don’t think so at all. We have pretty much the same standards but what has changed over time are our expectations. Today, the man is not supposed to be a provider but a friend / lover / companion and an equal partner in everything.

As Usha points out also in her post, this is not necessarily the case with men. They traditionally still look for a girl like mom, who will cook, clean and keep house and look good on their arms. Which is not to say again that men aren’t changing either. But this change is definitely not happening at the same pace as it is happening amongst women. The result? A lot of single “eligible” women, who are still looking.

Are we too independent? I would consider myself independent. But what is too independent? I would obviously love to share some of my errands and daily necessary chores with someone else. Just the mundane-ness of everyday life gets a little more pleasant when you can share some of it. I would love to depend on someone else for a change and not be making all the decisions myself (and share the repercussions with someone also!). But until that happens, I have to do it on my own. I don’t think we have a choice in this regard but to be independent.

But in a larger context, I don’t really see “being independent” as a deterrant to a relationship. But in amidst this independence, there has to be some inter-dependence.

A friend said something really interesting the other day. He said that one needs to go from dependence to independence and then to inter-dependence and the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. That journey to reach a state of inter-dependence forms an important part in our relationships and to achieve that state in a mutually satisfying manner is quite a challenge. Sometime, you never quite get there.

Are we less ready to compromise? I think this to some extent is true. We definitely are less willing to take the rap for things that we know we don’t deserve. We no longer need to be afraid of having nowhere to go or no one to turn to in a thwarted relationship. Or tolerate things that we shouldn’t have to just because it’s expected.

But what I’ve noticed these days is also an increase in the number of women who like being alone and are quite comfortable with the idea of not having a man or another person in their lives just for the sake of it. It’s no longer a given that you need a man or a family because it’s the acceptable thing to do. So it wouldn’t be totally surprising to bump into what you’d consider “eligible” women who are simply not interested in tying the proverbial knot. Alternative lifestyles are just as accepted, albeit slowly, but there has definitely been a change in the way people view these things nowadays.

Meanwhile, I come back to the most basic of questions: where are the (eligible) men?! 🙂

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9 Comments

  1. Hey thanks for satisfying my curiosity on this count – I am not only curious but actually a bit perplexed at the situation because I find all these unmarried people of both sexes wonderful as people and as individuals. How come two nice people have difficulty being married – that is what bothers me. Or is it that the individualism is valued so highly even after marriage that there isn’t much of give and take?
    But what worries me is the KANK kind of philosophy where people say that if we find something better outside what we have we want to break up and go for it. Is it why people are unwilling to commit as it may close doors on choices? Now somewhere or other should people not be willing to say “This is the best choice I made when I had the choice and now I will give it my best and make it work?” Or am I antiquated in my thinking.
    Meanwhile I still cant get over the fact that people haven’t found you “eligible” yet – I’d have imagined a queue as long as the one outside the US consulate!Are all the men blind?

  2. How is a man to know whether the woman is interested? 🙂

    I wrote a post called “The Sale”. The post isn’t what it appears to be- look at it from a single man’s point of view.

  3. @ usha: yes, it’s is a rather perplexing situation that i’ve come across personally also where the individuals are wonderful people on their own, but still can’t make it work together. Individuality is definitely valued very highly. But I’m not sure whether we’ve becoming more inflexible when it comes to give and take in a relationship. I most seriously hope that is not the case! I would tend to agree that people take much longer to decide and are probably more cautious before making choices today. You’re definitely not antiquated in your thinking. But these aspects of life are changing today and along with it our attitudes also.

    As far as the queues go, thanks Usha for the vote of confidence ;)!! I will definitely let you know when I see it. Hehe!

    @ hyde: I think a woman would definitely give some kind of a signal if she wanted the man to know 🙂

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  5. smallsquirrel says

    Good post, Anita!I think you raise a lot of important and interesting points. What I see here is what I saw in the 80’s and 90’s in the US. Women here are starting to realize that no matter what their families tell them, they do not need a man to help define them. Now, no one is saying that having a fulfilling relationship is unwanted, it’s just that women are realizing that they do not need a man to complete them. And because of that realization, we are much much less likley to settle for a man that doesn’t meet our (newly updated) standards.

    No longer is it enough for the man to simply have a job, be a good earner and look OK. We want someone who matches us intellectually, who has some sense of himself, who can contribute emotionally… and WANTS TO! Is this being too picky? Hell no! We’ve all seen the misery of aunts or friends or perhaps our own mothers suffer thru things that did not really fit. They did it out of necessity. And luckily we have different choices.

    Independence is good. If you cannot take care of yourself, what good are you to another? We must be whole in order to be functional in a relationship. Independance is sometimes not fun, but it is a necessity.

    Are some people too choosy? Maybe they are. Who is to tell. I married late by all standards (Indian and US) because until I met my husband I was not comfortable with the options I had. My parents thought I was being ridiculous and too choosy. I think I had every right to wait until I was sure.

    What I learned is that it is much better to be alone than in the wrong relationship. If you do not value yourself, you cannot expect others to follow suit.

  6. Anita, a nice, thoughtful post. straight up, inquisitive and non-judgemental as always. and my first comment here 🙂

    Im not sure if choosing to remain single is just about ‘marriage’. I often see that the age of lomg meaningful relationships too is passe’. I have consistently seen the average age of an ‘unmarried’ reln slipping from say an average of about 2 years to something as short as 3-4 months in the last 2-3 years. Has happened to me and has happened to SO many of my friends. And these aren’t just flings, but meaninful relationships with a strong emotional content too. One reason is definitely the social changes and stuff related to women. another would be the fact that most men too (the ones to whom this would apply – single, 28-35 yrs, climbing up well, making good money) have grown beyond their thinking of their 20-25 yr time. men in this bracket have already seen there done that. most have had their share of varied relationships and have come to expect a lot more from a woman than just a pretty face and hot body. so now both men and women want not just physical and emotional attraction but also a host of other things like common likes, similar friends, similar lifestyle..yada yada. In my opinion, at the end of the day, these times are just a function of the age, the life experiences, cynicism and lack of trust in others. if you kinda think about the age of ‘these’ singles – i bet the number of them under 28 yrs could be counted within half the fingers on a hand.

    After a a certain age, single men and women come across a lot of similar singles, but no one trusts the other one as in – oh he isn’t really looking for commitment, oh she isn’t looking to settle down. And then problems of all the past baggage, and looking back. And also the inability to like really really get interested in someone – you know THAT interest that makes one pursue and pursue. And then scares of ruining friendships through romance. and most would be commitment phobes. I mean look at it this way, some one who was predisposed towards commitment, would have already committed earlier than reach a 30 years, right? :)So all in all, you have a whole bunch of eligible people who are all so good together and none of them seem to be getting hitched. Oh well, so goes on life. lets see what the esteemed vatal nagaraj has in store for us the next few days in Bangalore :).

    ciao
    Amit

  7. Here after so long! Your blog in particular is blocked at work :p.

    And I can so so so identify with this topic! Where are the good eligible men, please tell me. Everyone I meet, either gets intimidated or is not interested in something like “lasting commitment”. And these days, people are so short of time that they dont even want to explore the possibilities of a relationship – they would rather stick to their inertia laden lives.

  8. R.A. Levin says

    This sort of ties in with the age old canard/query: “What do Women Want?” It’s kind of an odd question.
    If you’re using the word Women, to describe some sort of monolithic social group who all think exactly alike and all come from identical cultures, you’ll never get an answer. Chances are, if you’re male and you do get “The Answer” it will be the one you didn’t want.
    I’m a perpetual Batchelor, who would be impossible to live with at this point. Too set in my ways and perhaps a bit too much like Homer Simpson minus the Beer.
    I could go the route of the Personal Advert. (Just for research purposes, naturally!)Pudgy impoverished teatotal vegetarian dude, 42 y.o.a., who likes roaming the living room in his ‘Y’ Fronts. Burps uncontrollably after every meal and has an opinion about everything, seeks incredibly artificial looking wealthy supermodel. Only replies with pic. will be honoured.
    A few days later………”Hmmm.More spam…..Another Fellow from Nigeria asking me for some help in re-directing his funds from his bank account to mine….and “Re: If you like Pina Coladas/Re: Your personal ad.” It’s got an attachment so this one has got to be serious!
    I’ll be shallow and open that bit first. She’s got blue hair?! Why does the name Midge sound so familiar? Something’s rotten in Springfield!”

  9. jessica: that’s a really interesting perspective. and i whole heartedly agree with the fact that “women are realizing (more and more) that they do not need a man to complete them.”

    amit: thanks for your first comment here 🙂
    I often see that the age of long meaningful relationships too is passé. – It might increasingly be the trend, but I hope this is just a passing phase! and i would agree with the fact that the baggage does come into the way and act as a deterrent once you’re older!

    twilight: nice to see you here after ages too!! why are they blocking me? I am a nice person, please tell them!

    exactly the point we come down to eventually! where are they? 🙂

    r a levin: i don’t think there are any answers either. probably some trends of the way life is going that has to be accepted and dealt with! and btw, by your description, there’s definitely no hope for you 😉

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