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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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