Still single, are you?

Still single, are you?

A girl can’t stay single for too long in our country. And if she does, people assume there must be something wrong with her. But being single isn’t such a bad thing, writes Pooja Mahesh.

You know your days as a single woman are numbered when your grandmother berates your parents for not taking any serious, active steps towards finding a suitable groom for you. “You must get her married quickly. She’s getting older,” my grandma lamented. This, despite the fact that I am still relatively young.

In our country, all single girls are made to believe that marriage is the secret of
ultimate happiness. “It’s clichéd in a sense. What’s important is that one is happy from within,” opines Meera Rao, a high school teacher. They are many who echo Meera’s sentiments, especially women.

Staying single has never been an attractive proposition for Indian women as the society always looks at her worth through her marital status. “In India, once a girl has reached a ‘marriageable age’, the societal norms dictate that she is married off in order to maintain a respectable status,” says Dr Vinayaprabha Baligar, a psychotherapist.

The ubiquitous phrase ‘log kya kahenge’ has ruined many ambitions and lives of the fairer sex. Somehow, the idea of a single girl leading her life on her own terms doesn’t quite fit into the society’s idea of a happy life. If you are a single woman and have attended weddings in your family, you know how almost everyone hounds you with the ‘marriage talk’. I am sure every single girl has heard this catchphrase atleast twice in every wedding — ‘You are next’.

“Until a generation or two ago, unless a woman was a wife or a mother, there was no other obvious value that could be ascribed to her. If there was no value, then there was no protection either. There were few other roles and spaces open to her that could lead to a fulfilling and secure existence,” explains Manju Sapru, a counsellor.

Sometimes, the constant nagging and unsolicited advice, along with numerous marriage proposals makes folks at home second guess the girl’s relationship status. Having just come out of a long-term relationship, Priya Shridhar has an uneasy feeling everytime she gets a wedding invite. “When I hear someone is getting married, I feel that could have been me at this point in time. But marriage is a personal choice and something that
cannot be rushed into,” she adds.

The right time
So, is there really a perfect time or age to get married? “An ideal time would be when there is a genuine need for companionship and a growing urge to put down roots and start a family. Some might see this as a need at a much earlier age and some later,” says Manju.

Ultimately, how ready you are is the most important factor that decides when the time is right to get into matrimony. Are you mentally and emotionally equipped to take on the many responsibilities that marriage entails? There are so many factors that one needs to consider before tying the knot, as it involves another person and his/her life and family too.

“You can decide to move somewhere by a certain age or save up a certain amount of money to buy a house or a car in the future. But you can’t decide ahead of time exactly when you will marry, have a child or make a certain amount of money,” writes Lisa Bonos in her aptly titledWashington Post article, ‘The best age to marry is when you meet the right person’.

It’s important to know what you are looking for, what your priorities are and where you want to be. Once you have defined these and have fully understood them, stick to it and let people know.

“First, figure out what you want and don’t jump into anything (just because people want you to). You have to be able to stand on your own two feet and be financially secure before marriage,” advises Nivedita Simons, a client servicing professional. 

There seems to be a transformation of sorts as more and more women are choosing to remain single today. But being single doesn’t necessarily mean that you should be at odds with yourself and worry that you aren’t getting married anytime soon. Marriage shouldn’t be seen as the ultimate  goal or one’s sole purpose in life.

Don’t just look at weddings as a reminder that everyone in your life is
getting married and wonder when yours might be. Just as Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw puts it, “Being single used to mean that nobody wanted you. Now it means you’re pretty sexy and you’re taking your time deciding how you want your life to be and who you want to spend it with.” Manju adds, “It is also important to remember that certain values and customs which might have had resonance in another social milieu and age are no longer necessarily applicable today.”

Nothing ‘evil’ about it
Also, being single isn’t as ‘evil’ as it is purported to be. In fact, it allows one to figure out who they are, what they need and if they have any ambitions, how best to achieve them. At the same time, it also allows them to become financially secure. However, despite looking at it as a time to concentrate on oneself, there are some who consider it otherwise.

“The questions about marriage keep reminding you about your age and your singlehood,” says Namita Gopal, a media professional. So, how does she dodge the questions? “I just pick a random year like 2017. This usually prevents any further queries,” she reveals.
Today, there are multiple opportunities for single women to help them lead
enriching, creative and productive lives. It’s not the end of the world if you aren’t ready for marriage when people think otherwise. It’s the question of your life, after all. Take your time and choose well.

Whatever your decision may be, it is important to be happy and feel secure
before plunging into anything that can be considered ‘life changing’. In the end, don’t let yourself be defined by other people’s perceptions.

So, when you are at a wedding the next time, remember that you’re there to
support and celebrate your loved one’s big day. Make it a point to enjoy yourself and don’t let negative thoughts or other people’s nasty comments ruin the happy
occasion for you.

(Some names have been changed on request)

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