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Out On Singles Town

Out On Singles Town

Something interesting that happened to me in 2014 was meeting two different guys and deciding NOT to pursue relationships with them. I remember an Ally McBeal episode (does anybody even remember that show?) where she says,

“I don’t actually date, not for the fun of it. I audition potential husbands and if I don’t see any potential, I don’t waste my time.”

This is what I spent my 20s doing. I may have missed out on a few good men but I definitely missed a whole lot of fun. Fun, dating should be that. It’s about meeting a new person, about getting to know them, doing fun things with them and maybe chasing a dream of something nicer. I enjoy all of those things. The trouble with this husband-audition business is that it becomes too much like a work goal and when that happens, fun is the first one to exit the door.

This is not about random hook-ups. I am not that person. As far as I’m concerned there is nothing random about my interest. I value my time and mindspace so why would I want to throw it away on people who actively do not want to matter? The real fun of people is when they are being people with their unrealistic hopes, their politically incorrect desires, their lovable vulnerabilities and their unpredictable flaws. I’m looking for people to experience, not cucumbers.

I’ve done the girlfriending thing several times over and the till-death-do-us-part style partner once (and that probably was ENOUGH). Being the female half of a comitted couple is not fun. It’s about having to put yourself and your relationship into limited roles and explanations that everyone feels able to digest. In my experience, it has been about stifling boredom and disappointment, pretending public approval is enough to make up for squelched fantasies, dealing with neglect and taking-for-granted, trying to live up to ideals of Independent Fabulous Perfect Indian Woman and never pleasing anybody else. Oneself? Ha! Where is there space for me? Nobody wants to know that there is a ME under all those roles and restrictions.

Complaints aside, maybe there is a solution. After I hit 30 and especially after my engagement ended, the pressure to commit to one man has eased. This does have a lot to do with most of those pressuremongers giving up on me. Their snide comments have not just dropped, I’ve become invisible to them. That’s okay. Because beyond their judgemental, oppressive gazes, there is a whole world beyond.

This world is called Singles Town. It’s got good health and glowing skin from waking up early after a good night’s sleep. It’s got turning in early or spending a weekend tucked away with a book. It’s also got daring makeup, on-the-whim clothing and shopping sprees with girlfriends. And yes, it has men. Men who find their attention captivated, who want to have conversations, who want to impress, who want to hear what I’m saying.

These are not bad men. They are not even necessarily the kind of limited men I’ve dated before. They are intelligent, independent, smart and fun. When I stopped mentally measuring their appropriateness, their compatibility with me, their fit with my social circle and a million other things, I discovered how much fun they could be. 2014 has been a year of some very, very fun dates and conversations that went nowhere. And so what? They were fun.

Of the two men, one of them turned mean and the other went flaky after I said thank you but no thank you. Well, they were only human. I think it would have been a lot harder for me to accept these flaws in them, if I had started off thinking of them as potential longterm partners. Instead, because I approached each one just as a new person, it felt a lot easier to let them grow into who they would be in my life. This is such a new notion for me! I didn’t even realise I had the ability to not jump at a man offering commitment, as if he were my last chance at a happy life. To any of you who think I deserve your pity, ask yourself if you feel you would be able to do that? Hmm, I thought so. Well, saying NO to what might have been everlasting happiness, because I want to see if there are other kinds of happiness — that’s a kind of freedom that’s worth more to me.

Yes, I have to worry about my own safety each time I’m out. Yes, I don’t have anyone to care about my health and well-being (well, come to think of it, none of the men I dated ever did, even while I was with them; most Indian men, not trained to think about someone other than themselves, I think). Yes, I don’t know what the future holds for me. But you know what? I wouldn’t know what it did, even if I were in a committed relationship. People lie, they fall out of love, they weaken, they cheat, they die. All kinds of things happen that a commitment cannot insure you from. I’d rather not live my life under a mushroom, fearing storms and floods.

MeMaybe I will regret this. But I don’t think so. I see no point in regretting doing something that seemed like a good idea at the time. That’s the only reason I don’t regret sticking to the straight and narrow through my 20s. That’s what appeared to make sense then. Life is such a mixed bag of tricks coming at you, there isn’t much sense you can make of it, except post facto anyway.

Commitment in all the forms I see around me is limiting. I haven’t yet gotten to a place where I can envision a comittment model that gives me the same inspiration, freedom and joy about the next minute, that being solo does. And what’s more, I know even if it exists, it will need a lot of work and effort to build and sustain. I think I’ve worked really hard for all my adult life at this and I deserve a break.

2015, Singles Town, here I come!

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The ‘We’ Relationship – Best Couple Friends

There’s a couple we have gotten close to. Yes, that’s a ‘we’ sentence because this is a ‘we’ friendship.

Xion is an old colleague and friend. When he started a relationship, we went out to dinner talked about the new woman in his life for over three hours. We repeated that meeting a month later, when I found Mr.Everyday. I get along well with Xion’s girlfriend. She’s young, fresh and bright but also intelligent and warm. Just the kind of girl I’d get along with, anytime, anyplace. Mr.Everyday likes Xion (which doesn’t surprise me, Xion really is easy to like). They bond over gaming and occasional girlfriend jibes.

We hang out together sometimes – dinner, movie and house parties. I never thought of double-dating as anything more than a group of four people socializing. But it turns out to be different from a group outing.

I’ve long hated the typical ‘smug married’ attitude myself, that makes coupled-up people only want to socialize with other coupled-up types. Most of my friends are still ‘individual friends’ in that, my bond with them stays unchanged through changes in my relationship status and theirs.

But it is good to have someone who understands your relationship situation perfectly because they know both you and your partner well. A close friend can be relied upon for unconditional support but perspective is something you only get from someone who’s at an objective distance from you and from the relationship. The girls-versus-boys conversations we sometimes have, the us-and-them comparison talks we do and even the close opposite sex perspective I get from Xion greatly help my relationship.  And of course, sometimes it is nice to be in the company of other people who won’t mind if you don’t pay them as much attention (they’re busy paying each other attention too).

A number of Mr.Everyday’s friends and mine are attached. But we don’t both get along with both of the other people in many of those cases. There are four people in this after all and all the requisite permutations and combinations don’t always work. Thus Xion and his girlfriend really are probably our best ‘couple friends’. It may sound corny but it’s real and it works.

The Past In 55 Words

Some 55-word-stories, related and un-related.

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

The past is a tricky creature. It never quite stays in its place, does it? It defines the path we take. It makes us who we are. And perhaps it says something about who we will be. Can we ever truly detach ourselves from our pasts? I think not. So I shrug and accept it.

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

She: I want to meet your ex-girlfriend.

He: What an odd thought! Why?

She: She’s your past and that’s part of you. Getting to know you includes meeting your past.

It’s to know why you like me. If she’s shy, I’ll know it’s my personality. If she’s sweet, it’s my attitude.

“CRAP” he was thinking.

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

“That’s her.”

“That’s her??? Your ex-girlfriend is gorgeous.”

“Not the way you are.”

“Right….you didn’t tell me she was so tall.”

“How does it matter? I think you are my perfect woman”

“One that’s shorter than you, you mean?”

“Quiet now…here she comes”

Pretty face, status symbol, too much attention. It must have been about his ego, then.

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

XX1: I’m glad to meet you!

XX2: Me too! I’ve been hearing so much about you!

XX1: We must talk about books. He said you have a collection!

XX2: I’ve got a book I hope you’ll like.

She’s just like me. Hmm…he’ll be a frequent furniture re-arranger. The same stuff but with a new look.

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

1 new message!

——————————————————————————————————————————–

Hi, I’m disappointed you didn’t come for the engagement. We were friends after all. You could’ve left work early. Anyway, here’re the photographs. Wish you were a part of them.

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Re:

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Photogenic me? But I don’t have that complexion, do I? You always had a thing for fair skin. Congratulations Mr.Fair & Lovely.

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~O~O~O~O~O~O~

She stubbed out the cigarette butt and gazed out of the window, running through the list in her mind. An organized mind aids good decisions.

Ex-girlfriends

  1. The Head girl
  2. The Beauty Queen
  3. The Campus Rebel
  4. The Business whiz-kid
  5. The Journalist
  6. The ex-girlfriend of his nemesis
  7. The Former Colleague

A collector of alpha females, she concluded.

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This is a version of an older post. A version is also posted at Yahoo! Real Beauty.

The Attack Of The Company-Snatchers

My world is being attacked! Biological warfare move over, this is the attack of a different sort of infection. Several of my friends have succumbed to its threat and as I speak, more are going down the same way. Such is the devastating power of Cupiditis.

What can make a seemingly normal, well-balanced, logical and loyal person turn into a zombie? The girlfriend/boyfriend strain, once in the system, acts like a potentially fatal disease. At first the victim is quarantined so contact is cut off, quite abruptly. He or she surfaces a short while later, to deliver the news of the infection. After that, it’s a downhill journey. He or she is never heard from again.

That’s unless the strain causes an allergy (also called ‘a fight’) wherein the victim surfaces again, asking for your support, which you’re obliged (by the rules of friendship) to provide. Unfortunately for you, in several such cases, clearing up the allergy means the strain is free to continue its onslaught on your friendship.

I think I can safely say a declaration of a relationship is the death-knoll for friendship. Goodbye, wonderful friend, buddy of the times, comrade in life’s journey. This is the end for us.

In the past year alone, I’ve sustained the loss of five friends to this deadly disease (one of them, twice to different viruses). And it’s beginning to bother me.

It’s come to a state where friendship appears to be a transient, unpredictable thing. There’s no telling who will drop out and when. It’s also exhausting to have to keep replenishing one’s circle of friends after the old ones all succumb. Once they’re gone, they’re gone and entry into their infected ranks is only permitted to fellow-victims, that is similarly coupled-up people.

It makes me wonder, has the significant other become a passport to human company? And should I be thinking about getting one simply so I can be assured of being included in get-togethers, cliques and indeed, having a social life at all? And if not, what are the options for a terminally single person (that’s ‘single till death’)? Give in or die alone. It’s the Attack Of The Company-Snatchers.

Everyone Wants To Get Into My Wallet!

Late one night as I was driving down the city, I looked up at a huge billboard of Sushmita Sen, an advertisement for Kiah jewellery, which said,

You are the occasion
You are the celebration

I told him,

I really love that ad!

He smiled and said,

You would. It celebrates you, after all.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~

Earlier in the month, I wrote about my first experience with luxuriant self-indulgence, the retail therapy way. I wear my diamonds with pride, a pride that comes not exactly from their aesthetic value but from the knowledge that I earned the power to buy them for myself.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~

A few years ago, I wrote about the Superwoman. I don’t know whether to be happy or not that it’s turning out to be prophetic. Take a minute to think about my words..

I am the center of a marketing model titled “High income single decision maker”
I am the brief given to fashion houses when they design the new Prada suit
I am described as ‘Joan of Arc meets Helen of Troy’

We are indeed, the hot new consumer demographic. Urban women, financially self-sufficient with all the trappings of our successful professional status – the need for new status symbols combined with the ability to pay for them.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~

Our parents’ generation saw the upsurge of women at work and all the initial beginnings like the glass ceiling, women bosses et al. Our generation in contrast is the one that gets to enjoy it (and be taken advantage of). We’re prominent for our purchasing power and marketers have been quick to pick up on the need for our own set of status symbols and paraphernalia. I speak as the target group of a woman who earns and has the independence to spend. I also speak as a marketing professional, seeing the other side of it, so to speak.

Successful men who earn well have been well tapped into as a market and are induced to spend on everything from their own selves (personal gadgets, cars), social settings (restaurants, pubs, sports activities) and all sorts of dating-related paraphernalia (presents for women, tokens of what makes them an ‘ideal partner’). What do their opposite numbers in our sex have?

We have shoes, clothes, bags, accessories, jewelery, make-up and personal grooming services. If the men-targeted products homed in on the traditional masculine need to be macho and an alpha male, we are being targeted for our vanity and need to be ‘the babe’.

Of course, the more complicated dynamics of women actually competing with each other in these stakes is well played out. What else do you think Bhala uski saadi meri saadi se safed kaisi is?

The more expensive products are obviously affordable only to a certain type of woman – she has a career, she’s ambitious and wants to be respected for her intelligence, she doesn’t want to stand in anyone’s shadow, she has a personality of her own. And hence diamonds, super-expensive shoes and clothes come with the messages that they respect your individuality, celebrate your independence and will take Visa as well as American Express.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~

I was invited to the premier showing of the big Hollywood release of Confessions of a Shopaholic. I saw the movie with a group of girlfriends and all of us identified with the heroine. We would, she’s based on us after all. While the movie is meant to be a really light-hearted comedy, it points to something deeper.
I got to wondering about the phenomenon of shopaholism. Is it a reality that we’re likely to be facing very soon? All manner of excess is driven towards filling a need that hasn’t been satisfied earlier. So women who binge are thought to be unconsciously compensating for a lack of affection in their lives. What unmet need are we trying to plug with this excessive buying?

Becky Bloomwood in the movie nails it on the head when she explains her addiction,

Because when I shop, it feels so pretty, so nice, so good! And then it doesn’t so I have to shop even more!

True to all successful marketing strategies, this one also gives us a taste of what we like and then leaves us begging for more. Shinier hair! Higher heels! Bigger (and smaller) bags! Cooler sunglasses! Brighter make-up! Lotions, creams, gels, powders, liquid liners, sticks, brushes, concealers, colorants, rinses, crayons, cakes, gloss, sequins, beads, rhinestones, denim, silk, linen, velvet….the list never ends.

So for all our gloss and gorgeousness, we are nothing more than the product of a very successful marketing program designed to relieve us our newly-minted paychecks. ‘Fabulous’ is the bait they use to lure us in and the looming bill at the end of the month is the hook.

It used to be about too many people wanting to get into my pants.
Now everyone wants to get into my wallet!!

Past Choices

Some 55-word-stories, related and un-related. Draw your own conclusions and leave your comments behind. Also cross-posted on IFSHA.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~

She: I want to meet your ex-girlfriend.

He: What an odd thought! Why?

She: She’s your past and that’s part of you. Getting to know you includes meeting your past.

It’s to know why you like me. If she’s shy, I’ll know its my personality. If she’s sweet, its my attitude.

“CRAP” he was thinking.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~

That’s her.

That’s her??? Your ex-girlfriend is gorgeous.

Not the way you are.

Right….you didn’t tell me she was so tall.

How does it matter…I think you are my perfect woman

Shorter than you, you mean?

Quiet now…here she comes

Pretty face, status symbol, too much attention. It must have been about his ego, then.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~

XX1: I’m glad to meet you!

XX2: Me too! I’ve been hearing so much about you!

XX1: We must talk about books. He said you have a collection!

XX2: I’ve got a book I hope you’ll like.

She’s just like me. Hmm…he’ll be a frequent furniture re-arranger. The same stuff but with a new look.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~

1 new message!

Hi, I’m disappointed you didn’t come for the engagement. We were friends after all. You could’ve left work early. Anyway, here’re the photographs. Wish you were a part of them.

Photogenic me? But I don’t have that complexion, do I? You always had a thing for fair skin. Congratulations Mr.Fair & Lovely.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~

She stubbed out the cigarette butt and gazed out of the window, running through the list in her mind. An organized mind aids good decisions.

Ex-girlfriends

The Head girl
The Beauty Queen
The Campus Rebel
The Business whiz-kid
The Journalist
The ex-girlfriend of his nemesis
The Former Colleague

A collector of alpha females.

she concluded.

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