Dear Zindagi, a partner's not a chair

Can we really choose a partner like we choose a piece of furniture?

Enakshi Biswas | Posted on 26 Dec 2016
Time to read: 3 min
Choosing a partner is not the same as Choosing a Chair | Bonobology

Ek kursi choose karne se pehle we try so many chairs, to ek life partner kaise easily choose kar le,” says Shah Rukh Khan as psychologist Dr Jehangir Khan in Dear Zindagi to Alia Bhatt, playing the hapless Kaira, confused about her dating life. Dr. Jehangir tells her it is perfectly fine to explore various options before zeroing in on a life partner. He says that just as we don’t buy the very first chair that we spot and instead survey the market and browse many shops before buying a chair, a similar modus operandi should be employed while choosing a life partner.

This analogy misses the basic point that a chair is inanimate; if you don’t choose it, it will not be heart-broken.

A chair’s sense of self-worth will not take a beating when rejected. But if a human being is treated like just another option, it can shatter his or her confidence and might even kill that person’s motivation to live, in cases where the person is emotionally heavily invested in the other person who simply ‘moves on’ in search of a better bet. Can a person be reduced to being just an option like a dead log carved into a chair?

And that is the premise of a multitude of mobile dating apps which echo the old adage “There are plenty more fish in the sea”. An advertisement for the movie has Alia and her friend, Jackie, swiping left with a certain irreverence towards men who have been reduced to ‘options’. Are these dating apps teaching us to discard people based simply on their looks and the few words that they write to describe themselves? Are we turning into an opinionated, judgmental lot that look down upon and make fun of others who may not be as articulate in those few words in which they have to make that elevator pitch to impress the opposite sex?

While it is important to ensure we choose a partner we are comfortable with and can trust, it is also true that everyone is a work in progress. People are flawed and it takes time for every person to adjust to their companion and blossom. Even new shoes pinch!

This fast track Move On generation, caught up in a speed dating scenario, is probably not giving themselves or their partner sufficient time to build the basic foundation on which a relationship can stabilise itself. A hop, skip and jump onto the next partner is detrimental for both the people involved.

The millennials are not allowing themselves enough time to introspect or heal. That there are life lessons to be learnt and imbibed from a relationship and that it can allow one to become a better version of oneself, is suddenly being lost to the whole game of musical chairs where you keep warming your bum on a new chair every time!

Selfies and Instagram posts have become a deciding factor in attracting a mate but whether the mate can be a mate for life in this superficial game of throes of passion is anybody’s guess!

Gradually we are becoming a tribe of young men and women who aren’t able to hold a relationship together because we are not willing to put in enough effort to make it work. We are the same ambitious, driven, goal oriented youth who slog long hours to crack IIT-JEE, CAT and other competitive examinations and put in long hours at work. This is a strange hypocrisy, where efforts are channelised into building a career, but there is unwillingness to pump in some effort into a relationship which ultimately matters more than materialistic pursuits.

Then there are those who mask their lean bank accounts by adopting a lifestyle beyond their means. The interesting holidays at exotic locations, the regular pub-hopping group photographs, the mandatory sky diving photographs, the thumbs up from the scuba diving shot screaming “I’m living life to the fullest”, the ‘cool’ cruise videos are on Facebook, but depression and an existential crisis that plagues the souls stay out of the virtual life that we carefully cultivate.

This illusory world acts as a bait to attract partners, and driven by materialistic needs, partners are discarded without as much as a ‘bye’. Sometimes you are lucky to even get a text that says, “I am breaking up with you.” They ghost you and move on, in search of another kursi. And you are left feeling like a creaky, empty rocking chair.


Enakshi Biswas: s_83 That is such a nice reference to draw from, it adds more shades to the article which is trying to resonate the same feeling-About partners who dont 'use & throw' each other but help each other and that in turn requires,giving each other Time and not swipe a finger on the phone to find the next catch:) When the Comment section becomes so enriched with valuable views, it becomes heartening for the writer to write more and write non-judgementally

s_83: Well written. I have not seen this movie, but it is indeed a little disappointing to read the chair analogy dialogue. I say disappointed because I very much liked Gauri Shinde’s take on relationships in English Vinglish. In the wedding toast speech in the last scene, Sridevi talks about how a marriage is a friendship of two equals. ‘Sometimes one may feel less equal than the other, so please help each other to get back on track so you can both feel equal’ That was such a simple, beautiful articulation of someone who simply got it. That it is not like choosing products judgementally to eventually find ‘the one’. On the other hand, it is about helping each other through life.


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