Being Single In India

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Updated On: March 22, 2024
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Singlehood in Indian society is a tricky proposition that translates into continually mounting pressure as time goes by. Being an unmarried person in India in your early 20s, for instance, is a whole different ball game than being single in your late 20s or early 30s. With advancing years, the growing pressure and scrutiny from immediate and extended family, and in many cases even well-meaning friends, can make you feel as if your entire identity is defined by your relationship status.

The prejudices against singlehood are also directed more toward women. People from the LGBTQ community have it even harder because they’re often fighting a two-fold battle of acceptance. That’s not to say that the life of a single, unmarried man in India is completely free of pressures and judgment, but the severity of it is minuscule in comparison.

It is for this reason that being an unmarried successful woman in India doesn’t alleviate the societal expectation of ‘settling down’. Indian society, by and large, still treats dating and relationships as an escalator that eventually leads to a marriage, and getting off is not seen as an option. The concept of being single by choice hasn’t even landed in India, and we’re still long ways off from that idea gaining acceptance.

While the older generations may still be fixated on the notion of marriage and companionship being essential for a fulfilling life, the percentage of unmarried adults in India is growing. That’s because more and more people are seeing the benefits of being single, especially in contrast to being trapped in unfulfilling or unhappy relationships.

The independence and freedom to live your life just the way you like, without always having to accommodate another person’s likes, dislikes, expectations and even tantrums, can be liberating. That’s probably why millennials in India are not getting married on the same scale as the generations before them.

Singlehood in Indian society is a tricky proposition that translates into continually mounting pressure as time goes by. Being an unmarried person in India in your early 20s, for instance, is a whole different ball game than being single in your late 20s or early 30s. With advancing years, the growing pressure and scrutiny from immediate and extended family, and in many cases even well-meaning friends, can make you feel as if your entire identity is defined by your relationship status. The prejudices against singlehood are also directed more toward women. People from the LGBTQ community have it even harder because they’re often fighting a two-fold battle of acceptance. That’s not to say that the life of an unmarried man in India is completely free of pressures and judgment, but the severity of it is minuscule in comparison. It is for this reason that being an unmarried successful woman in India doesn’t alleviate the societal expectation of ‘settling down’. Indian society, by and large, still treats dating and relationships as an escalator that eventually leads to a marriage, and getting off is not seen as an option. The concept of being single by choice hasn’t even landed in India, and we’re still long ways off from that idea gaining acceptance. While the older generations may still be fixated on the notion of marriage and companionship being essential for a fulfilling life, the percentage of unmarried adults in India is growing. That’s because more and more people are seeing the benefits of being single, especially in contrast to being trapped in unfulfilling or unhappy relationships. The independence and freedom to live your life just the way you like, without always having to accommodate another person’s likes, dislikes, expectations and even tantrums, can be liberating. That’s probably why millennials in India are not getting married on the same scale as the generations.

There can be various factors at play behind why someone chooses to stay in toxic or unhealthy relationships and marriages. From lack of financial stability to children, societal judgment and so on. Besides, being a single woman in India – or even a single man to some degree – can be extremely unnerving, so a lot of people may stay on thinking at least they have a relationship or a partner to call their own. The mindset around coping with single status and the loneliness that comes with it needs to change for people to be able to walk away from relationships that are not good for them.

Reclaiming your sex life when you go from being married to an unmarried person in India also proves to be a challenge, especially for women. From the very beginning, women are conditioned to think of sex as not a natural, biological urge but something that is permitted only within the framework of a marriage. So, many women struggle to come to terms with their sexual needs and remain in denial about finding ways to address their urges. This can lead to an immensely unfulfilling life. Besides, if a woman has only been with one sexual partner ever – that happens to be the person they were married to – their sexual fantasies can still revolve around their exes, which is unhealthy, to say the least.

Staying unmarried in India can become an exceedingly lonely experience, especially if a person chooses to be single after a failed marriage because the notions around sex and attraction are immensely problematic. There are a multitude of women, who even today, cannot accept their sexual urges outside the purview of marriage. So, sex goes from a pleasurable, liberating act to something they’re afraid of.

Is it ok to not get married in India? If this question has been on your mind, either because you’re in the precarious territory of 40 and single in India or are coming out of a failed marriage or relationship, it may help to look at the advantages of singlehood. Being single gives you the freedom to make your own decisions and chart out the trajectory of your life. Be it finances, careers, adopting a pet, parenting, traveling, the playground of opportunities just opens up in ways that it possibly cannot for a person in a committed relationship.

What’s the life of unmarried people in India like? The answer to that question can be very age-specific. Being single in your 20s can be markedly different from being single in the 30 and even more so if you’re 40 and single in India. As you inch toward certain age milestones, you invariably feel a sense of pressure irrespective of how at ease you may be with your single status. That pressure comes from the people around you constantly asking you about your plans for settling down as well as inherent and deep-rooted conditioning that has led us to believe that finding a partner and getting married is part of being complete

Single and willing to wait at 35


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