My friend Shinali is a successful musician and Zumba enthusiast. At 29, when she expressed concern over the lack of good matches and the sad ‘arranged marriage process’, I set her up with another friend of mine. Soon they were dating and announced their engagement in a couple of months.
Problems quickly surfaced and the relationship – a long-distance one – fizzled out over the guy’s refusal to accept her the way she was- fun-loving, carefree and happy-go-lucky. On paper, they were a perfect match, but reality bites. The verdict was incompatibility. Shinali is now 31, positively glowing and doing better than ever, with several coveted awards and residencies to her credit. She is well-travelled, loves gourmet cuisine and is an amazing cook. However, she is despondent at the marriage scene. “Nothing to report on the love front and exhausted by the arranged marriage process,” she says.
“There aren’t any eligible men left by the time you seriously start looking,” says my friend Chandni. In her mid-thirties, she is a textbook case of ‘can’t find the one’. A writer and a creative writing teacher at a prestigious institution abroad, she’s got the perfect ‘Facebook’ life. She posts holiday pictures from exotic locations and shares happy partying moments with her friends. She exercises regularly, is in great shape and looks radiant. In short, life is good. But- there’s always a but when everything’s this perfect- she can’t find the one and yet, she wants to get married and have children. In that order. Biologically.
The single, ready-to-mingle and waiting is a bit of a global situation. So lots of people are single, you say. True. But in both these cases, there is not so much societal pressure as personal frustration about something that should have been easy as pie. But it is not and for no good reason. “Am I unmarriageable? Why are there no good prospects? It gets worse every year,” my single friends often complain.
From fixating over what’s wrong with them to what’s wrong with the opposite sex to what’s wrong with the process in general, they have been there and done that. So what’s so difficult with the marriage scene that it is becoming increasingly difficult to find someone worthy enough to spend your life with? I have had many eligible single friends- both men and women-who wonder aloud about that one.
First, the process has changed. Considerably. If you are going the arranged marriage route, it is nothing short of a long and hard quest, akin to a multiplayer online game with multiple levels, each more advanced and difficult to crack than the prior: Kundali-check, bio data-check, family compatibility-check, boy-girl compatibility-check, background compatibility-check, personal preferences-check. And even after clearing several rounds, if you reach the finals and finally meet, there is that dreaded, ‘Something’s missing. No chemistry’.
The rules of the dating game are not well-defined but so many things can potentially go wrong when there is not an iota of societal pressure for them to go right. Besides, how can you make love happen? Then there are so many of these friendly arranged matches, where you are introduced by common friends/family and date awhile to see if it works out. That road might just be a better approach.
And then there are these incredible stories. That of my friend Mansi, who not only found her Mr.Perfect but rather found him at a time when she had stopped looking and was taking a break from the whole hoopla. “I think once I stopped focusing on it, it ceased to be a challenge and I was more relaxed about the process,” is her explanation.
Is it pure luck then? Most of us pin things like these on luck when the answers become elusive. However, Mike Halson, founder of the website Single Living, says there are ways to improve the odds. “My recommendation would be to adopt a more holistic approach and try to create the conditions where love might bloom,” he says.
Related reading: 7 tips to make marriages work
“Try to meet as many potentially compatible partners as possible. For example, if you’re into films, join a film club. If you’re into fitness, joining a running club. This seems obvious, but many singles overlook the chances of finding more like-minded, compatible dates via common interests and passions.”
Secondly, make sure you project a positive and approachable aura. Embrace life and wherever possible avoid sounding negative, critical or depressed. Don’t dwell on problems or relationships that are in the past,” he says. “More often than not we tend to obsess about our looks and ‘ageing’. “Stay healthy and fit. Eat well, sleep well, don’t smoke (it’s the number one skin-ageing agent), drink in moderation and keep active. Research indicates that looking tired or stressed, or even having a bad complexion, can adversely affect that vital first impression.”
Practical advice for a modern and global predicament!