(Un)Settling.

My best friend called me & we caught up. She’s deep into her mid-30s, and not looking forward to her next birthday.

She had recently gone on a couple dates with a guy who was nice, smart, successful, a little nerdy, and (important to her) Indian. When she met him a couple years ago, she wasn’t interested–he’s younger than her, and at the time, he was considerably overweight. He had recently lost a lot of weight, and asked her out–and she said yes.

They went on a few dates and had a nice time together–no earth-shattering chemistry, but they enjoyed each other’s company. They kissed, they made out… and then he found out how old she is. And suddenly… She found herself in the ‘Friend Zone.’

She described her reaction, and I was shocked at how much I related to it. “I can’t believe he broke up with me–I’m definitely more attractive & dynamic–but that’s not the point,” she said. “When he said we’d be better off as friends, I was sad. And a little part of me was relieved. What is that about?”

I thought about it, and I understood. We’re getting older. We’re alone. We want to find someone (worthy) with whom to settle down. Isn’t that why we go on dates? We want to find someone that we enjoy spending time with, and spend a lot of time with them–in a relationship, in a marriage, or something a little more unstructured. As we get older, and the dating pool of eligible people gets smaller and shallower, there is an unspoken desperation that slowly creeps into our blood–we find ourselves hoping, clinging, clawing for the connection, to make it into something that, perhaps, it may never fully become. We end up staying with someone too long, clinging to a guy or girl with whom we don’t have much of a connection or chemistry (or even anything in common), all for the hope of a future together. Not necessarily with that person, but just… SOMEONE.  When that connection dissolves, we may experience sadness, but relief, as well. Why? Because we knew it wasn’t right in the first place. Realizing this can be the hardest thing of all–because we really want to find someone great, someone we adore, but we find ourselves settling, just so we don’t have to be alone.

And now we have to find someone else to date… and hope we don’t settle for the wrong reasons.

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16 comments on “(Un)Settling.

  1. rahul says:

    I’m an Indian (Hindu) guy approaching thirty. There’s no way I’d marry someone past thirty, and the younger the better. I don’t want to be someone she settles down with, after I’ve played by all the “rules”.

    People who stay single, particularly alone, for that long develop behavioral problems – irritation at minor things, an excessive sense of personal space, guarded with what they say, their emotions etc. Ironically find divorcees are much better adjusted! Younger women are just more the sharing type.

    But I see this all the time – not just in America – in Mumbai and a few of my cousins in the UK, a glut of mid-thirties unmarried Indian women. I mean you have like 2-3 years tops before you must have a kid or two at the most, which isn’t appealing. I really have no idea what they were doing with their life for so long (I couldn’t say work since they would have been in the same city or career path all that time). What the hell have Desi parents done to their kids?

    • Thanks for sharing your perspective.

      I think it’s interesting that you make such sweeping generalizations–unless you know someone’s story, you don’t know why they’re single or where they’re coming from. I also have to wonder about you & your background, as I (& many singletons that I know–both male & female) have heard these same ‘sentiments’ echoed repeatedly, and they are incorrect. Can you explain what you mean by the ‘rules’?

      I agree with your question, but not for the reason that you asked–I wonder about why some desi parents coddle their sons, why others make it their career to get their (or others’) children married, and not focus on the happiness of said children. Because, while I may be single & dating, I am genuinely happy–and happy that I didn’t settle down with any of the people that I have dated or been set up with to this point in my life.

    • VijayV says:

      I dont think the parents have done anything. Its how the mindset of the “kid” expands once they get to step out of India, its cultural confines, experience differences and mature in respecting and appreciating what is not always ours. With it, comes a new found respect, and also admiration for deeper things – which means a good chunk of us are okay with people from different religions and background as our potential spouses, except that our families arent going to admit to it…yet.

      So nope, no fault on the parents, we as the next generation with a broader sense of life, just expect a bit much – but are caught with the confines of boundaries set by the past generation.

      • knightleyemma says:

        Well, I can’t speak for desi ladies and in India, but I have noticed some things among ABCD & more recent desi immigrant women.

        ABCDs: For the most part, these ladies were your typical suburban American kids in MOST ways. They are VERY educated (advanced degrees, not just undergrad). About 30% are married to white men, and seem QUITE happy (even in NYC area, I was surprised to see)! Most did NOT date until college or even grad school. They tend to go for VERY smart, high achieving men (white/desi) who are conservative in their personal values, but still have dated some, drink, have fun, etc. The white guys I met in NYC area LOVED doing desi stuff w/ their wives/kids/pals!

        Recent immigrant ladies: Mainly, I have met these ladies in college, 5 boroughs of NYC, and Indiana. In Indy, they are pretty much all in college OR married youngish and working-class. Desi community there is pretty new/young (20s-30s mostly). In NYC, it’s a mixed bag, BUT many had arranged marriages in early 20s, gotten divorced, gotten advanced degrees/jobs, then remarried to a (desi) man of their own choosing. They grew up all over the globe: South Asia, Saudi, Kuwait, Thailand, etc. No matter who they fall far, these ladies consider themselves to be proud desis, unlike the suburban kids I’ve met back in West/Midwest (no surprise there)!

  2. rahul says:

    Well if you’re happy, that’s all that counts, I misinterpreted the tone of the article/blog. Nevertheless I’m not convinced most “singletons” can be as content.

    I only commented because I see this epidemic in my own family and was always afraid to give said women an insight on what we seek. Partly because it’s none of my business and partly because they might lash out at their parents, men, society etc. Which they’d regret later but hate me for.

    Knowing that some have slept walked into this lifestyle, I try not to be accusatory. Whole industries, thriving off this short termism prod them into it… and it feedbacks… saps them… a Stockholm syndrome. Bad for the environment, people at the bottom and adds nothing of value to humanity.

    My own background? Born, educated in India, came over on a work visa (IT). Is it PC to add Konkani brahmin or are we all identikit desis now.

    The rules? Pray, study, try to help others, establish a career, amongst other things. All done.

  3. Emma says:

    Most of the desi guys (Bangladeshi; Muslim; grew up mainly overseas) that I’ve spoken w/ over the yrs are married now. They married in their late 20s/early 30s to a) gals their mom picked out b) other BDs who grew up in West. Just a handful that I really liked, so can’t judge all on that. Maybe we didn’t have much in common b/c of our different upbringings? A few yrs ago, my mom told me to look at other types of guys; now even my dad (religious; kinds old school when it comes to relationships) says that! I guess I need to move on…

  4. Hannah says:

    I actually have a different perspective. I married someone at 27, he was right on paper, and on the outside seemed like a catch. However, after we got married, he turned into this horrible person (we dated for several years before getting engaged). We’re divorced now and I am so incredibly happy being on my own. I feel free and am lucky to be able to experience life on my own terms.

    I think because of my experience, and because I have learned now to live on my own and completely take care of myself, I will not rush into another relationship. Perhaps one day I’ll meet someone great (brown or not), want to settle down and have a family. But maybe not. And that’s ok. All I know is that I have NO desire to be with somene just to be with someone. Life’s too short. If you can be happy alone, you’re much more apt to be able to welcome the right person into your life. Just my two cents.

    • Emma says:

      Great comment, Hannah! ITA w/ you; also the few ppl who know me well say that I’m not the settling type. Honestly, 27 y.o. is not TOO young to marry (if w/ the right person). It may be too immature for some ppl though.

    • Hannah,

      Thanks for sharing. I completely agree (and live by) your last few sentences: ” All I know is that I have NO desire to be with someone just to be with someone. Life’s too short. If you can be happy alone, you’re much more apt to be able to welcome the right person into your life.” It’s so true–one has to find happiness on their own. No one can fill that void within.

      • Vijay says:

        Very well said Hannah. If we stayed this long, looking for the right person, it just sucks to settle at this point, and not keep going till the right person comes along – someone you marry because life makes no sense without them, rather than marrying for the sake of it.

  5. jagdeesh mann says:

    not really on topic here, but would love to get ABG blog/ perspective on the Jassi Sidhu story – http://www.justiceforjassi.com.

  6. R Sharma says:

    Infrequent lurker on your blog. Nice to see you stopped being a colossal bitch. Kudos, and happy 2012!

    • Oh, I am still a colossal bitch, Mr. Sharma–apparently you like the other facets of my personality as well. Happy lurking.

      • Hannah says:

        RSharma – not sure who you are and I only know angrybrowngirl through this blog, but you’re a giant douche for writing something that disrespectful on her site. Grow the fuck up.

  7. Amrita says:

    I honestly believe that we are responsible for our own happiness. I don’t rely on my husband to make me happy, I make myself happy by taking care of myself and doing things I love. I don’t really like the whole whiney attitude of some people in relationships who think it’s their partner’s duty to make them happy. No buddy it’s your own life, make yourself happy!

    It’s nice to share a life with someone but trust me it’s not always the fairy tale that people paint. Yes it’s lovely to have a warm body to sleep next to everyday but marriage is also a big responsibility which people sometimes forget about. There are times when I think about all of the things I never got to do, it passes but I feel it’s the same way for people who are single, they think about what they could be doing if they had a partner. I think it’s the dilemma of ‘the grass is always greener on the other side’.

    I’m very happy with my marriage but I feel as though our culture (south asian generally speaking) really makes being single look like a sin at times. People gossip about you, your family pressures you, they try to set you up with any guy/girl, people start wondering if there is something physically wrong with you, etc. It’s quite stupid really. Marriage is a big deal, it’s a life long commitment so I do think it’s a decision that people have to think about before rushing into.

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