I dread coming back home after my time at sea. I stop being a respected rank and I become a person. People who don’t matter suddenly make their presence felt. They present themselves like an apparition and suddenly want to know what’s been up. Being on land feels superficial now. Talking about things that don’t matter to people who don’t matter. And over the past year years, everyone has the same question : when will you get married?
I turned 30 last month and I’ve always had a mental block with that age. I think most people feel it too. You read articles titled “things you should stop doing when you turn 30” and the general perception around that number is that it is a responsible age. You can’t just act like a child anymore. Maturity should now be your forte. Not only am I not married, I have been single for a while now. And there are a number of reasons for that. But somehow, not being married means that something must be wrong with me. My Mum has said a wide variety of things to encourage me to get married. And don’t get me wrong, I am all for finding a suitable and worthy partner for myself. But being a perfectionist in this realm and every other realm of my life, I refuse to settle. That doesn’t mean I think I’m too good, that simply means I haven’t found what I’m looking for. But people don’t get that.
I met a few of my college friends recently. Both married about 2-3 years ago. Me and another unmarried friend went to look them up. Now I don’t know what it was but I found their lives tasteless and devoid of excitement. And as it always happens when an unmarried person engages with married folk, the attention turned to me and why I wasn’t married. I did my best to explain what it was. I explained how I had pursued some interests, however they didn’t work out. Either they found reasons to leave me or I found reasons to leave them. But rather than taking me seriously, they made jokes. They said maybe it was time for me to come out of the closet.
I had the same conversation with a cousin of mine who is much older to me. After explaining my reasons of being single, he looked at me and said “You’re not gay, are you?” I was offended but out of respect for him and his age, I laughed it off.
It got me thinking though how unmarried people are looked at. Its almost always one out of two assumptions : Someone must have broken his heart really badly or he must be gay.
I remember I had gone home to visit the folks on Diwali many years ago. Our elderly neighbour stopped by to distribute sweets and he looked at me and bro and said “it’s high time you boys get married and give us some good news”. Some random stranger came into my home and wanted me to get married. What a world to live in.
There are a wide variety of reasons why a man in his 30’s might be single. Me, personally, I don’t settle for less. I have dated, I have gone on dates with women I met on dating apps, I have met all kinds of women. None fit my description of perfect. I am a hopeless romantic but I will not waste my efforts on someone undeserving.
There was a point during that dinner when my friends stepped out for a smoke and I was sitting with the two wives. They said that this was the first time in months where they stepped out of the house and had an outing. “You should visit more often” they said. I could’ve settled like my friends did. I could’ve taken the easy route and said yes to some girl my parents picked for me or dated any one of these women who showed serious interest and intent. But I don’t want to become a bad husband or a bad boyfriend like these guys. I know I will lose interest if the woman I date/marry doesn’t keep me on my toes and the very sight of her tingles my insides. And because I know myself too well, I make the responsible choice to not be with someone I’m not entirely sure I want to be with. A lifetime is a really long time. And I don’t want to ruin both our lives by taking the easy way out.
Till then, I’m going to be the person that I’ve always been. Despite general consensus, being by yourself has its merits. Being alone doesn’t always have to mean being lonely and sad. It can also mean being liberated and free. I have married friends who are happy. I have married friends who are miserable. I have single friends who are miserable and I am a single man who is happy. The amount of time wasted by me doing something I don’t want to do is next to zero. If I want to read, I pick up a book and read. If I want to watch a movie, I pick a movie and watch it. Tomorrow I might go to a nearby hill station. Or maybe I’ll just stay in bed all day. I haven’t decided but I’ll do whatever I feel like doing at that instant. Yes, physical intimacy is nice but it comes at a price. It is human nature to always be at loggerheads with the person you’re living with. I’ve adapted to the absence of physical intimacy because of being at sea for so long. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I am still a highly functioning, deep thinking, old fashioned, nature loving and hopeless romantic guy.
I’m single. And that’s okay.