Am I better off alone? Should I stay single?

alonesingle

When you’re Indian and single, only one question is on everyone’s mind – when are you getting married?

It doesn’t matter if you’re 16 or 60; this is the question that preoccupies every Aunty, Dadi and family friend you run into.

Aunts seem to be waiting their entire lives to witness your marriage.

Grandfathers tell you that their lives are not complete until they see you married.

Your parents participate in deep daily prayers and fasts, hoping that you’ll marry within the year.

These parentals evaluate their lives according to your nuptials.

They give themselves an “A” when you marry a Harvard-trained doctor who comes from the same village in India that you did. They give themselves an “F” when you marry anyone who…isn’t a doctor, doesn’t speak Hindi, doesn’t have family with property in India, or can’t save lives/program computers.

Your life is not complete until someone puts a ring on it.

Or a chain on it. No! not like a prison chain gang.

More like an exquisite gold necklace around a woman’s neck.

Your life’s not complete ‘til you literally tie the knot.

Even divorce is not enough to end the speculation, prayers and hopes that you’ll get married (or, in this case, remarried).

Today you have a second chance. Or a third chance to make right what the Gods got wrong. What the astrologer miscalculated.

While you feel the mounting pressure to have an Indian wedding that generations of relatives can attend, you’re probably wondering whether marriage is even right for you.

And non-Indian people who have no idea what I’m talking about – you too might feel the pressures of finding a doctor kind-spirited, enlightened man who earns a living, provides unlimited emotional support and accompanies you on international travel and spiritual retreats. A man who wakes up the kids and gets them to school and awakens your spirit at the same time.

But what if a romantic partnership or marriage isn’t for you? What do you do then?

Are you better off alone? Should you stay single?

Only you know the answers to these questions.

Are you happy by yourself? Do you get enough companionship, friendship and emotional support from friends and family? Do you find life fulfilling and complete without a significant other in it?

Does your life have meaning, passion and purpose?

It’s difficult in today’s society to be by yourself. Your parents scorn you, your impatient family members continually check their mailboxes for wedding invitations, and every form you fill out shames you for not having a husband’s name to write on it.

Should you stay single?

Again, only you know the answer to that question, but I can list a handful of circumstances in which, yes, you should absolutely stay single!

Here’s when you should consider being by yourself, no matter how many wedding gifts you could net or how fantastic a honeymoon trip to the Bermudas would be.

Here are 5 situations in which staying single might save your sanity and your life.

1)   When you’ve just broken up.

When you’ve just broken up with someone, you feel as though the world you know has crashed down on you.

You feel broken, unattractive, unworthy and like a failure.

It’s time to stock up on Häagen-Dazs ice cream, stream the Mindy Kaling show on Hulu and camp out at home with your cat.

It’s also time to cry, heal and take stock of what happened to you.

You might want to take glamor photos of yourself, upload them to a Match.com profile and start packing your calendar with dates for the next several weeks.

Maybe you want to bypass the grieving process for Tinder rendezvous and Shaadi.com introductions.

Of course this is an invitation to meet Mr. Wrong. You won’t be singing Sheryl Crow’s “My Favorite Mistake,” but instead writing the lyrics to a new song, “My Life’s Most Neurotic Mistake.”

When you feel broken down, opt for sanity instead of romance.

Allow yourself to rest, reflect and heal the pain.

2)   When you’re not comfortable being by yourself.

Throughout your life, have you been in a series of relationships, one after the other, without any breaks in between?

Are you fulfilled only when you have a romantic interest?

Are you dealing with emotional bankruptcy, perpetual loneliness or a feeling of emptiness? Like your life has no meaning or purpose?

Don’t get back into another relationship simply to fill a void.

If you’re humming along to Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” and can empathize with the lyrics, “Deep down I know this never works, but could you lay with me so it doesn’t hurt,” you should step away from relationships.

If loneliness and emptiness are lifelong issues, address those issues first.

Begin the journey to embrace yourself and do the daily inner work you need to find peace within yourself.

3)   When you don’t know yourself.

You believe your partner is the problem.

The relationship didn’t work because of his jealousy. Or his communication issues. His lack of compassion. The fact that he didn’t listen to you.

If you have pre-packaged excuses and justifications that explain the reasons each of your relationships failed, hold the trumpets and silence the wedding bells.

Your issues might have nothing to do with the men you’re dating or meeting.

They might stem from you.

Do you have some issues that you have to work on yourself?

Family issues that still haunt you and are holding you back?

Have you not made peace and released the grief associated with a previous relationship?

Have you spent no time understanding yourself, being mindful of your thoughts or watching the emotional waves that flood you every day?

You don’t have to go to Rishikesh for a spiritual awakening or make the hajj to Mecca for clarity, but you can begin the process of going within. You can enter the shrine of silence and the halls of reflection.

You can acknowledge life long issues that are bothering you and start working on them.

4)   When you’re with the wrong person.

This is both a simple decision and an impossible one.

It’s easy to linger in a relationship that’s not right for you. From the beginning, you knew he was an egotistic, selfish and anger-fueled mad man. And you were right.

You’re in the wrong relationship with the wrong person but you’re not able to break out of it.

Every fiber of your being says, “get out,” but family, friends and your 10 years of shared history make this task virtually impossible.

If you have an emotional investment, kids or family obligations to be together, you’re in a tough spot.

The solution is not to break things off and move on (as much as you may want it to be). You’ll have to work hard, engage in more self-reflection and maybe even seek outside help to get you both on the same page.

If family or kids aren’t issues but the relationship is still not functioning, you may have to do the inner work needed to come to terms with your situation.

Are you in the relationship simply because you fear change? You loathe heartbreak? You hate starting over?

Does staying in this dysfunctional relationship give you comfort, safety or companionship?

Again, it’s virtually impossible to walk away from a relationship, as much as your heart and intuition tell you to do so.

When your intuition rings the alarm bells and you ignore them, you’re living in contradiction to your truth.

5)   When you’re uncertain about whom you’re looking for.

Many people go about dating and meeting people the wrong way.

They figure they’ll give everyone a chance and see what’s out there.

This, to me, is like going car shopping without knowing which car you’re looking for.

It would be like taking an international trip and not knowing which country you’re going to.

One of this site’s most popular posts discusses this topic.

Essentially, I suggest that the key to finding your ideal mate is to determine the values you desire in another person. Decide your relationship goals and uncover common interests you share with the other person.

If you don’t know who you’re looking for, how will you know you’ve found him?

Oh, and to avoid the 3,000-item checklist you’ve been using to help you find Mr. Right.

How about three shared values, two relationship goals and a partridge in a pear tree a couple of shared interests that indicate you would likely enjoy the other person’s company.

If you don’t find these things after a 45-minute conversation, it’s time to move on.

Don’t let other people’s interest in you determine your interest in them. Trust yourself.

And until you have an idea about who you’re looking for, stay single.

If you go about dating while you’re lost, confused and uncertain, you’ll find a lost, confused and uncertain soul.

You don’t have to be single forever, but there are times in your life when you can benefit from being on your own.

If you still have work to do on yourself or need to figure out what kind of partner you’re looking for, spend some quality time alone.

Hold off against social demands, parental wishes and Facebook references to happy brides. Take care of yourself first.

Photo credit Splitshire