Adulting, and Dating

This week’s newsletter is a collection of very short stories. This isn’t me just contemplating. If you identify with this, then this is a prescription for you to seek help.

On a personal front, this week, I have realised one thing - parents do their thing, either intentionally, or not. But we are adults. Our focus as adults must be to build a muscle to think and grow independently. It is as much their doing as it is yours if you are still letting them dictate choices in your life.

I have four short stories to tell, all of them unfortunately real.

Story 1: Living in the shadows

I was once contacted by a father looking to get his son married. The father was an interesting person with a very strong personality. The son’s description sounded like a small dark shadow of his personality. When I spoke to the son, I decided to give him a fair chance. Since I work only with people looking to get married, all my communication going forward was with this guy alone.

I presented him with a couple of proposals. Both times, the guy wanted to consult with his parents before communicating his own thoughts. I felt a huge sense of relief when these proposals didn’t go through. The universe had saved these women from my misjudgement. I realise that it takes immense courage to break free from parents with strong personalities to carve out your own, but most people don’t even try.

Story 2: Blissfully unaware

I was once contacted by a father about his daughter’s marriage. He insisted that the parents meet before the boy and girl meet because he wanted to ensure that there was a compatibility of status with the in-laws. He also spent the next 20 minutes grilling me on the guy’s professional capabilities and then concluded that this proposal wasn’t good enough.

I am pretty sure the girl has no idea what her father is upto behind her back. Through other sources, I later found out that the daughter dated a guy who is no different from this guy. If only it was the daughter who’d met this guy, and not her father, may be he would’ve had a chance.

I’ve had the exact same story with a mother as well. And I’ve noticed this happens very often in affluent and so called “liberal” families.

Story 3: Assurance, or over-compensation?

After a one-off diagnostic session, we’d jointly agreed that my client start dating without involving his parents as it was an important life experience he’d missed out on growing up, despite having very liberal parents. So, I shared a contact of someone that I thought he could start talking to. Before he could respond to the proposal, his mother called me. The mother and son do not live together. The mother called to assure me that she was completely fine with the son talking to this girl, and making his own decisions. She really only wanted what was best for him. Strangely, I felt anything but assured.

Story 4: Blurred boundaries

Among the beta users on Dinner Club, there was one person whose profile stood out. He seemed like a genuinely nice guy who’d missed out on opportunities to socialise or have a perspective to dating that an average guy his age does. I was thoroughly impressed that he’d the awareness and inclination to take control of his situation. I was committed to help.

Last week, I’d a date set up for him. He reached out on the morning of the date telling me that he had to back out because his parents didn’t agree with his approach. It broke my heart. Have you ever seen a scene in the movies when someone is falling off a cliff, and another person is trying desperately to pull them up, and the hand slips, and that someone goes plunging down. It felt like that.

All these stories are clear cases of lack of boundaries between adults, and their parents. These people don’t live in large joint families in villages to pay no heed to drawing up boundaries that are functional for living our city lives. I get the need to preserve culture, and connections. They don’t need to come at a cost of living our individual lives. It’s not one or the other.

This isn’t about parenting or this isn’t about culture but this is simply about adulting, and especially in the context of romantic relationships.

If you are 25 or older, single and still living (physically or mentally) with your parents, there are a few things I’d urge you to do before going out to finding a partner:

  • Learn to be an adult, on your own

  • Sort through the baggage that you will take into relationships

  • Build the capability to receive feedback, and nurture relationships

The market provides us with feedback but only in terms of yes and no. The market doesn’t tell us why someone’s rejecting us or why we’re rejecting someone. Without real feedback, we’ll keep going round and round in the market with very little luck. Even worse, we may end up marrying someone whose parents make for better spouses to our parents, rather than finding ourselves a suitable partner.

This is when seeking professional help can be immensely valuable. A few people are fortunate enough to access therapy and coaching, which is a safe space to introspect on our lives, and build capabilities to access timely feedback and take action on our own. After all, this is one of the most important decisions of our lives, and there’s no shame to receiving guidance from a professional.

As a market strategist, a lot of my work through M.B.A has focussed on helping people look both inward as well as outward. Getting an unbiased outsider’s view of yourself as a partner, your needs from a relationship or the baggage you carry can be enlightening to say the very least. We all have a shot at building a better future for ourselves, so we must not miss out on it, if we have a chance.

More from Shapely Gal

Here’s a little sneak peak into the various projects I am working on:

  1. Dinner Club - Of the 44 people who have gone on Dinner Club Date, 42 want to do this again which is very humbling. In terms of matching, 8/22 dates have resulted in seconds, which isn’t terrible at all. However, after some introspection, I’ve decided that this will remain a 3 month experiment as initially conceptualised. Applications to Dinner Club close on 31st July, and the experiment concludes by 31st August. So, sign up if you haven’t already.

  2. Ask Auntie: Comparing everyone you meet in the market to your ex? Watch this video for some perspective.

  3. Arrange Your Own Marriage: This week, I spoke about initiating conversation and interaction protocols in the marriage market. If you’ve ever had any doubts, this video might help clarify them.

  4. Ask Priyanka: Re-kindling an old flame during COVID. How many of you have thought about this? May be you should see this video before you let that thought dictate your choices.

Shapely Gal is a weekly-ish newsletter that discusses love, relationships, marriage and the various markets these are traded on. This newsletter is a concoction of observations, theories, ideas, real stories, figments of imagination and sometimes just rants on romantic relationships.