Buying the companion option.

The things I most often hear people say of late, when I ask them what they are looking for in a relationship, are “freedom, independence, individuality and the likes”. I want to say, “wait, why are you looking to get married again? You can have all of that on your own, you know?”

They want to buy the option of companionship, though.

Marriage is one of these things we just do, it’s an item on our life checklist. We have no clue why we do it, it just needs to be done. I am reminded of this scene from Karan Johar’s Kabhie Khushi Kabhie Gham where Hritik Roshan goes up to his dad, Amitabh Bachchan and says he wants to go to London to do an MBA. His dad says, “Why go all the way to London? Why not do it here?” Hritik Roshan says, “Parampara hai (It’s tradition), Dad”. Brother did an MBA there, so even I want to do.

Like that only marriage is in India.

But you know what guys? It ain’t free. You pay a price, and everyday sometimes, mind you.

Just today, someone told me -

I think most folks like the predictability of marriage. There is someone to hug, comfort, have sex with, companionship. Of course that’s all the good parts, we conveniently avoid everything that could go wrong - you could end up with a psychopath who kills you slowly too.

And so somehow people think that if they looked for freedom, independence or individuality, they’d be protecting themselves from the slow death, but not alone.


So, if we are actually here to buy the option of companionship, we must carefully understand the T&C no?

Benefits:

  • Gives you the time to see how a relationship plays out and affects the rest of your life, which could be net positive over time.

  • Limits exposure to the risk of dying alone.

Downsides:

  • Unlimited exposure to an absolutely horrible time if things go south.

  • Higher opportunity cost (paperwork, societal pressures, etc.)


Depending on who you are, benefits can outweigh downsides or the other way around. Assuming a neutral position, there is no good reason to buy or not buy the option. But I didn’t always think this way. I remember one afternoon when I was walking back home from school with my flatmate, I asked him if he ever plans to marry his girlfriend of 8 years.

He told me that he didn’t have any plans to as he didn’t see a need. He said they live together, get all the tax breaks one gets as a couple in France, and know that they want to be together, so he doesn’t see the need to legitimise it with a wasteful ceremony or pointless paperwork. I didn’t have a come back. I couldn’t quite understand why I was married myself.

Until I was married off at 23, I lived with my parents. I needed their permission to go live with someone else. They needed permission from their society and so, they organised a massive ceremony to take permission from their world. But what did that give me? The option of constant companionship. I wake up everyday, and I can simply spend my day worrying about my latest obsession. I don’t have to worry about whom to hug, have sex with or whom to ask for my morning coffee.

But I pay my price often and thank my stars everyday because you know sometimes…

This happens.

We were in what seemed like a reasonably decent marriage of 5 years, blessed with a little child. Until one day, he came home from work, sat me down and said that he was in love with someone else. He packed his things and left the very next morning. I woke up every morning for the next six months as if it were a bad dream. I’d look around, and not see him, yet couldn’t bring myself to terms with the fact that he’d left me. He’d left us. He didn’t need the option of my companionship anymore.

I felt stupid for not seeing it. I felt stupid for not being able to let him keep the option forever. I felt stupid for not being able to just move on with my life like he did. I felt stupid for even marrying him. Over time, I realised that despite trying to recover from the death of my marriage, these 5 years alone had been far happier than the 5 years I’d been married. I don’t know if it was this realization or watching what I’d accomplished on my own as a single mother, I was done feeling stupid, I was done feeling sorry for something that was only an option.


But then when people come out of this and say they want to get married, it makes me wonder - “Why? Marriage is a honeytrap. If you’ve done it once, why on Earth would you ever do it again?” But I am sure people have their own good reasons, but personally, I haven’t quite wrapped my head around multiple marriages. But love, relationship or simple companionship, I wouldn’t mind. But the problem is, it’s hard to find a companion on demand, despite things like Tinder and especially as you get older. So, I think we try to “lock things down” when we have a chance.


One auntie calls me quite often asking me to meet her daughter so I can help her get married. The daughter doesn’t seem interested in meeting me. Yet auntie tries her best. I feel bad. I want to tell her that it’s okay if her daughter doesn’t want to get married. She needs to stop feeling responsible for her daughter, who is a fully grown adult capable of choosing her future. If she wants to buy herself the option of companionship, she needs to buy it herself. Auntie can try, but unfortunately, she can’t buy it for her.


And then there are people who yearn for companionship, they yearn for benefitting from it and yet go years being so far away from it for reasons we’ll never know. Ok no, maybe some reasons are known:

  • You are a horrible person, and no one wants to live with you, and you haven’t figured that out yet. Ok, that was a bit harsh, but you get the gist.

  • You are indecisive

  • You are an overthinker

  • You have no clue what you want, and have been doing everything wrong

  • You have terrible luck

  • I may have spoken too soon.


Personally, I think the institution of marriage shouldn’t exist. It makes people “marry” just because they think they have to. It’s sort of like how people nowadays think that they need to have their own start up. People think starting up will end all their lives’ problems. In fact, it may be the contrary. Being the smartest person on Earth is never enough to build a successful company. It takes passion, grit, resilience, persistence and much more to do so. Relationships are no different. It doesn’t matter if you are the most beautiful or successful person in the world, nothing in this universe can present a fulfilling relationship on a platter to you.

A relationship is built on the effort and commitment from two individuals to treat their relationship as a third and equally important entity in their lives.

This is the foundation of a monogamous relationship. Even if one person in the relationship feels otherwise at any point, you are down a slippery slope. Unfortunately, commitment and persistence are virtues that are looked down upon in a relationship today. They signal desperation. Desperation makes people uncomfortable. It disturbs the balance of power in a relationship. Suddenly the persistent one becomes less desirable, and the emergency exit door is flung wide open.


How did we go from marriage being a life-long commitment to merely an option for companionship all in a span of 100 years? No, I am not saying I have an issue with marriage being an option. It may very well be the only way we will ever think about relationships in another 100 years, but I suspect we are in some sort of a transitionary phase. Some of us believe that marriage is forever, few others think of it as an option until something better pops up. When these two parties come together in a couple, it’s a recipe for at least one bruised soul.

So, until we are all on the same page about marriage or the absence of it, we’ll be walking all over thousands of poor bruised souls. Until then, those of you fuckbrains who don’t know what you are upto, just be kind ok?

P.S - Each passing day in this business makes me so helpless and angry. I lose a bit of faith in humanity on a daily basis. This is not good, I tell you. I wonder if I was better off selling ill fitting car covers? Only time will tell.