Leading you on without intending to

I was around 20 when I was insanely in love. Not with a guy, but the idea of him. I always knew that. He was a personification of everything our society desires from a partner - above average looks, smartness, niceness and confidence. I thought I fit that bill too, more or less, so it shouldn’t be too hard for him to desire me the same way, no?


These things don’t work like that, there’s no logic to this. It took me very long to realise this, and obviously I learnt it the hard way.

He was a nice guy

He didn’t quite have it in him to break my heart by admitting that he didn’t feel the same way about me. He probably also enjoyed the attention he got from me. We went on dates, talked a lot and he strung me along for very long. It always appeared as if time could magically change our relationship to one that’s more equal.

I was almost always the one initiating conversation, but he played along so well that it was almost impossible for me to tell that I was treading an asymptote. When he didn’t respond to my texts immediately but came back a day later saying he was busy, I mistook his niceness for desire to talk to me. So you see, it was impossible for me to ever abandon hope.

The moment of truth came when I decided to establish better boundaries for myself, and asked him if time could change how he felt about me. His niceness was always genuine, so he told me the truth. That did it for me.

These relationships are a bit like the Schrodinger’s cat

By refusing to read the signs or delaying the moment that you express your feelings to someone, you believe that there is still a possibility for them to love you back. You’re worried to express your feelings with the fear of killing the cat (love), but the reality is that the cat is already dead. Your refusal to see it by not opening the box doesn’t change a thing.

I was young, and still very nimble to handle the hurt, get up and walk with my head held high.

Ok no, that was only partly true.

There were already 10 other boys waiting for me before I was done processing my pain, so it was easier to move on. It’s a whole other ball game when you don’t have that kind of supply in the market to deal with rejection on your own.

I want to talk about this in the context of arranged marriages

It is a well acknowledged fact that people shop around - at any given point of time, you are seeing several people until you commit to be exclusive with one person. When both of you aren’t as interested in each other, being each other’s option may work. When one of you is more interested in the other, that’s when someone is bound to be hurt.

You’ve been in the marriage market for a while now, and you’ve met enough people to know that it’s not easy to find the right fit. So, when you meet someone who vaguely fits the bill, and you feel like you can “work” with that, you are quick to invest.

Except, your investment has little to no bearing on how the other person feels about you, unless this person has no idea about their potential and your validation matters. But there’s a pretty high likelihood that such people wouldn’t qualify for your attention in the first place unless you’re able to see beyond your subconcious checklist.

You begin to narrow down your choice, while the other person may begin to broaden theirs. You’ve already jumped into courtship mode, so you refuse to read the signs that indicate that they may not share your intent. Since you are definitely an option, they don’t want to do anything to jeopardise that.

But will you ever go from being an option to a definite choice?

Ummm… likely not.

Unfortunately, time won’t tell either.

So, who do you blame?

Them? Yourself? The market?

I don’t know.

But only you have the power to change your situation.

You’ve to stop trying to make assumptions or answer your own questions. By answering your own questions, you’re avoiding listening to the real answer. We all do that sometimes, because we’re too afraid to find out. That’s okay, because it takes a while to muster up the will to handle the truth. But it’s inevitable.

If you desire someone, and wish that they reciprocated your feelings, especially in the context of arranged dating/ marriages, you have a responsibility to express your feelings and enquire about theirs.

If they need time, and you’ve time to give, do so. But if you don’t have time to give, you’d rather find out sooner than later because you only lose more time engaging and then, disengaging before you get engaged again.

Yes yes, all pun intended.

More from Shapely Gal

Here’s a little sneak peak into some of the projects I’ve been working on…

Behind The Scenes: Six episodes of this series are out now, and the response has been so sweet. I’ve started accepting nominations for Season 2 now. If there’s an awesome couple you know that could be a part of this series, write to me?

Break-Up Recovery: I was trying to put together a little break-up recovery cheat sheet for a friend, so I asked people on Twitter how they coped with it in the first couple of months and here’s what they had to say. Someone also shared this podcast which might be useful if you want to recover quietly on your own.

The Marriage Material: This is a specially designed 3-month personalised coaching program to help bring out your “marriage-materialness” so you can shine in the arranged marriage market. You get to explore everything from figuring out if you are ready to be married, defining your partner type, putting yourself out there to have real conversations and engaging meaningfully on dates so you can get a step closer to building an enriching relationship that is right for you.

Sneak peak into what I’m reading/ watching/ listening to:

Small Country by Gaël Faye - I learnt about Burundi, thanks to my daughter. So, when I found this book about Burundi, I jumped at the opportunity of being able to learn more through a story. You know that communal disharmony is prevalent everywhere but given how much of it you see at home, it’s easy to feel as if you’re alone. I learnt that reading makes you feel less alone.

Nayattu - this is a Malayalam movie about being caught in a system where there are are no real villains but only victims. This is about 3 policemen who get embroiled in a political situation and are unfortunately victimised by circumstance. The movie makes you feel so hopeless, and to be able to create that feeling takes some great story telling.

The Great Indian Kitchen - another malayalam movie about yet another system, in this case, patriarchy and about how women are entangled in it. This is the story of almost every Indian household and it is told just as is, and that’s the beauty of it. Except this movie gives you hope, without really intending to.

Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbag - this was one of those kindle recommended ads that I bought into. It was super quick read but I would’ve preferred this in the form of a play at Ranga Shankara. I can’t imagine when I’ll ever go back and watch another play there. Sigh.

Shapely Gal song of the month: Not Ok by Kygo.

Shapely Gal is a monthly 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.