Why is this so overwhelming?

This week’s newsletter attempts to rationalise why the decision of finding a life partner is so overwhelming. Because, it is overwhelming.

Thanks to Dinner Club, Indian matchmaking and its aftereffects, I’ve been speaking to more people than I can really keep tab. The one common thread in these conversations is how overwhelming the decision of choosing a life partner is. People go from having a check-list to not and the other way round too, but mostly nothing ever helps.

This is the first big decision most people make as adults since pretty much everything prior to this is decided by parents, society and entrance exam evaluators. Although you hear your parents saying things like how you perform on the 10th boards or 12th boards will decide the rest of your life, you know it really doesn’t. But who you marry definitely determines the way you live for the rest of your life or however long your marriage lasts.

If it’s scary to be responsible for a decision with such significant repercussions, it’s understandable. You are not alone, to say the very least.

So, how can you make it easier to decide?

First of all, you need to realise that this isn’t IIT-JEE or CAT where lakhs of people apply. This means you need to stop acting like the exam evaluator whose primary aim is to eliminate applicants. If you’re lucky, you’ll meet a handful of people who are genuinely interested in building a relationship with you. So, your job is to figure out who you are likely to enjoy building this relationship with. That’s all.

Even if they satisfy 5/5 things on your list of absolute non-negotiables in a relationship, there will be a million things you will hate about them over time. But guess what? It’s okay. If someone ever tells you that marriages are 100% positive, they’ve no idea what they’re talking about.

You may be in a relationship where you have great conversations and you push each other constantly in order to grow together, but you may also find that your partner is dependent or connected with his/ her family in ways you can never imagine or tolerate. What are you going to do then? Leave?

This decision is not just about figuring out what you want from a relationship, it’s also about understanding your own tolerance for imperfections.

What to do about red flags?

Dude, red flags are all over the place. The fact that my husband wants to eat chapatti everyday is a red flag. Although this affects me on a daily basis, I’d much rather be with a guy who doesn’t judge me when we argue occasionally.

I have insane control issues, and I hate to be left hanging, without some sort of a resolution when there’s a disagreement/ argument. I married a man (who is still my husband) because we always talk things out although we’ve still not figured out how to do it calmly. But what matters is that both of us seek and invest time/ energy into resolution.

Where you draw the line is really up to you. But I am just going to say one thing - some things affect relationships more than the others. So, make sure you worry about things that matter to you in the long run.

But you want spark also no?

I know people act like spark is one very mysterious thing that is intangible and out of this world and you’ll only know when it happens and all that jazz. But who are we kidding? Spark is just a polite word for erection and the equivalent of that for a woman. We use it to mask our embarrassment for feeling superficial. If you care about looks, you care about looks. If you care about intelligence, you care about intelligence. If you care about the effect your partner has on other people, you do. If you’re insecure and need someone else to make you feel good, it is what it is. But calling it spark and pretending like the universe will tell you when to marry is a little naive, don’t you think?

Every constraint you add to your set of criteria is like adding a polarising filter. The more the number of filters, the less the light that passes. God forbid you’ve two filters that are orthogonal to each other, nothing will reach you.

Finding a partner isn’t like going for a buffet meal where you’ll get a little bit of everything for a lower price. In fact, it’s the contrary. If you eat gobi, then you can’t get baby.

What to do then?

If I had to put it the Amazon way (I used to be employed with them until a year ago) -

Choosing a life partner is like…

  • walking the fine line between deep dive and bias for action

  • it’s about thinking big or long-term

  • it’s about inventing and simplifying your criteria

  • it’s about hiring and developing the best prospect

  • it’s about being customer obsessed, and customer in this case is the relationship you will build with another individual.

  • it’s about learning, and being curious about the other person and being open to the possibilities of what you can build together

  • its about earning trust - of yourself as well as your partner

  • it’s about insisting on the highest standards for each other

  • it takes backbone, disagreeing and committing to your relationship

  • it’s also about taking ownership for your decision

  • it’s about frugality - accomplishing more with less. What matters is the relationship you build, nobody cares about who you married

  • it’s also about being right a lot

  • and at the end of the day it’s about DELIVERING RESULTS.

Once you’ve gotten into a relationship, it is always DAY 1.

More from Shapely Gal

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

  1. Dinner Club - I cannot believe that in less than two weeks this will all be over and I’ll have so much time on my hands. This will allow me to explore scaling (or not) and tech that can help do it (or not). Thanks to all the very awesome people who’ve reached out to help. I am ever so grateful.

  2. Ask Auntie: Okay this one’s a bit harsh, but I felt like someone had to say it. Those of you who know me know that this doesn’t end here and there will be a video for parents of women too. So don’t get too excited.

  3. Auntie Vs Algorithm: I did this fun video podcast with actor and influencer, Urvashi Goverdhan that you can check out here. It’s full of puns, jokes and laughs.

  4. M.B.A. - I’ve had a lot of women sign up with me for assistance, so I am going to have to temporarily halt applications from women. Who knew anyone would suffer from the problem of too many women, huh?

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.