Have you defined what it is you want, asks dating coach Simran Mangharam
Sachi’s sister signed her up for a coaching session with me. I sensed her reluctance when my email and messages received no response until the last minute. And when she opened with, “Listen, I really don’t want to do this.”
I promised not to pepper her with clichés. I said we could just chat, to indulge her sibling. Sachi is a 32-year-old lawyer. She loves her job and the life she has built for herself. She loves the fact that she can take off and travel any time she wants to (pre-pandemic, of course). She likes the fact that on some days she can stay in her pyjamas and have only copious amounts of coffee on the menu.
She seems genuinely happy and I can relate to that. I was voluntarily single until I met the man who would become my husband, at 35. In my sessions, I often remind singles that there are the right reasons and the wrong reasons to marry or enter into a relationship.
Age, being “settled” in a job, having friends and cousins who are rapidly marrying and parents who won’t stop pushing — these are less than ideal reasons. Falling in love, wanting commitment and romantic companionship, finding your life more meaningful with your partner than without them — these are some of the best reasons.
The days of “That’s just how it works” are long over. People who marry and start families solely because it’s what was expected of them at the time, can tend to feel in the long-term like they never really got to consider what they wanted.
Yet, how many singles ask themselves that crucial question: What do I want? In a growing hook-up culture, articulating what one wants has become even more complicated. I see mixed signals in many of the singles I coach. There are some who want to be in a relationship but don’t admit that’s what they want. In others, I hear hesitation and statements such as, “But I think it’s time”.
Dig deeper and it often emerges that they are lonely, want physical intimacy and seek romantic love. It’s time we stopped hesitating to admit what we want — whether that wish is to be in a relationship or get married or, like Sachi, enjoy being single. The more you verbalise what you want with conviction the more likely it is that those around you will recognise and respect that.
Pressure from parents is always tough to handle, but, given reasonable parents — and when it comes down to it, most are reasonable — it’s not impossible to get them to understand your point of view. A calm, patient approach has worked for quite a few singles, including me, in my long years of being unattached.
First, though, you have to define for yourself what you want from your romantic life. Be unapologetic. As you introspect, be honest. Do you want a relationship? Right now, later, or not at all? What kind of commitment would you like to make? What would your ideal life look like? There are those who fail at relationship after relationship but never stop to discover why, or what they could do differently. Others seek a relationship but don’t want to put in the work. Recognise what you would need to do differently as well, to reach your goal.
As with most things in life, the more clearly you can articulate your goal, the greater your chances of chasing it down effectively. So what would it take to elevate your life and bring you joy? Do you like being single — or would YOU like to change that status?
(Simran Mangharam is a dating and relationship coach and can be reached on email@example.com)