If you haven’t been living under a rock these past few months, you’ve undoubtedly read or at least heard about Tracy McMillan’s Huff Post article, “Why You’re Not Married.” The article, which states six valid reasons why women are still single, has become the most read article on the Huffington Post ever. After reading the article and being South Asian, a culture in which getting married carries so much social and familial pressure, I started to think why so many smart and successful South Asian women I know are still not married?
Ms. McMillan’s article applies to women of all origins, but South Asian chicks may have a few more issues added to the list. I have spent the past few weeks interviewing, researching, analyzing and observing my single female friends and comparing it my own strings of relationships. I have hence surmised that South Asian culture may have also thrown in a few monkey wrenches into your master path towards marital bliss. Added on to Ms McMillan’s list, these points should also be considered.
1. You’re Scared.
You maybe scared of spiders, heights or clowns, but that’s not the reason you are still single. You’re scared of actually living your own life because you are too busy living the life your parents want you to live. If you’re sneaking beer and beef on the sly, this means you!
When it comes to guilt, South Asian parents have a corner on the market. Not only do they let you know that you have disappointed them, but they will make you feel like you’ve invoked the wrath of all of your dead ancestors and you inevitably will believe them. After all, you come from an ancient land, so it follows that you need to uphold ancient traditions and by ancient traditions, I mean that you have to live a life that your parents can boast to their new friends.
What you are forgetting is that you now live in America which makes you part American, whether your dead ancestors like it or not. You are navigating through completely new territory when it comes to figuring out just who the heck you are. Hence, it’s perfectly normal to want to find someone more like the real you and not the version your parents want you to be. So if your idea of a good time is joining the local Santacon pub crawl dressed like a whorey version of ole St Nick himself, by all means do. Just don’t expect that miraculously after marriage, the nice vegetarian boy that your parents got you engaged to will also want to engage in naughty Santa behavior. Better plan? Be who you are and save everyone the heartache of yet another heartache.
2. You Don’t Know How to Date.
We come from a culture where traditionally, it is the parents (and extended family) who set out on a search for a suitable mate in the ancient practice of arranged marriages. Now that we are in the so-called modern world and we have eschewed that tradition as too conservative, we have brought it upon ourselves to find us a life mate. But do you even know how? Even if you put yourself in a room full of eligible men, would you even know how to approach them? We’ve been taught to let men pursue us like a good Bollywood girl…and now we have to actually approach them? Well yes…you do. And if you don’t, I guarantee the next girl over will do so with a quickness that would shame the Shilpa Shetty.
So ladies, it’s not enough to just go out, you need to go out and connect. I suggest grabbing the nearest copy of Dating for Dummies and practice, practice, practice till you meet the man of your dreams.
And let me add a little something more here. If you are seriously looking to get married especially to someone from your culture, then you need to make it your focus to do so. Tell your cousins, tell your friends, heck…even tell your aunties that you are looking to settle down and would they know someone? Sound like an arranged marriage? You betcha, though I like to consider it more of an “assisted” search party. I remember meeting two sisters a few years ago who were hell-bent on getting married. They literally told the world that that’s what they were focused on and sure enough, within the year, they had both found themselves suitable doctor husbands and are now living their married dream with two point five children each.
3. You Want a Trophy.
Sometimes, many South Asian women will remain single for longer than necessary since they are waiting for the perfect “trophy” husband to show off at their next cousin’s wedding. We all know who that is–he has the body of Tyson Beckford, the face of David Beckham, a Trump size bank account and George Clooney’s charm all morphed into one religiously appropriate Brown Boy. Yeah, like that even exists. And even if it did, wouldn’t he be chasing one smarter, more sophisticated Kareena Kaif type, or two or three? Forget what impresses society and be more realistic about your expectations. Give yourself permission to date beyond the expected and you may very well find that the adorable, Jewish and somewhat quirky guy with the potential to offer you a lifetime of respect and friendship to be your perfect mate.
4. You’re Superwoman.
Ah women’s rights. That is indeed a tricky one. When you come from a culture that historically doesn’t offer women equal pay or equal opportunities, it stands to reason that minute you get a chance to get that fabulous education and fabulous career, some women tend to over do it in terms of our can-do attitude. Sure it takes a certain amount of balls to make it in the boardroom, but realistically, how many men do you know who are looking for a boss when it comes to marriage. The best partnerships happen when both parties are on equal footing. Without forgetting that you are a feminist (I am too), there are certain roles that still work best for a man, and other roles that work best for a woman. Blame it on biology or what have you, but I still think men want a woman who is both smart and independent and soft and feminine.
So there you have it. My two cents on why you are South Asian and single. It’s difficult enough straddling two cultures sometimes, and finding an appropriate partner who shares your unique way of thinking isn’t always easy. Make it easy for yourself and your future partner by first being realistic about you and your expectations. Marriage is not only about the couple, but also includes extended families, cultural holidays, religious celebrations, babies, cousins, in-laws, mortgages, dirty clothes, dishes, etc. The best bet on making a halfway decent marriage is by understanding yourself enough to know that you’ll spend a lot more time giving in the relationship than taking, and when you are ready to do that for the rest of your life, then you are ready for marriage.
I think Tracy McMillan has a real grasp on the ins and outs of relationships and why the journey to a life together begins first with you alone. If her first article got you thinking, and this article maybe got you thinking more and you still want more to think about…consider her newest book, “Why You’re Not Married . . . Yet: The Straight Talk You Need to Get the Relationship You Deserve.” Now available on Amazon.