How Extended Families Believe There Exists ‘THAT Singles World’

I am single at 33. My brother who is 35 now, was married in 2006 and today has a lovely 4-year-old daughter.

We have an aunt who I am very close to. She is the coolest aunt ever. At almost 70 she is learning to use a laptop and the Internet so she can check the NAV of her investments. She wants to own an email id so she can receive pictures of her grandchildren. Cool, eh? She can send text messages on the phone albeit she still hasn’t figured out the space key. Doesn’t matter, people get the message. To me, she is like a friend with whom I share everything. A friend, who suggests a live in relationship over having a baby on my own, she is genuinely cool. She is a friend!

Is she as close or a friend to my brother? NO!

She has visited my brother 5 times since 2006.
How many times has she visited me since 2006? NEVER.

There is no need to. There is no societal pressure to visit a single person.

What happens when one has a baby, there has been a death in the family, my brother has organized a puja, or when my brother’s brother-in-law gets engaged and then married, when they are throwing a birthday party for my niece? The aunt and everyone else is obliged to attend or visit whatever may be the case.

Single people don’t have most of these occasions.
But we have birthday celebrations of our own, we have viral fever days, we could organize a puja, we could be celebrating professional success, there could be a death in the family. Is the extended family obliged to visit/attend? NO!

Why?
I am assuming, besides the fact that there are no societal rules they will be breaking by not visiting a single person in the family, they honestly do believe single people live in ‘THAT singles world’ in their own unique lives. And that single people expect nothing from the extended family or maybe even should not expect anything.
Not true.

To give my aunt the benefit of doubt, maybe she thinks by visiting me she will be disrupting THAT singles world I live in. But “Dear aunt, don’t you do the same when you visit my brother. In fact he may be feeling obliged to welcome you by breaking his own routine and that of his wife and kid. In my case too, I will make way for a visit from you. Because I love you.”

Now I have never told my aunt about how I feel until recently and her cool answer was ‘you are being silly, I will visit you next month’. Isn’t she nice?

And when I told the same to a few other not so cool beings in the extended family something to the effect of, ‘I think you don’t visit me because you have no reason to, would you come if I threw a birthday party?’ The answer I got is “It is true, why don’t you get married and we will have reasons to visit you. And what will we do at your birthday party? You will have your friends around.”
The point was completely lost on them.
And a few of them were in denial and will whack their brains about why they haven’t visited me.

My aunt lives in Gujarat. But I have tons of cousins in Mumbai where I live. Have any one of them ever visited me? NO! Have they visited my brother? Yes, because they had a reason to.

To a large extent this is true with friends too. A birthday party thrown by a friend’s husband for his beloved wife will get close to 100% attendance. But it’s always easy to back out of my birthday party for which I sent an invite myself.

Why?
Again, I am assuming that besides the fact that they need to call just 1 person (me) instead of 2 (husband and wife) with an excuse to backout, the invitees know they won’t be judged by other friends/couples if they don’t attend. Again no obligation, after all the married ones have more responsibilities. Maybe a party in ‘THAT singles world’ they believe won’t be as much fun.

Also it is ok to go to a single person’s party without a gift? Carrie Brandshaw says in the Sex and the City Episode 9 ‘A woman’s right to shoes’ in Season 6 – “And if I don’t ever get married or have a baby then what? I get nothing? Think about it if you are single after graduation there isn’t 1 single occasion where people celebrate you.” This is when her Manolo Blahniks are stolen at a friend’s party and the friend refuses to pay for her expensive lifestyle. She talks about how she has spent over 2300 dollars on gifts that celebrate her friend’s choices of marriage and baby etc.

I am repeating myself, all the ‘whys’ are my assumptions and I will be happy to know if there could be other reasons as to why people behave the way they do and assume the existence of THAT world of singles.

girls night out

I am single. I have been for a long time now. More than choice I believe it is an effort. It is natural for humans to ‘heal and move on’ and sometimes ‘move on and heal’.

After a series of ‘move on and heal cycles’ and 1 marriage, I decided not to heal, not heal on the surface. (effort) I decided to look below the surface. (effort) It made me both happy and sad. Because there was tons of healing to be done below the surface but then the thought of healing and moving once and for all (a lot of effort) is immensely liberating.

2 years and a few months of effort later, I can say I am healed beneath the surface and ready to move on.

In the meantime since I was looking at everything very objectively, I generated my own insights for why the society (and me very much a part) behaved the way we did about and around those who weren’t married.

To begin with I believe a few words we use frequently need to be reconsidered.
One – ‘us singles’ – most singles are hoping to leave the tribe, so singles must stop this solidarity crap, stop behaving like victims and speak as themselves and not as though they belong to a union fighting for its rights.
Two – ‘that singles world’ – Really? Like which is the best airline to take in order to get there? There is no world of singles. Just a simple example is that the married ones on days wish there weren’t married, others sometimes wish they were.

There is nothing against stereotypes, they help the working of the society in a lot of ways and more importantly they do come from truth. But here is the irony; by stereotyping you are displaying a stereotypical behaviour towards singles. And there is nothing against that too because the thing about truth is that it need not be true – my truth may not necessarily be THE truth.

What I wish to do though is talk about my insights and observations. There has been a realization that more often than not the stereotypical behaviour towards singles comes from ignorance. Our society does not know any better. There are no books that give tips on ‘what not to do around/say to singles’; at the same time nothing of what follows is meant to be in that direction either. Ignorance exists but I am not holding the torch for anything here.

What will follow will be stories and observations weaved together in a manner that will make you ponder, reflect, smile and share.

I wish to share something I wish a lot of married girls in my world and others understood about – ‘Girls Day Out’.
I am going to talk about girls here because married men are capable of having a ‘boys day out’ with other married men, probably because they don’t end up whining about their marriage. But when it comes to women it usually goes like this. “I am sick of my husband and kids, my boring married life and married friends, let me call a single friend and plan a ‘girls day out’”.

The best part is the phone call. “Hey! Lets catch up, I just need a ‘girls day out’”.
So… why don’t you call the women you hang out with otherwise. And why do we assume that the single friend will be available. And even if they have something planned it is easy for them to change plans to suit yours.

Here is news for you… You did not mean it that way but… in THAT SINGLES WORLD that YOU imagine… Your single friend does not feel very respected when this happens.

What you should really do is call the married women you hang out with and try not to talk about your marriages. Sure, invite your single friends here. That will be a true ‘girls day out’. Meeting a single friend could make you feel miserable about the freedom they have and you don’t.

There is one more word I have a problem with i.e. ‘single’. Single should not be word used in this context at all. It can ONLY and only be a word if you are going to call the others ‘plural’. It is final then, one is either single or plural.