Unaccompanied

“If you cannot find a good companion to walk with, walk alone, like an elephant roaming the jungle. It is better to be alone than to be with those who hinder your progress.”

~ Buddha

‘You’ll have a queue of people lining up to be with you…..’

I still remember when that was said to me, when I came out of the relationship…like it was ever that easy. I wish I was batting them off. This not been my experience in the last few years, that’s for sure. Initially the thought of even spending time with someone else was unappealing. The idea of it all made me feel like I was cheating, how could I be out with someone else? It didn’t feel right, it’s not something I should have been doing.

It also dawned on me that I had no idea how to even begin…where would I begin? I came from a situation that derived from school, I was now out of the education system so there wasn’t the obvious choice of finding someone whilst at school, high school or university where people are more ‘available’ and proximity aids meeting people. We now also lived in a new world, which was becoming more and more reliant on the space created by technology, in which you were a ‘remote’ person.

Starting from the beginning….what a place to be in 2013, in a world where paying for platforms with algorithms seemed to be the only way to go. eHarmony and the such were the ones out there and you had to pay a set (extortionate) amount to be placed on a site on which you had to fill in, a whole detailed application about you as a person. Its even worse when you haven’t figured out the person you are yourself, some of the questions I looked at and was completely perplexed, I didn’t know about me, my preferences and things I needed to consider. And that’s when it became obvious, I had no clue about me a as individual, walking this earth with just my shadow.

I wondered if this was normal, if other people had this same problem when having to think about themselves in this situation? Or was I really just that out of  my depth? I enlisted a friend to help me out and she filled in some parts I just couldn’t even think of. And even though I really didn’t feel right starting to do this I had to. Well, how couldn’t I? I had under 2 years to find someone and get them to marry me. The 30 clock was looming over me and there was a lot to do before this time.

There went the money out of my account and 6 months of me having my profile available for others to view and message me if they found me interesting and I had the same privilege. What was my type? Indian I suppose, I knew nothing else and also didn’t want to be in a position to upset my family or to go through all the turmoil doing anything else would provide.

I went through countless profiles, most were just as boring as mine. Bare minimal and the picture was the only indicator people would really use. It was an exciting notion thinking that by sitting behind your computer and clicking a few buttons could lead you to the person of your dreams. That was the reality, after a few non start conversation and some random approaches, there was only one person that moved on to potential meeting stage. I mean for me, I wouldn’t be asking that question, it wasn’t something I was used to doing and left it for the ‘man’ to do. In the one scenario this did occur, we had exchanged a few messages and I think I felt comfortable meeting. I spent the morning getting ready and picking clothes I could actual go out in and then low and behold I received a message saying he was ‘ill’ and to rearrange… we rearranged and it didn’t happen again, still his fault…that was the last of that interaction and the remaining 6 months, went without nothing expect for an email to pay another fortune.

As I was around the age of potential marriage, my father also decided to come and speak to me about it. I have mentioned before that he wasn’t really one to impose this upon me but it’s the same Indian pressure enforced upon parents of the unmarried – people don’t stop asking why their offspring is not yet married or whether they have met someone. So, my dad decided to ask me and I said no I wasn’t anywhere near, also trying to cover up that I had a break up because obviously Indian people are meant to get married but not have a boyfriend/girlfriend. It’s as if by miracle these things just happen. My mother was my saviour and let my father know what had recently occurred in my life and even to this day I have had no pressure from him. But we did discuss, whether I would be open to them ‘introducing people’. Now, this isn’t the same as it was back in my parents day, this was more if someone came up to them and asked about me in reference to someone who may ‘suit’. I didn’t have an issue with this because in reality where else would I have this option? People are less likely to do this anymore. They are too worried to became involved in a messy situation in case they are blamed for it. Anyway, when I said people brought people to ‘suit’ me, this is not what ensued. There are many situations I don’t really remember anymore, more so because I have blocked them out not because I had many of them.

Foster’s guy – I am not a snob, well maybe I am. I was given a number from someone in our community by my father. And I went on to message this person, with the hope (which I still have) that they may be the ‘one’. Well I don’t even remember what I said, probably something boring because you know…what else do you say except from ‘Hi, how are you? My dad gave me your number…etc etc’. He didn’t have Whatsapp, so I couldn’t see his picture. However, with Facebook using our data, I went on one day and saw his name and then the corresponding picture…he was standing on a patch of grass holding a Fosters can. This was initially unappealing but one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover right? And so I went with the very slow conversation, he was in Sales Support – which is not an issue but realistically for me this wouldn’t work. I had worked to became a Project manager and had a certain lifestyle I wanted to lead. He was older and in this position and whether wrongly or rightly I told my father this wasn’t what I was looking for. I also didn’t find him attractive which was awkward to tell my father but just said he wasn’t my type. He told me to go with it, my mother said the same thing. Well I did, just so they couldn’t say I didn’t try. It ended quite abruptly, he asked me ‘ Do you want to get married?’ to which I reply ‘I do one day’. To which he said ‘Are you doing this for you or your parents’ and I didn’t respond. Clearly, he wasn’t doing it for him.

The free dating apps then became something that became more and more popular and even though Tinder was getting a bad reputation, it seemed to have worked for a few people so I tried it out. Swiping was addictive, being behind your phone and having some power over deciding who you may be able to speak to. When you ‘matched’ it brought a hit of dopamine. A ‘match’ I quickly found out, didn’t mean anything. People wouldn’t speak to you even if you matched, then people who did match would then start a conversation and then it would just end. At the start it was better than it is now, people had the capacity to speak for longer than they do now. But that had meant months of having a conversation with someone, you have never met and there would be a small hope it would go somewhere because you had invested some time. But then one day you will wake up and that person would never message you again. And I think you get to a point where you aren’t going to be ‘that’ person and ask why they had stopped. There was one occasion where I met someone from one of these apps and it was promising. We met the first time and had a good time, even enough for one of the girls sitting next to me asking about us, I told her it was the first date and she said you guys seem really comfortable together. Which gave me some more hope it may go somewhere, well it got to the second date and I have no idea why we went to his office because he had told me that he worked in these new funky shared offices and I was intrigued. Probably my naivety in the situation but we went and obviously, I missed the memo but he had an expectation it would go somewhere further but I just said I needed to leave. And then I never heard from him again. So much for it going somewhere, the only place it would go was a one night stand.

 And that’s all I started finding on these apps. People have so much choice on numerous apps now that even a conversation that you thought was going somewhere would change to you being ghosted. Or you are asked up front if you were just there for a good time. Its became a place that’s just exhausting, doesn’t matter how prestigious the app claims to be the people are just as bad. Ghosting is just normal and as much as its just a person on the other end of a phone or PC its exhausting to think you just aren’t enough for someone.

Ultimately all I want, is for it to happen the ‘natural’ way.  Being out having a good time and someone approaches you, or you catch someone’s eye. And that happens less and less because people now have the apps to do the work instead of embarrassing themselves.

These experiences just put me off, I wasn’t looking for someone to marry anymore because 30 was too close and one massive learn for me was that you can’t just get married to anyone. I am not saying I had any prospective partners but through these situations plus many more put me into a different mind frame. This wasn’t about what society was telling me to do this was about what I needed to do for me. And so I deleted all the apps. I had found some strength in not doing things for other people but now was faced with the reality that it wasn’t easy and maybe I didn’t have what it took to be in a relationship. I felt vulnerable and I felt alone. And so started my cycle into a dark place and a 3 year ‘dry’ spell….

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