We all have that friend: good-looking, intelligent and well-read, driven woman that speaks four languages and who - like Katherine Heigl in every rom-com - can't find a decent date. Every guy she goes out with is an asshole; she constantly finds herself dating "below" her league, and on the verge of giving up on committed relationships altogether. I AM that friend. And for the lot of us who come with a standard degree of confidence, believe we are intellectually stimulating and surely gainfully employed - I write these observations and notes to acknowledge just how frustratingly difficult it is for us to find love. I write them, if for no other reason, simply to let you know that you're not alone - so to speak.
1. We know what we want, and sure as hell what we don't. Who knew that would come in the way!
We've empowered ourselves with reading, awareness and engaging with the world on an equal platform as men and simply owing to this, we are aware that a relationship entails more than just an educated man that's financially sound and doesn't beat us. We look for an intellectually stimulating partner that is well-read, passionate about something and has his own identity. One that helps keep the vehicle of conversation moving. That respects not just us but women in general. One that, and this one's important, doesn't get his idea of enjoyable (for us both) sex from sneaky adolescent viewings of porn. We, as smart, women, know what we're looking for. And I think we can all agree this creature I just described, he's bloody hard to find.
2. How hard is it to find a guy who won't treat me like a child? As it turns out, pretty hard.
An age-old belief, a range of ambiguous scientific studies and ample anecdotal evidence to support it, lead us to operate under the assumption that we're more mature than most men our age. So the last thing we, as independent women who are more than adept at taking care of ourselves, will stand for is a man baby-ing us. And it is JUST SO HARD to find someone that cares about you, but won't disrespect your sense of autonomy. Be a partner to me, not a parent. And yet, this feels like it's way too much to ask.
3. My interests and ambitions need to be taken seriously, and not as mere 'hobbies' or 'timepass'.
Women in our country, nay, all over the world have been cursed with never really being taken seriously unless what we're talking about is household stuff or babies. No matter how progressive we get, our passions and interests and even our professional ambitions get brushed aside day in and day out. While women in the past may have worked around it, our generation of well-read, self-aware, intellectual women simply refuse to be treated like housewives with 'hobbies'.
4. We're looking for an unmistakable equal in the responsibilities and decision-making that come with a relationship.
The men of the world, especially in India, have grown up with a sense of entitlement that women have long made their peace with. They're the ones that need to be pleased and stood by, and we need to do the pleasing and standing by. Well, not any more. The smarter ones of us have built our own worth and really believe that the only workable model of a relationship involves standing by that goes both ways. And we won't settle for less.
5. Men have always been the main bread-winner; anything different makes them insecure.
I know, it sounds like a pretty beaten down line, but the reality remains unchanged. It's a fact that men still find women who earn more than them to be threatening as long-term partners. Regardless of how few may admit it, and how men may not even be solely to blame for it, it IS seen as emasculating if a woman contributes more to 'providing for the family' than the man does since, you know, it's his designated role, his territory. And this doesn't make dating any easier for professionally advanced women.
6. Men provide, women do the care-taking. And we will just not have it.
It's just how they're brought up. In fact, it's how all of us are brought up. No matter how progressive we get, we've somehow never really managed to escape this system of life-role-allotment. And there is a hefty number of women out there who will acquiesce to, if not happily embrace, this life-role. Which is why, as a woman of independent financial and intellectual means, finding a partner that you can together break these allotted roles with is more a rarity than the norm. Before I'm a daughter, wife or mother or even a goddess, I am myself and I'm looking for someone who values me for it.
7. A successful, independent woman threatens the modern day man. Yes, even today.
The problem lies just the way the media/society has fed images of 'desirable' women to the male population of this generation. Smart, but not too challenging; successful, but not so much that she puts work before her man; meticulous but not a 'ball-buster'. You may be sensitive, sweet and insecure, but your intelligence makes you threatening. You may not have muscles and a big d*ck, but men will look at you as competition. If you seem too smart or accomplished, you're typecast as 'non-dating material'. If you're witty and competitive, you're viewed as challenging and overbearing.
8. We too, are guilty of asking from time to time, "Is it even worth it?"
To any intelligent woman, the experience of dating someone new is not dissimilar to what I imagine a trip to the Arctic Tundra is like. It is cold, uncomfortable and tedious to the extent it makes you question your every motivation. At a certain point in life, we grow comfortable with ourselves. We've discovered ways to keep ourselves creatively and intellectually engaged. And while a fulfilling romantic relationship seems like an appealing idea, the time and effort it takes to make that connection with someone from scratch, sometimes inevitably feels like time and effort we could've put into a book we've been meaning to read or initiating a new project at work instead.
9. The life of a successful, dedicated professional - man or woman - is rather taxing.
Even if we do find in ourselves the daring resolve to try and meet someone new, how much time do we have?! Let's face it, after a day's work of meeting deadlines and coordinating between teams, how much time and energy do you have left to clean up, meet a stranger and try and strike a connection with them? The time-crunch is a real, people. The most I can seem to manage on any given day is a few flirty texts and I'm frikkin' done.
10. We are perfectionists. C'mon, say it with me - We are perfectionists.
I'm not saying it's a bad thing, mind you. I still do believe there aren't many good reasons for me to settle for someone I don't think deserves *points to self* all this. But it can't be a great thing either - if it's causing me to miss out on any shots at a partnership that may not seem as obvious at first. We're unforgiving and we get out too quick simply because we know better than to settle or waste our own time. But patience may not always mean you're settling. The way I look at it, I wouldn't lower my standards, no. I would simply give a relationship more time, get to know a guy before I dismiss him as 'not good enough'.
11. Our most prided traits may not be what every man is looking for in their partner.
We're evaluated by a prospective partner on what lies beyond our most impressive traits - traits that made us the CEO, the editor or the business-monger. While we pride ourselves thoroughly on these traits, what we fail to consider is that each of these traits has a flip side. Bright can sometimes be opinionated, analytical often comes off as difficult, ambitious as neglectful. This holds true for both genders and before I write the world off as wrong just because I'm single, I feel I need to take a look at what I'm bringing to the table that may be very desirable in a professional/educational setting but not so much in a relationship. I'm not suggesting that we dumb ourselves down any more than I'd suggest a 'nice guy' douchebag himself up to seem 'manlier'. But it may serve us to be aware of the fact that while we undeniably gather a lot of admiration for our drive and intellect, there's a lot more than this admiration that a partner looks for in a long-term relationship.
At the end of the day, you've got to remember what a catch you are and you have something to offer that no one else does. As hard as it may be, and as long as it might take, the wait may be worth it. Because you're worth it. (This message was NOT brought to you by L'Oreal Paris.)