In the quest for love, we end up single more often than we’d like. Throw into the mix the number of people you would date before marriage, plus divorce stats, post-divorce…and that’s a lot of time in between that one spends being single. Do the math!
In fact, 85 per cent of relationships end in breakups and 50 per cent marriages in divorce, states Hellen Chen, matchmaker and author of Love Seminar. To quote another survey (the University of Virginia National Marriage Project), marriage is a “capstone” and not so much a “cornerstone”, something one does after getting other life goals in place.
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Being single is turning out to be a happy space to be in, given that we’re the centre of our universe more than ever before. We’ve pretty much stopped pretending otherwise. And popular culture is quick to reflect that.
While we try to tell ourselves that true love comes to those who wait, there’s always the option of swiping right if you’re impatient. And swipe left to be single again. Films like My Best Friend’s Wedding and even the Brave Disney princess Merida, have shown us not to be afraid of being single. But, whether it’s choice or chance, we have learnt to fashion flourishing lives that have nothing to do with the presence or absence of a partner. And, whether single or one half of a couple, our outer life carries on uninterrupted, without mirroring our inner chaos, which we know comes and goes. And, in doing that, we celebrate ourselves. Maybe, one day, we can give to ourselves some of the unconditional love we reserve for our partners. We’re getting there!
Our movies are growing up too. Take Karan Johar, who peddled candy floss to the 90s’ generation and in Kal Ho Na Ho, made sure Shah Rukh Khan’s character got Preity Zinta and Saif’s characters together, since he and the audience knew he was about to die. Not so in his 2016 outing Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, where Alizeh (Anushka Sharma) pulls off her cap and announces to Ayan (Ranbir Kapoor) that she has cancer, in the fourth stage, wearing it like a badge of honour. She’s not afraid her best-friend Ayan won’t find love, since that’s not important. Maybe he will, maybe he won’t, life goes on. There’s no goodbye death scene either. We’re all on our own journeys here.
Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil was an ode to singledom, where all the characters remained single at the end. The characters mostly lived life’s trajectory alone and, if they were in a relationship, it wasn’t long before they went back to being on their own. The quest for love continued, but heartbreak didn’t stop them from releasing books, attending soirees, become an internet singing sensation and flinging caution to the winds to embrace passionate romances and, then, being single again. Much like real life.
Love, from being the point of life, is now merely a part of it. In 2017, love isn’t the biggest thing, we are.
(The writer is an editorial consultant and co-founder of The Goodwill Project. She tweets @anuvee) Views expressed are personal.