You identity or individuality is something very unique. Like the fingerprint of your thumb, It varies from person to person. And it is actually what makes you the true YOU. But what if you lose the one thing that sets you apart from a crowd of people?
It is hard enough as it is to maintain your individuality on its own, but a few external factors make it even more impossible. Especially if you are an Indian.
How Indian Society misses the true meaning of a Relationship and converts it into a Vague Concept
From the time of your birth you are being told to have a certain sets of view and opinions, passed onto you by your parents and elders around you. If you are a girl, you grow up being told to be careful, if you are a boy you are told to be stronger, braver. There is always an external force making your decisions for you, either directly or by some way or other. When you reach a certain age where you have to choose what career you want to pursue, once again it is not about you. You have choices given by your parents, and you may choose any one of them. There is free will, but calculated free will. Your knowledge of what you know is right for you is of a very minor importance.
Among all of this, it is hard for a young, impressionable mind to know where he/she truly stands.
Then comes the special stage we are going to talk about here; Relationships.
If you are someone who lives in India, has ever been or is in a relationship and is of an age anywhere below 25, you know it is a STRUGGLE. And these struggles are not the one that you experience with your partner in a relationship, these are the extra precaution you need to take when you decide to begin to date.
The concept of dating in India is a completely different thing from the Western countries. It is finally in the years after 2010 has dating actually evolved from a taboo. So we can say it is a fairly new concept, especially among young teens. Apart from what is actually taught to us as children, dating is not a sin. It is a common activity borne by fundamental biological changes in body. When you hit puberty, you begin to have thoughts about the opposite sex. And dating is only the brainchild. You look at someone who’s even remotely attractive, and not just physically but also in their personality, you are bound to be curious about them. It is your body’s hormonal response. But, imagine yourself as a young teen, barely knowing anything about what relationships are because you haven’t really been introduced to it and it’s not your fault too. We are bound by society. Now if you in such a situation, jump into a relationship, will it be the best idea?
The Problems with our Idea of a Relationship
Getting into a relationship at a young age is not wrong. I’m myself a person who began quite early in age. But it is not the relationship that is the problem, but the mind-set that we get into it with. We do not know the workings of a relationship at such a young age, and the Indian upbringing does not allow most of us to venture into it. So we step into a relationship completely unaware of what to expect and what is expected of us. Most of the time, Indian teens between the ages of 13 to 16 years jump into relationship because it is a ‘trendy’ thing to do. And it is not limited to that age group. If you are someone single in your 30s, I bet you a million rupees that at least one relative is going to poke you with the marriage card. So this is the scenario in India: you are not supposed to even mention dating or in some extreme cases, even the opposite sex till you are around 25. And after that, suddenly, you need to get married ASAP. Somehow dating is equal to marriage in India, and that is purely absurd.
Relationships are more about finding YOURSELF than finding ‘the one’. But this concept is completely buried in India.
When people get into a relationship, they tend to completely dissolve in their partners. We are made to think that we are no longer an individual, but a part of a pair. Your decisions are not yours alone, your life is somehow a representation of someone else’s ideas. And we are not at fault for this. From your childhood you are being told what to do and that mentality begins to reflect in our relationships. Instead of being aware of what emotional and physical needs are of both the partners of the relationship, we begin to compromise. We subdue our identity, our individuality, and merge into the other person.
How people completely shatter their Individuality once after entering a Relationship
The idea of “He/she is my everything, I cannot live without him/her.” This is very famous around here in India. Once in a relationship, it is all about ‘them’. He/she suddenly is your whole life, your family, your friend, and you just cannot see beyond them. You lose yourself in something that you were suppose to know more about yourself. But relationship is not a quest to win or declare your eternal love for the other person. It is not just about almost a parasitic kind of codependency. Apart from the person you are dating, you have your own identity.
One major problem also of relationships in India is a sense of property. And that is multiplied once you step into the physical stage of your relationship. If 2 people are involved in a physical relationship, then the next only possible option is marriage. There is no question of an another person. This is such a strong belief here in India that people go as far as suicide if such an incident happen. They cannot acknowledge or accept that the person they were once so intimate with is now sharing the same bond with somebody else. Of course it is not a usual case, but some people are so greatly wounded by this that they rather chose not to live than go on.
Now it does mean that physical intimacy should not be given such importance. Of course it is your body and it should be respected. But to give it such importance in such an unpredictable and temporary situation is questionable.
What we do is completely give in ourself into the other person, we cannot see beyond them, all of a sudden our likes, dislikes or preferences do not matter.
Youngsters and their entirely Rogue concept of Dating
Teenagers, who often have to hide their relationships from their parents due to the obvious negative opinion of people towards dating in India, they tend to feel more excluded and isolate themselves from family. Because they are so dissolved into their partners and treat them in a way which other people usually would treat God. In such cases, disapproval of their parents is a shocking revelation to them, which they absolutely cannot bear. So most of the teenagers distant themselves from their family becuase they think that this new person is all of their family, friend and life. This case is mostly found in most of the suicide stories. They cannot understand what a relationship demands, the endless labour to make it work. And they cannot ask for support because the Indian society still consists of a crowd of a tad bit closed mind people.
We kind of messed up the entire meaning of a relationship too. We are supposed to know ourself better at the end of a relationship, because in a relationship there is an outsider who’s now a part of your daily activity.
But instead of knowing how we work with a 2nd person in our life, we completely become unaware of our own actions and decision.
Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the international success Eat,Pray, Love, talks about her being the ‘permeable membrane’ in a relationship; she completely invests her whole life into her partner, and after a point becomes exhausted and empty that the only way to recharge her mind is to be in an another relationship.
But here in India, the similarity is only until the exhaustion, because the separation never comes. Once together, 2 people can never leave each other in India. And this is a whole different level of possessive nature.
The only way to get over this whole obsession is to evolve our minds. A relationship is not necessarily eternal. It is okay to let go if there is a lack of understand regarding emotional, physical or mental need. We cannot dissolve into the other person just because we find them attractive.
Relationships are not an intermediate stage of marriage, and we need to start accepting that.