A few days ago I wrote a piece on love, rejection and men’s way of handling it, titled ‘Dear Men If a Woman Rejects You, You Don’t Become Half Boyfriend’.
It’s only been a few days and many guys reached out to me personally after reading it. I am a sort of unlicensed therapist who has been doing this relationship advice and therapy thing for my readers for the last eight years now.
My blogs and social media channels have my details hence these guys reached out with genuine questions.
For the last eight years, as I said, I have been doing research, writing books, taking formal education and hence counselling in this area of relationships which goes into the niche of conflict, abuse, assault, harassment, human rights, mental health, and self-care. For instance, on my YouTube channel, I talk about all these issues including marriage. Here is one such video about getting married.
I consistently talk to young people who are awfully confused about relationships and hence struggle in life. That’s simply because there is no one, no parent, teacher or official trusted source of information who could impart proper relationship wisdom to us.
The most we learn about relationships is from crappy Bollywood movies and let’s be honest, that’s the worst way to learn about relationships. From the ’90s films, we learn that to impress a guy friend, you just have to grow out your hair and ditch the jeans for a saree (Kuch Kuch Hota Hai) and he will be melting over you like butter on toast. Or that if you stalk a girl long enough and throw her bra on her face, eventually she will give in to your advances (Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge).
One would think that in 2018, things might be different but sadly that’s a false premise. Our youth is more confused than ever and is even more divided between the so-called ‘sanskari way of byah’ and the Bollywood infused sleep and forget by morning coffee routine.
Even the guys who wrote to me had plenty of misconceptions, so here are five major LIES that you were told about love and relationships that I, as a relationship counsellor, want you to stop believing in.
Oh man! They couldn’t keep this myth alive in the same movie it originated from. Shah Rukh first fell in love with the ‘hot and sexy’ Rani Mukerji and completely sidelined the ‘tomboyish’ Kajol. But one saree, one hair makeover and a few years later, you’ll see Shah Rukh falling for Kajol. The truth is, in real life, you will fall in love a number of times. Your first love is different because you are naive and inexperienced. The more you date, the more instincts you will develop and learn about not just people but yourself; what you want and what you don’t want in your partner.
The idea of the ‘one love’, the childhood high school sweetheart until eternity is sweet but very rare. You kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince charming in real life. And that’s good because if you didn’t, you’d have to settle for a frog!
The sweet 16 love affair is interesting. More interesting is literally every other love story until the age of 90 and furthermore interesting are breakups and survival stories. Countless songs have been written about this ‘pehla pyaar’ shit and as a young person, you worry so much about your first love. The truth is that your first encounter is most likely just physical attraction. Sorry homies, but you are kids at 16 and even 18 doesn’t make you mature enough to understand the concept of ‘love’. At that fuzzy age of bursting hormones and pheromones, your attraction is mainly just physical. You like the way they look and walk and talk. You want to hold hands or hold more than hands of that person and experience physical intimacy.
I’m not the moral police here to pull your ear and tell your mommy on you; I’m not your BJP aunty. I’m here to tell you though, that love is a lot more complicated and requires a lot more of you, as you will learn as you grow. So don’t take this too serious and put your studies and career on the side track for this ‘pehla pyaar’. Your ambition should be your first love and first priority at that stage.
I can’t even begin to tell you how toxic this line of thought is. The first line of the song is ‘kab tak roothegi cheekhegi chillaegi’ which roughly translates to ‘how long is she going to get upset, yell and scream?’. This is the toxic thinking that tells young boys to chase girls even after the girls have clearly rejected them. They think that if they keep chasing her long enough or grapple endlessly, the girl will ultimately give in and get all chummy about ‘how much the guy loves me’. This has been shown in movies and TV serials even today. In real life though, when guys chase girls and don’t get accepted, they get frustrated and resolve to dangerous means.
Watch Kajol’s anger all through this song. I can’t believe we used to enjoy and dance to this song, now I find it so cringe-worthy I just can’t watch.
Acid attacks and revenge porn are the ways in which such rejected men take out their frustration. Imagine if we only taught young boys to accept rejection and be cool with it; do not think that a girl rejecting them is a jolt to their manhood. There is not much to say here except the awful line of thought that needs to end. Guys, please don’t chase girls who are not interested in you; this won’t end pretty for anyone.
This crap began from “Dil Toh Pagal Hai” in full force. This idea that your ideal lover, your match has been made in heaven and is somewhere out there and you just have to find this person. I’m guilty of spending plenty of nights in those times, talking to the moon on my terrace, dreaming of meeting the ideal person one day and the happily ever after that would follow.
Watch this scene where Madhuri is talking about that heaven sent lover:
Here’s the reality check: that ideal, heaven-sent partner DOES NOT EXIST!
There, I just saved you like 50 heartbreaking encounters. The truth I have discovered since those moon talking, Madhuri’s-philosophy-obsessed days is that your partner, whoever they will be, is a human. And the best of humans have flaws.
Especially for Indian girls, it is important to remember that you live in a country where more than 52% men believe it is justified to beat your wife. Shockingly, women believing the same is way higher.
So, this obsession with ‘finding that perfect guy’ has a twofold problem. First is that it tells you that you are only half of someone, that you cannot be happy with yourself, that you need to find that person in order to be complete. And secondly, that if that match was made in heaven, it would be sacred and divine and all mushy like Shah Rukh and Madhuri.
In real life, however, you still have to be realistic. You have got to give the other person a chance to be real and accept them as they are. Instead, we have this dreamy, perfect image of that person in our mind and in our initial meetings, of course, they remain all sweet but later when they get back to their normal self, we think we have been cheated. We feel that the person has changed somehow and why can’t that honeymoon phase, romantic stage last forever.
That is a false star to shoot for. Instead of perfection, aim for ‘known flaws‘, by that I mean, be OK with their usual flaws and get to know ‘how far they can go’. Negotiate your own terms as to how much you can compromise and on what things. Every individual is different and so is every relationship. There is no ideal, all perfect, forever Shah Rukh type relationship, not in reality.
Bullshit. Romantic love is a tiny part of life. There is a lot more to life than romance and heartbreaks. And this is coming from a hopeless romantic and a perpetual shayar. Sorry to burst your romance bubble again but honestly speaking, our obsession with love makes life very narrow and unhealthy. 99% of Bollywood movies made in the 90s and early 2000s were about love. Once in a while, there would come a movie like “Lagaan” or “Swades” where love was on the sidelines but not the main plot of the story.
The truth is that life has a lot more to it. Especially in your teens and twenties, you have the most important things to do – building a foundation for the rest of your life. Your main focus in this age must be to travel as much as possible, see the world, not just that wealthy, privileged “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara” style of travel but genuine budget-friendly travel. Meet people from the opposite side of the globe and learn about their language, culture, a way of life. And also go into deep rural India, you’ll be shocked to learn how much you didn’t know about your own nation.
Other than travel, you must learn about social issues and try to volunteer for the causes that you feel passionately about.
The idea of this love and romance and finding that bliss is all great but it’s not the only thing to chase in life. And even if you don’t have that supposedly ‘other half’ in your life, you are still going to be fine, happy in fact. Yes, you can find a life partner any time you want but instead of chasing one person after another and losing your thumb because of over-swiping on Tinder, maybe give this dating thing a rest. Question yourself – what else is your life about?
People are literally scared of being on their own, and settle for unhealthy and often abusive relationships. This dependency, the idea of living life to the fullest only when married is super unhealthy and a big lie.
Single people have complete lives too and there is absolutely no shame in admitting that you enjoy time with yourself. In fact, if you ever wish to have a happy relationship, learn to be self-dependent for happiness. Or else you will forever suffer.
Hope I didn’t kill cupid completely for you and my advice made some sense to you. In case you want to reach out to ask your own relationship questions, you are welcome to do that as well.