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I Don't Have Time To Date And Other Such Illusions

In the most recent Single in the City survey, 33% of Indian singles said the reason they are single is because they don’t have time to date.

That doesn’t come as a surprise, right? Dating in urban India can get really tough. Especially if you have a job, want to get ahead in your career, or like most people are getting hounded by your family to ‘settle down’. 

As a result, a common grievance that all single people share is – ‘I don’t have the time to date!’

Admittedly, I used to say the same thing until about a year ago. Which was about the time that I lost a childhood friend to cancer. At his funeral, I remember listening to the words coming out of the priest’s mouth, but not really assimilating them. I was too busy thinking about how I too probably had lesser time on this planet than I assumed. Or more accurately, lesser time than I portrayed from the way I lived my life.

Since then, I have been on a sprint. Not just on the dating front, but on every front. 

To quote a man I almost certainly would have gotten along with had I been born a couple of millennia earlier:

Stop drifting…sprint to the finish. Write off your hopes, and if your well-being matters to you, be your own savior while you can.

– Marcus Aurelius

So, while everyone has their own reasons for embarking on journeys of different kinds, can it get any more heroic than wanting to be your own saviour?

What are you waiting for?

Is It Really Work That’s Keeping You Busy?

I too was busy working on my career. Or that’s the story I told myself anyway. It was convenient to tell the world I was working hard. I was, make no mistake about that. Until it got to the point where success in one part of my life started to detract me from other aspects of life. 

Life is an act of balancing many activities which compete simultaneously for your time and attention. 

Give one activity too much time and attention, and you inevitably find yourself out of balance. 

Being depressed. 

Being overweight. 

Being sick. 

Being lonely. 

These are all results of thousands of conscious and unconscious decisions you have made previously. Sure, medical science has come up with ways to counteract some of these conditions, but treating the symptom and not the cause only delays the inevitable. 

Being single.

I wanted to add that to the list above, but it sounded a little corny. The truth is this is also a choice you have made. 

It is certainly a choice I had made in the past. No judgement implied – it is what it is.

When I wanted to be single, I just didn’t want to have the emotional entanglements which are a by product of any relationship. So I made no moves. I was happy. If at all, I made moves only when I knew with certainty that it would last no longer than a test match, usually one which ends on day 3.

Now, I want to change that. For a variety of reasons.

Not making the time to date is also a choice. At the end of the day, you only do the things that are high on your list of priorities.

I totally f***king get it, man.

I know how ridiculously busy work can get sometimes.

I know how easy it is to get lost in building a company, or a project, or other venture close to your heart.

It isn’t only the time that goes into building a career. That is obvious. But when you invest a significant chunk of your emotional energy into it, as most of us do, you just don’t feel like making the effort to take a chance on someone.

Taking a chance on someone is level 0. That’s the easy bit!

The Secret About Time

The uncomfortable truth about life in general, and time in particular, is this:

Time is made. It is never found. 

Yes yes, I know. The same trash you hear in motivational talks and self help books makes an untimely and unwelcome appearance on an anonymous single man’s blog. 

Time is made. It is sculpted, to be precise. Sculpted out of the same 24 hours that your neighbour, your boss and your hero have. 

Depending on how skilled you are, the time that you sculpt out of the time that you have eventually ends up on your epitaph when you’re dead. 

What you make time for is what you look back on as a life well lived. 

Priorities are just a fancy word for how you allocate time to the various aspects of life that demand your time, your attention and your energy. 

When you spend more time on one, you get to spend less on another. 

If the spending of time is dictated by forces outside your control, it inevitably leads to frustration and a feeling of lack of control. 

The truth of the matter is that you can make time for taking chances, if you really want to. You might not have the time to meet 2 or 3 people a week. But you definitely can make time to meet 1 person a week. Or 1 person every 2 weeks.

Making time is the easy bit. But opening yourself up to commit a significant chunk of your emotional energy into finding someone you want to spend a lot of your time with, that is a call only you can make.

For starters, being single is totally freaking cool. You should never, ever let yourself feel down or bad or ashamed or any other negative emotion just because you’re single. Even when that Uncle or Aunt of yours carries on unrelentingly about why you don’t have a boyfriend / girlfriend. Or when they parrot the same lines about marriage again and again. Over time, you can learn to stick a finger at all people who make you feel bad about your state in life. Sometimes, you do it subtly, and other times the situation just calls for a straight out ‘Ima stick it in your face now’.

So, with that epic spiel out of the way, does that help you re-evaluate the statement below:

I don’t have time for relationships. 

It isn’t that you don’t have time. The more likely reason is that you don’t have the emotional energy to make time for something which clearly calls for a lot of your emotional and mental energy. 

Which is absolutely, perfectly fine. It really is.

What is not fine is that you want a relationship, but lament the fact that there are ‘no good men left’, or that ‘all the good girls are taken’, or worse, that you have no time to pursue a relationship. Deep down, you know that this is the pitch you use to massage your ego when you don’t want to make an effort.

Deep down, what you seem to like is the idea of a relationship, not a relationship itself. 

What you really need is radical honesty with yourself.

May be, just may be, you don’t want a relationship.

May be you do want one, but you don’t need one. 

Perhaps you are perfectly happy the way you are.

And you know what? That is just as great as being in a relationship. Just, in a different way. 

But you can’t want to be in a relationship, and continue to complain of a lack of time.

I had started to run out of topics for this blog, so I sent an SOS to Dipti, Gurpriya and Sidman.

This was one of the topics D suggested.

At first I thought, oh, let me write about how I manage to make time to date. How I have changed how I manage my time etc. May be I can give people some ideas…

And then when I sat down to write, it hit me. 

No matter how busy we are, it isn’t the time that we need. It is committing to spending a significant chunk of our mental and emotional reserves to building something of substance with another person.

And whether you think you can do that right now, or you can’t, just know that the clock is ticking. If you’re entirely comfortable with your lot in life, great. If not, it might be time to re-evaluate how you want to live your life.

Just remember, there is no correct answer.

20 years down the line, as Mr Twain said, don’t regret the things you didn’t do. And apparently, one of the biggest regrets of the dying is that they spent too much time at work, and not enough time on people…

Cheers to a great sprint to the finish…


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