As single women and men, this is probably the most frequently asked question in any family gathering. And most of us don’t have an answer to this, so when people ask us repeatedly, it gets boring and sometimes, annoying. How do we escape from this question? If I have to use one-word answer, it would be ‘education’. Let me explain.
Generation Gaps & Apps
We are all typically 2 generations apart from our parents, their siblings and all the trouble mongers in gatherings. Amongst all these generation gaps, the last 20 years has been the most radical when it comes to change. Change in the way we communicate, interact or for that matter, anything that we do. Technology has brought so much communication that with people that we are close to, we are connected over multiple platforms. What we say over text or on social media gets construed differently in different contexts.
Travel and socializing has become easier. Women have become empowered; they’re also investing in houses, buying fancy cars and traveling solo, same as their male counterparts. Women and men have their own set of friends and colleagues. In short, they are living their own separate parallel lives.
A relationship is a match between these two separate lives; and families too, when it has to turn into a marriage. With technology, social media and age, stitching these lives becomes more and more stressful. The art of dating someone has now turned into a science of matching preferences, lifestyle choices and more.
Choices, Choices, Choices.
Flashback, circa 40 years ago. The generation our parents lived in, choices were limited or none. They had very little to choose from whether it was education or business. Choices of food, shopping, movies, communication – everything was minimal. So, our parents studied in whatever school or college was close to home, always ate homemade food, got married to someone their parents chose the moment they were employed. They never had the luxury of staying in touch through the day with their spouses. Came home to Chitrahaar and DD News. Their obvious choice of entertainment was kids. They hardly ever socialized. Penetration of culture was slow both ways – they did not travel much and technology to infiltrate it into our society did not exist. There was no concept of dating and no relationship existed other than marriage. Regardless of how bad the relationship was, separation was almost never a choice. Or should I say, they had no lives outside their relationship. Friends came from work or school or college. There was no concept of going out and meeting people. All their life savings went into buying a plot and building a house; a color television and a Maruti 800 for people who wanted luxury.
What’s Your Passcode?
Fast forward to today. The older generation thinks it is simply the same today. They don’t understand why we all are not married and why they haven’t had grandkids to play with. They think couples just need to make things work. But whether you’re single, in a relationship or even married, today choices are plenty. All you have to do is install an app, in all probability it’s even free. Love isn’t a strong enough word today. Practicality is. Separation is so common, it is no longer seen as a taboo. So, while we stitch those individual lives together, it is important that we make the right choice because separation is an accepted practice today – as it rightly should be. The passcode to someone’s phone can pretty much tell you where they’ve been, who they’ve been talking to, what relationship they have with whom. The concept of having a life before or outside a marriage is normal today and that choice can be made in a few minutes.
Single Vs. The Wrong Relationship
The older generation has to be educated on how choices and empowerment has changed the way relationships are formed and ended. I understand we cannot sit down with everyone in our family and make them understand, but if we could at least manage to have a buy-in from our parents, life would be far more peaceful. There is a chance that the pressure of settling down can lead us to make the wrong moves in life. Not being in a relationship to me is any day better than being in a wrong relationship. While this societal pressure hovers around us, it is only unfortunate that we are in a mad world that seems to be moving at a pace we are all trying to catch up with – whether it is work, fitness, travel or anything for that matter. There is no time to pause and think or do something about this confusion.
Education Is The Bridge
I am not drawing inferences or calling one good and the other bad. In fact, some of the practices that our previous generations did were far better than what we are doing today. Lack of choices made re-using material, homemade food a necessity. Kids were asked to play outside and not stare at a screen. But putting the two generations in the same frame of time is creating confusion. A confusion that will need alignment so we know how relationships will start and end in the future. Until then, educating them may be the only way to bridge the gap.
Our current generation also has to delicately handle this fabric of relationship. Although we do have the luxury of living our own life now, we must continue to adhere to some of the values and practices from our previous generations. Understanding where they come from may help us in tackling the issues at home in a better and mature way.
And what about you? How do you handle the generational gap with your parents, grand parents, aunts and uncles, especially when it comes to ‘settling down’ ? I would love to hear from you! Share your thoughts with me in the comments below.