Help! I think I want to stay single!

Q 1. I want to stay single but my family is pressurising me to ‘settle down’. I sometimes feel that I am being emotionally blackmailed!

How do I handle this?

Answer: It is indeed frustrating when you feel cornered and pressurized by your family. As a starting point perhaps you can have a dialogue with them as to what exactly their fears are so than you can assuage them to the best of your ability. Then let them know respectfully that your needs are important too. Try not to allow emotion and anger to creep into your discussion for that will derail everything! There are a lot of people opting to remain single nowadays and as long as you are sure about why you choose to remain single it is fine. Make sure you know all the advantages and disadvantages of being single versus marriage. Perhaps you can make a note of it to process your own thoughts clearly. If you have clarity about your decision then it will be easier to be firm and assertive with your family. Maybe if your family knows that you have thought through your decision they might feel that you are better equipped to handle your life as you deem fit.

Q2. At times, I do not know what I really want- what may be the right choice to make in my life.. How do I resolve my ambivalence?

Answer: It is normal to be confused about the choice between remaining single or opting for marriage.At times you may be assailed by fears about how you will combat loneliness and may long for a companion. At other times you may see your friends struggling to save their marriage. However examining the pros and cons to both may help you make a choice.

If you opt to remain single you have more freedomand personal time, independence to make career choices and more time to yourself because of less responsibility. But on the flip side singles may struggle with loneliness, lack of companionship and social support, pressures of being the sole breadwinner and dealing with a judgemental society about your choice. Some of the potential advantages of being married would be thechance to receive and give love and support in an intimate relationship, sharing the financial burden, children, safer sex life and handling life-challenges together. On the other hand the potential challenges of married life may include some constraints on personal space and freedom, constant juggling between multiple roles (e.g. career & responsibilities at home) andof course the challenges about dealing with new relationships and the strains these may entail.

There is no right or wrong choice really. It is a very personal and subjective choice. Think carefully about which choice will match your personality and your vision in life. Though we should try our best to minimize uncertainty when making major decisions by thinking through the options that we are considering and use all our resources to make choices that might suit us the best, you would agree that uncertainties cannot be totally avoided as these are part of our life! Focusing on doing our best while choosing our path and following our path, being open to savouring the good times and gifts of life as well as preparing ourselves to deal with the potential challenges might be a helpful approach.

Q3. Whatever I decide, I am not sure if I will be able to handle the consequences of the decision (staying single/getting married)? What can help me feel better prepared, either way?

Answer: Whether you choose staying single or opt for marriage, dealing with the consequences of your decisions has more to do with the person you are rather than the choices you make. We take the essential parts of our personality and self into any relationship. So it would be a good idea to first be comfortable in your own skin and be self-aware. Explore the different aspects of your personality – your response to stress and conflict, how you choose to celebrate life, your values and principles, your vision of how you would like your life to unfold, how resilient you are, your willingness to give the benefit of doubt to others, not taking things personally, compassion & empathy for self and others. Basically a healthy sense of self is all you need to handle anything that life throws at you. Have an open mind and learn to go with the flow. Look at problems, pain and suffering as an opportunity to evolve and not as impediments to growth.

Expert: Mrs. Sukanya Srinivas Ananth,

Psychotherapy Practitioner at Malleshwaram, Bangalore, stress management coach and a writer