The fear that sustains my relationships is brewed within my social circles. Most people term my fear as the ‘wrong’ reason for staying in a relationship with someone – especially at my age (18, if you’re wondering). But I seem to think differently, I believe there really is no other reason one would stay, otherwise.
I don’t believe in the everlasting movie kind of love, nor do I believe that your heart will skip a beat at the sight of the same person for 40 years. I don’t believe that monotony is tireless. However, I do believe in companionship.
I genuinely think all romantic relationships stem from the simple fact that all of us are aware of the societal expectation that we need to find someone to spend our lives with. Eventually, all your friends – that you rely upon so compulsively – will each find someone and won’t be there for you the way they were before. And slowly but surely, you’ll find yourself intertwined in a web of close friends that somehow still leave you feeling entirely alone.
That’s another major trouble with the whole relationship phenomenon. You don’t necessarily want any of it – the routine, the daily responsibilities, the tolerance you have to develop when living with someone else; the pact you make to never leave each other, the pressure of not being attracted to each other or the harrowing fear that you’ll start liking someone else. And yet, at some point, we all tumble down.
We hide our anxieties under excuses like being anti-social or being workaholics, telling ourselves and the world that we’re so consumed and fulfilled by our work that we don’t desire anything else. But we forget, or ignore, that people lead varied three-dimensional lives and are fulfilled by a combination of relationships, work and other interests, among other more personal factors. It’s impossible to rely on one thing to fulfil us.
It is difficult to live without those one or two relationships that revolve around us (all humans are closeted narcissists in the end). The fear of being alone stems from the fact that our society is organised to enable living in pairs – the idea that everyone will eventually find someone. Even if someone is perfectly okay with the idea of living a solitary life, they find themselves in a net of loneliness, with finding a ‘life partner’ presented as the only option.
It would be much easier to not be married if people around us weren’t. That way it would be easier to have friendships and other platonic relationships in our lives and not feel this looming fear quite as much. This doesn’t even begin to address the complexities of readily available, but not necessarily good, sex. But I reckon that’s another problem easily solvable by a larger amount of people willing and wanting to stay single.
I am not ignoring the positives of a happy home life and the part that long-term committed relationships can play in raising ‘normal’, responsible adults. I’m simply acknowledging an alternate reality that many of us fantasise about, but feel deprived of.
I just hope that at the edge of 40, I find myself with enough to sustain me socially and emotionally outside of a forced relationship, or that I have a support group of other 40-year-old single women to enjoy life with.
Ojaswi Sharma is an 18-year-old writer from Chandigarh.