In conversation with psychiatrist Dr Kersi Chavda and psychologist Dr Seema Hingorani, Paula Dsouza explores why people choose to go solo.
They say that love conquers all, and most people believe that this means finding true love – finding that one person made specifically for you, your soulmate. It is essentially the driving plot of most fairy tales, the ones that make us believe that there is a certain magic that comes with falling in love that completes us. A thought that’s reinforced by corporations who sell us a fantasy. That’s a huge part of why the magic that comes from within is often overlooked. However, things are changing and not everyone is on the hunt for that someone special anymore.
Single and proud Single people are time and again regarded as sad, lonely souls who are lost, and the older they get, the more unhappy they are assumed to be. Research, however, reveals that more than half the people using dating apps are more inclined to stay single in recent years. Moreover, they aren’t forced to be single but are happily choosing to do so. Celebrities like Selena Gomez and Tracy Ellis Ross among others have many a time spoken out about why they love being single. British actress Emma Watson calls it being ‘Self Partnered’. During a press conference in 2010, Jennifer Aniston said, “Women are realising it more and more, knowing that they don’t have to settle with a man just to have that child.” Even international reality star Khloé Kardashian voiced her opinion on the subject, saying, “I think being single is really healthy for people… people who go from one relationship to another, I don’t know if they have a healing process or know what went wrong or how to better themselves.” Not too long ago, the popular dating app Bumble put out its predicted dating trends for the year, one of which was being ‘consciously single’. This meant that people are willingly choosing to stay single over putting themselves into relationships or situations that are unnecessary and quite possibly not beneficial to their mental health. Thus, we are now presented with the question – Why?
People are willingly choosing to stay single over putting themselves into relationships or situations that were unnecessary and quite possibly not beneficial to their mental health.
“I think being single is really healthy for people.”
- Khloe Kardashian
The choice to play solo Studies show that during the pandemic, after being constrained within four walls, and forced to be by themselves, a considerable number of people deemed it acceptable, if not preferential, to be unattached. On the other hand, some believe that the isolation, in fact, triggered a need to date and therefore many people started virtual relationships to fill that void. So if not the pandemic, why the shift? Dr Seema Hingorani explains that the reason is much deeper than just the pandemic. She understands it to be a generational issue, a situation wherein some people know exactly what they want. She says, “I think most people want to stay single because of past traumatic experiences, experiences that have not been processed or being in a relationship didn’t serve the purpose they intended. Some people have very negative, dysfunctional relationships, no co-regulation and multiple partners – many reasons why people come to us and say they want to be single.” She further highlights that people often go onto dating apps fully intending to get into a relationship but due to family and cultural differences, opt out of them and stay single. When asked about his opinion regarding the matter, Dr Kersi Chavda said, “There have been a lot of people who don’t want to get married. Whether you call it selfishness or self-realisation or whatever else, the bottom
line is that people don’t want to. It might be more in a certain economic class, it might be not so common in certain communities, but the bottom line is there is an increasing trend toward this.”
“There have been a lot of people who don’t want to get married. Whether you
call it selfishness or selfrealisation or whatever else, the bottom line is that people don’t want to.”
- Dr Kersi Chavda
Making a noise
Dr Chavda goes on to explain how people today are more vocal about what they want and don’t want; how they ideally wouldn’t want to settle for ‘second best’. He says, “ I think it is more of a generalised assertiveness that has happened.”
He credits education as the catalyst in shaping the basis of this trend. A trend wherein women have also begun saying that they are independent and that they will take what they want when they want it. Furthermore, Dr Chavda highlights that the gender gap is narrowing.“There was one time when only men would say that they didn’t want to settle down, but today we are seeing a whole bunch of women saying exactly the same thing. A lot of people will say that they are losing their femininity etc., but what they are actually saying is: ‘Count us as important. Let us also have our say’.”
Dr Hingorani offers a differing point of view. She says that the trauma and chaos that past relationships brought with them made people reconsider getting into any. “They don’t want to go through these negative, troubled, traumatic experiences because it takes a lot out of them. Work, performance and even physical health are affected because of trauma. There is PTSD from breakup and to avoid all that, people want to be mindful about whom they date.” She says that her clients wanted to understand what qualifies as a green or red flag, and what they should be looking out for. Moreover, people have begun to realise that the baggage they bring with them could impact the relationship, and they want to work on that before getting into one.
Singledom is here to stay
Finally, in discussing the longevity of this trend, Dr Chavda says, “I don’t think it’ll die down.” He talks about how India possibly wouldn’t see this change before another 15- 20 years, however, he envisages that people eventually would move in that direction. “People are living with much more impunity than in the past and with increasing independence, increasing wealth, and an attitude which is: ‘I am also important in the scheme of things and I’m not just going to do things because my seniors or elders expect me to do so’. I think if this attitude continues, then we are going to see a lot of this happening. So, the more acceptable it is, the less people raise their eyebrows and the more frequent I believe it is going to be.”
Change is imminent. Even though trends come and go, their impact lingers and the longer it stews, the more certain change becomes. Therefore, it truly is an exciting time to witness an abundance of independence and self-realisation being newly imbued in people among whom it wasn’t even an option for before.
“They don’t want to go through these negative, troubled, traumatic experiences because it takes a lot out of them.”
- Dr Seema Hingorani
“There was one time when only men would say that they didn’t want to settle down, but today we are seeing a whole bunch of women saying exactly the same thing.”
- Dr Kersi Chavda
“There is PTSD from breakup and to avoid all that, people want to be mindful about whom they date.”
- Dr Seema Hingorani