Dating, and Putting Yourself First

When the demand to have a nuclear life is pressing down on you (to date, get married, have a kid (or two), run a family), we often forget what’s most important: our mental health, and our happiness.

Here’s something the process of adulting brings to you: an unexplainable interest from others into your dating life. Women in their 20s and 30s experience an unavoidable societal pressure to be dating, at the very least. There are feelings of inadequacy, loneliness, unhappiness and melancholy that may start to swamp you if you let yourself be swayed by the tides of such expectations. So, while acknowledging that dating can be super fun and exciting, here’s a shoutout to those who are riding solo and feeling burdened from the expectations of others.

Studies have shown that millennials — an age group which is well into adulthood, with the youngest one ever being 21 — are 177% more likely to experience the pressure of getting married as compared to previous generations. The causes range from heightened parental expectations, increased governmental pressure, private corporations advertising nuclear families to keep products popular, and of course, wanting a family of their own.

And while there is nothing wrong in wanting a family or being romantic, it’s disheartening for women to put on a ticking clock and be told that there is a time limit to their “prime marriageable age”. In fact, in China (and other Asian countries, I’m sure), unmarried women over the age of 27 are known as “leftover women”, even if they may be dating or have an immensely successful career. It’s admittedly unfair that an accomplished woman’s standings mean nothing if there isn’t a stamp of Family chopped on her.

So for those who are struggling to balance their own contentment with the contentment of others, remember this:

1. Live Your Life at Your Own Paces

26-year-old Rahma Salim (not her real name) often felt stressed and unhappy; people around her thought that she would not life a settled life until she got married, and these thoughts eventually projected onto her and her confidence. At this stage, dating and marriage becomes the goal of one’s life, rather than meeting the right person and enjoying your time with them. Even if it takes twenty years, why let it bother you? Premature relationships and marriages often end up falling apart quicker too, and that, too, is another source of stress and unhappiness.

2. Think of What You Think, Before Thinking of What Others Think

Instead of letting others psyche you into thinking you want something you wouldn’t really be happy with (at that specific period of time), actively remind yourself that you are the one who knows what you want best. You might not be a hundred percent sure, but your guess is probably going to be better than anyone else’s.

As I grow older and closer to 30 (which isn’t that near but neither is it that far), I see more of the ridiculous standards that are placed on women as ar indicator of their value or worth. And on a personal level, I would like to encourage you and support you in creating a life for yourself that holds up to your personal belief system and takes your mental health in mind. Take a deep breath, and you do you.

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