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In an imperfect world, why are so many people searching for the perfect partner?

Like many, you’re single and waiting for the right person to come along before you happily join the world of marriagedom. Along comes someone who ticks many of your boxes but at the first sign of a heated debated (misconstrued as an argument), a difference of opinion, or something (usually insignificant in the grand scheme of things) you don’t like, in your eyes it’s far from perfect so it’s just not going to work.
Whilst this is your prerogative, have you ever considered that relationships are like two rocks magnetically drawn together to become one?

Each rock is unique, it’s very rare that they would simply fit together perfectly from the moment they attract. It’s only if you give them ample opportunity to endure different climatic conditions – sun, rain & thunder – resulting in both heat & friction, they will become one. Once bonded, they either become stronger together to weather all conditions, or simply fall apart. Which it will be, I guess we never know unless we actually give it a real chance to run its natural course.

So doesn’t this beg the question of whether all these single people waiting for perfection have been deluding themselves? Is it time to wake up and smell the roses? Perfection doesn’t exist! Whilst you may have been waiting in earnest, the years just may have been passing you by. Every relationship requires compromise and work. Just so I’m not shot down let me clarify what I mean. I’m not talking about compromising your beliefs, values or anything that fundamentally makes you feel like you’re not being true to yourself. I’m talking about healthy compromise, which requires respect, understanding and the will to make a concerted effort.

Yes, when you first start out in a relationship, it should be all rosy but even if you do have a couple of disagreements it’s normal. After all, you’re trying to learn about each other and work out whether you’re compatible, it’s about being honest and open, not critical and controlling. Likewise, a discussion resulting in a difference of opinion does not equate to an argument unless you’re screaming and shouting of course. Ego’s aside, let’s be honest here, as the years pass it’s the conversation and mental challenge that keeps a relationship going, not the ‘perfect person’ who is going to hang on to your every word and agree with you every time – yawn how boring!
So where did this obsession of having a perfect partner come from? Are we really a generation of self-centred and conceited individuals, who believe that we’re the bees knees and set a bar of unrealistic expectations? Or should we be pointing the finger at our parents, who have raised us with an expectation to always strive for the best, be it top marks at school, a place at the ‘right’ university, a professional career and the list could go on, but ultimately resulting in our inability to consider anything less than perfect in our personal lives.

Arguably, society and our peers could also be held accountable. When you’re professionally successful, you want to be perceived successful in all aspects of your life and with that comes an unspoken expectation that your partner should fit a certain bill. Conforming to this may in reality find you the perfect partner in the eyes of others, but remember, you’re the person that has to actually spend the rest of your life with them.

Interestingly enough, would you be as demanding with these high expectations if you were stuck on a desert island and had to select a partner for companionship? Removed from all the influences & expectations of your family, friends and society, what would your criteria list look like now? How ‘imperfect’ would you rate the ability to have a heated debate with different opinions, or the fact that you did not like the way they dress?

But despite all of the above, are we not the educated & aspirational generation who should have the intellectual capacity to identify that perfection in any aspect of life, or the wider world, simply does not exist? How many good relationship opportunities have you overlooked, in search of perfection? Answers below if you dare...

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You asked for some answers on a postcard so here is mine: I as you know have been "seriously" looking for about 7 years and the last 5 of which I have seen many many women and been to many many agencies, and singles/dating nights. I have actually liked only a few of the plus 500/1000 Women I have seen and if I was to be honest I have only really pursued about 5 of them. Out of the 5 women I actively pursued half of these were only really physical attraction on my part and a shallow liking of what those women represented to me (their interests and their likes seemed interesting) If I look back at the piles of women I have either rejected or who rejected me, 2 women do particularly stand out as women who if I had compromised I would have happily ended up with and whom I would have been very happy with. These two lovely girls in particular did (at different stages of my life) say they wanted to pursue things further and I was the one who rejected them, mainly purely based on looks or an over analysis of some small comment one of them made on a date. When I think back (and especially as I get older and older) I regret this lack of compromise on my part as both of these girls I later found out were snapped up right after I had rejected them and rightfully so as they were "good catches". I am learning slowly but surely that there is great value in compromising when looking at a prospective partner and that the most important things are not their looks (which are very important as this is the packaging), Job or status; its how well you can get on and enjoy each others company and how good you can make each other feel valued and loved- a little thing otherwise known as companionship. In a 'plastic' and 'perfect' world we are all looking the perfect partner. The point is it is not a perfect world and that is what gives this life character and meaning, and thus the same actually does apply to life partners, many times it is the quirky imperfect things we actually find adorable in our life partners...
Hey Alpa,

I'd have to say that article is the most Amazing article I've read on relationships. I think it completely hits the spot with our generation of Asian - particularly the part about the desert island. I reckon people should read that article before they go out on a first date... I'm going to send to my friend now (she's meeting someone for a date tonight!)...

I like the way you think in the challenging world we live in today, you bring many home truths that are often overlooked in the liberal indian society. I consider myself to be a modern independent guy, living alone for the most part of the last 12 years. Relatively successful depending upon whose yard stick you are measuring with. After much dating, both long and short term the greatest challenge I have experienced (I prefer not to tarnish everyone with the same brush) in modern Indian times is that people need to be honest re their own and parents expectations, easier said than done. Having met a few female partner's parents, this has led to the breakdown of relationships, due to the same underlying reason. Indian people seek their parental approval on their chosen partner over and above their judgement. Understandably, this would be the case where people involved are considered to be too young to make a decision that is going to affect the rest of their lives but when you're in your late 20's and 30's the ball park should have changed somewhat. As you point out, are we not an educated & aspirational generation. Yet it appears that when we seek our life partner we desire someone whom not only fits into our own worlds but our parents too. Most may question that there is nothing wrong with this, as it is our culture to respect our parents. By making our own choices we are not disrespecting our parents. On the flip-side would we want a partner like our parents? Surely not, yet their approval scores highly on the most people's list. Why does all this matter? All too often, I have observed Indian female friends marrying non-Indians having dated Indian guys in prior relationships. Unfortunately the Indian guys have had to meet the parents prior to the making the decision to marry adding complexity into a relationship that is already time starved. However, a non-Indian does not need to go through this experience as Indian men/women are unlikely to introduce their family until there is a formal commitment. I appreciate that this may not apply in liberal families by western measures. Having met a lovely young lady and deciding to take the plunge, I too have faced similar challenges to those described above. We had a blissful relationship prior to parental involvement, unfortunately her parent's ideas of a suitable partner were somewhat different to hers and almost ended our relationship. The usual measures driven by finance, job position, security and family standing were tested. Unfortunately difficult to measure where evidence is uncertain. I see this as another example of someone not having managed their parents expectations prior to our meeting. For someone so strong and apparently independent, it was surprising how weak one is with their parents in the same room but she is not alone, I know many like her. It is just sad when you see that one is willing to compromise their own happiness to please their parent's wishes of meeting someone of their liking irrespective of the challenges the modern middle aged Indian faces in meeting someone they are attracted to in the first place. Fortunately, I did not let this happen and requested that her family go away and think about it, would they be willing to let their daughter be unhappy if they do not hear the answer to their questions in relation to finance and security. Anyways we are still climbing the path steadily. Having attended a tantric club event, I think they are a great avenue to meet potential partners, and I guess more often form friendships. In the modern age the challenge is two-fold, firstly meeting the right person, secondly managing our parental expectations...


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