In the last 2 months, I’ve practically lost count of the number of people who have asked me at Tantric Club events, or during their personal matchmaking consultations why I believe that there are so many single people in today’s day and age. Aside from the obvious reasons, which I have covered in various articles, it started to dawn upon me that may be the root of the problem lies much deeper than we ever take the time to consider?
Meet Sunil, he‘s 42, an educated single Asian professional. In the last 20 years he has had limited dating experiences due to his lack of confidence and know-how in the dating arena. From a young age he was led to believe that finding a wife would be his parent’s responsibility. After finishing University and getting a permanent job, his family decided that it was now time for him to get married. At this time the arranged marriage system was phasing out and moving towards family introductions. Unfortunately, despite meeting potential suitors through the system, he did not meet the woman of his dreams. After trying for circa 10 years, his family gave up and told him to try and find someone himself.
Leena, is an attractive and successful professional in her late 30s. Growing up, her parents were relatively strict. Dating was absolutely forbidden, going out socially with friends was more limited to daytime affairs rather than the evening. Whilst she interacted with guys at both college and university, she dated a little bit in secret but never really had a serious relationship. It was difficult to manage and she hated lying to her parents. After completing her education and gaining full-time employment, her parents started working their way through the family & community networks to find her a husband. As Leena started approaching her 30s, the ‘enquires’ started to dwindle. At the age of 32, Leena’s parents gave her their blessing to try and find a partner by herself.
So here they both are – Sunil and Leena, told to find their own partners. But how? From where? Having been cocooned for so many years, they’ve effectively been released into the world to reach a destination without a roadmap. Is it any wonder that they felt overwhelmed and lost? Which is why Sunil and Leena typically exemplify what I believe is the ‘Lost Generation’. This generation got left in limbo in the pursuit of finding their life partner, through no fault of their own. Predominately in their late 30s & 40s, the 'Lost Generation' got caught in the vacuum in between traditional family introductions and modern day dating services. Due to stigmas, Asian dating services only really gained momentum in the last 5 years, within the Asian community. Consequently, many people in their late 30s and 40s today, were left out in the cold. To add further fuel to the fire, this generation also did not have the luxury as young single Asian professionals today, to date openly, the freedom to stay out and party, go on holidays and so forth. In those days, if you were caught dating or out late, you risked gaining a bad reputation, being put under house arrest, or worse still being disowned by your own family. Therefore, many refrained.
When you think about this logically, in addition to being caught in a chasm between traditional introductions & modern day dating service, the ‘Lost Generation’ also had limited opportunities to meet new people and date openly. Consequently, there is a higher population of single Asians in their 30s and 40s today, compared to 20 years ago. Within this group, some lack dating experience and skills, which can often put them at a disadvantage in today’s competitive dating world. However, if it was not for this generation who (albeit probably unknowingly) made sacrifices in their dating and love life, perhaps the awakening of freedom and open dating in the Asian community, would not exist as we know it today...
Today, dating has started to become an acceptable 'act' within the Asian community. Girlfriends and boyfriends are introduced to parents regardless of whether there is a marriage in sight and people have the freedom to go out socially with no strict curfews. In fact, parents now actively encourage their children from a young age to get out there and start dating in order to find a life partner. For many parents, the change of heart comes as a result of witnessing the challenges to find a partner, encountered by single people in their 30s and 40s within their family and friends network. This is great for the younger generation in their 20s and early 30s but what about the older generation? Should they be bitter or angry? Blame their parents, or society? Or merely accept their fate and resolve in the fact that this was the sacrifice that they had make to ensure a better future for the next generation?
I will leave you with a quote from the author Gaylord Nelson:
"The ultimate test of man's conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard..."
Interesting article and I think you struck a chord with me and there were some home truths. I am one of those people of 'the lost generation' and do believe I was born before my time! The men I was introduced to in those early days were not right for me - I was always an independent thinker and being asked what my best dish to cook is was quite offensive even then! The guy's mother also played an important part as you ended up checking her out too! I was not permitted to see someone more than 2 or 3 times as if you did that it showed you were interested! Most of my friends decided very quickly - my sister, after a couple of hours! I am indecisive and that was never going to be enough time for me, so if there was no chemistry from day one I would say no. I may have missed some good opportunities, who knows - but what else could I do?
I did see someone for a few years - secretly of course and it didn't work out partly due to the pressure I was under. The whole experience put me of the idea and I decided that I would find out about myself and what it is I actually wanted. However, I did feel that your article was depressing - it's as if you have written me off! Yes it is quite competitive, but I am not competing against women in their 20's - am !? And as for the 'greatest sacrifice' - well how patronising! I do not believe that my life is unfulfilled! I have not based my happiness on the hope of having a man! I like to think there is a lot more to me than that! I am not this sad person you have painted - I have my own place, life and close family and friends. My life is enriched with so much that I would not have been able to do had I got married at a young age. I am a role model to younger girls and also to women who are stuck in loveless marriages, lost their confidence and sometimes even their identity! But you are right - we were caught up between two different ideas and ways of life and there were very opportunities to meet people in a 'normal' way. I won’t tell you of my experiences of 'gatherings' - I could write a book!
Thanks for a surprisingly insightful article. You're absolutely right - there is so much linked to our particular culture, the conflicts our generation faced, and the way we were forced to conduct our lives.
I would add that for many of us, especially women, there has been a desire to be independent and have freedom. This is not about being more choosy about partners (as Del suggests - although I don't disagree that there is more of that in this modern world), but actually being allowed to be individuals, make personal choices, have personal opinions and live our lives as we choose to. For our generation, entering a marriage in an Asian culture often has meant certain conventions and expectations, which many of us feel deeply uncomfortable with.
You have hit the nail on the head Alpa...well written article, which I can so relate to...both my younger sisters (in their 20's) are either married/engaged, and had it way easier with the dating game i.e. bringing boyfriends home did not raise an eyebrow...It seems "The Lost Generation" have just been left to kinda get on with it & "find the one"...if only it was that simple...