‘What have you been doing with your life?’

‘How will you find the one?’

These are just two examples of the kind of statements I hear from people when they come to know that I am a 30-something woman who has never dated. The judgement began in my 20s, because apparently, if I have never dated, I have not lived. If you were to ask me why I’ve never dated in my life, the easy answer is that I didn’t feel like it, but the real answer is a lot more complicated.

To date or not to date

Now, let me be honest, it’s not that in the 30-odd years I have been alive, I never wanted to date. Of course, I did. There were numerous instances over the past 30 years when my friends used to share their wild dating stories with me, and occasionally, a thought would creep in – ‘Why can’t I find someone?’

Thankfully, to make my life easier, the thought would vanish just as quickly as it came.

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Having grown up on fairytales, romance novels, and rom-coms, a younger me daydreamed of getting stuck in the rain with my love interest, as I would spin around in the rain with my hands open, wearing a white anarkali suit, while the guy would look at me and fall completely, irrevocably in love with me. The dream was short-lived because I soon realised I wasn’t the prettiest girl on the block.

Childhood traumas that become lifelong companions

You see, I was born a chubby kid, and as I grew older, the chubbiness didn’t go away. I was also a crybaby who would complain to the teacher anytime I was made fun of. It’s safe to say, the schoolgirl me had no friends. And with the strict warning from my parents about not talking to boys, I kept my distance. No biggie. Until I grew older and realised, nobody “likes me” likes me.

I had way too many people telling me I was too fat, so I knew I wasn’t a good-looking girl. And only good-looking girls had boyfriends, not girls like me.

Getting out of the comfort zone

After spending 13 years living in a bubble, it wasn’t easy to make guy friends in college either. I was determined to be a new version of myself, but I was also a teacher’s pet. Again, not a great look on anyone if you were to ask my peers. Alas, I did not have a glow-up in college either, and if you are a not-so-pretty girl who won’t even put any effort into making friends, that’s automatically zero boys.

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When I joined the workforce, I still wanted a wild office romance, but that wasn’t in the cards either. By now, I had realised that I had painfully low self-esteem and body image issues. And it wasn’t going away anytime soon. But I made an effort.

At 23, I downloaded my first-ever dating app. And boy, was it a boost to my ego! I had loads of men swiping right on me and wanting to talk to me. And sure enough, I had a few conversations. Till one guy scared me off with his fantasy of screwing his cousin-sister whom I resembled. Suffice it to say, I stayed away from dating apps for a few years after that.

Finding the most important person in life – myself

As I grew older, I started enjoying my own company. I wasn’t afraid to eat at a restaurant alone (despite the judgemental stares), or go out for a movie alone. Solo dates became my new thing, and let me tell you, I learnt to fall in love with myself. Soon, I discovered that I don’t need a man to tell me I am pretty. Because the truth is, unless I believe it myself, no amount of external validation will work.

Despite all this self-growth, however, there was a part of me that was afraid. Afraid I wasn’t pretty enough, afraid that I was unlovable, and afraid of opening up.

The truth is, your relationships and your interactions with your family play a huge role in how you see yourself. And as you grow older, the people who come into your life, often leave an impact. And if those interactions and impacts are negative, leaving you with self-doubt and self-hatred, love and romance will be the last thing on your mind.

It’s okay to not date at all

So, I may be a 30-something single woman, but I have fought my internal battles. Because I realised it was a lot more important for me to love myself before I love someone else. And the thing with loving yourself is, you no longer settle for less. I don’t want perfection. Perfection is boring but I do want compassion, kindness, respect, support, and humour. And until I find those things, I am willing to wait. Falling in love is not a chore, and I wouldn’t want to treat it like one.

why I haven't dated
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So, to all the women out there who are 22, 32, 42, or 52, who have never fallen in love – it’s perfectly alright. You only have to live by your timeline and no one else’s. It’s perfectly okay to be single even when everyone around you is coupled up because you matter the most. And if you are so desperate to fall in love, fall in love with yourself. Trust me, it’s a beautiful feeling.

Related: I May Be Fat, But Is That Going To Stop Me From Celebrating My Body? Hell, No!

 

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