Everything You Need To Know About Eligible — A Community of Independent Indian Singles
It’s the 10th week running of a support group that I run for Independent Singles who are 26 years and above and looking for a serious relationship/ long-term commitment. Come Sunday 4pm, I get on to a Zoom call to start admitting kind and curious, young and confident souls into a safe space where people get them. I also need to attend to some last-minute messages that show up mentioning why someone is unable to attend, how they are struggling with Internet bandwidth and would go audio-only, or why they should not be paired with a certain individual in a one on one in the breakout room since they are colleagues and it’d get awkward.
It started off as a women’s only circle for the first four sessions. Here’s what I learned:
- Mental makeup: Healing from the past relationships and gaining acceptance of who you are takes time. Getting into a zone where you are willing to put yourself out there, get to know people and eventually go exclusive with one is a journey. It’s only when you take ownership of your life that you are able to enjoy the process. We had drop offs since people realised they needed time to revisit their past and figure things out.
- Prepare for setbacks: Rejections are a part of life. To have a plan on what you are going to do when you meet rejections on the way is critical. Every interaction is a learning — you learn more about yourself, what you can put up with and what you cannot. We had people commit to e-meeting a new person every week before coming to the call. This was their way to be committed to the process and not give up because of setbacks.
- Work as an excuse: When everything else is crumbling like a cookie, work is an easy escape to an alternate reality where you have control over things. It takes a lot of energy to move on mentally even after a marriage is over and papers are signed. The scars that it leaves you with does not evaporate with legalities now in place. People have used it as a distraction to not overthink about relationships and bowed out of our sessions.
- Know your reasons: In a modern world where a man and a woman do not necessarily have a provider and a nurturer equation, it’s important to understand WHY you’d want to get married. We had people who went asking their couple friends/ role model couples on what made them get into marriage and sustain it. Gaining an understanding by asking these questions and leading with curiosity helped them frame their own answers on what’s the purpose behind marriage — a lifelong companionship where you can have conversations without calendaring all the time.
From the fifth week, I opened it up to Single men and made this a mixed group call. Here’s what I learned:
- You Are Not Alone: Looking for a life partner is a lonely process. For people who migrated from their homes aged 15 to an engineering college with barely any females to workplaces where dating was perhaps not acceptable to a heartbreak or two owing to long distance, inter-religion or inter-caste issues to healing from all that and rebuilding the capacity to trust someone again — it takes time and a whole lotta energy. Adulting is hard. As you grow, you may not be able to discuss these issues with your coworkers or your flatmates. Your family is trying to be supportive but they either think you are fussy or don’t understand what’s taking so long to get just one person in the whole wide world. Joining a support group where others are going through the same journey as yours makes you believe that you are not alone. The universe is not conspiring against you. Everybody is going through it and sharing these stories enables tribal knowledge. Together, we are powerful and better equipped with knowledge on platforms, behaviour, trends, what’s working and what’s not. Besides, everyone in the community is encouraged to play cupid after taking a double opt-in from both the sides. So if someone understands you enough to introduce you to their best friend or cousin, it’s a win-win situation.
- Kick your bias: We are shaped by the experiences we go through and the stories we tell ourselves. This leads to certain biases that kick in without being fully aware of it. We did an icebreaker activity where everybody messaged me a funny incident from their lives. I’d read these out without mentioning names. People had to guess whose story it was. I read out one where a person tried making tea after lockdown while being at home. Their mom walked into the kitchen 10 minutes later to ask why it was taking that long. They were waiting for the tea powder to dissolve. That’s it. Many people assumed it was a guy citing who wouldn’t know something so basic in the kitchen. It was a girl who went to a B-school and never spent that much time in the kitchen to know this sooner. (I remember a newly married medico in Jaipur asked me how to make tea since it was her first day after marriage at the new home. It’s not about gender. It’s about where we spent our time and energy all this while.)
- Expand your world view: Gaining perspectives by talking to people who are different than you helps you become more empathetic. This validation came in feedback forms and voice notes from my users. While social media, matrimonial websites and dating apps expect you to present the best and most polished version of yourselves, I’ve hosted icebreakers to talk about the mistakes you’ve made lately and how that made you feel. We didn’t need a script in place when people offered to talk about how they dealt with similar situations at work or otherwise. This has led to people feeling a connection and familiarity and a sense of comfort returning to the calls every Sunday. Some call it a Sunday ritual.
- Gender balance (or the lack of it): This is a support group to enable Independent Singles in getting closer to their relationship goals. It is not a matchmaking service. (Read on my journey as a matchmaker here). Therefore, just like the real world scenario, men could outnumber women on these calls. Is that something to worry about? Does this dissolve the purpose of these calls? NO. Everyone is on the journey to finding their life partner. It won’t happen in a day, yet we don’t want you to put off your life dreams for a later date. So you learn and share and grow with this community. We’ve people sharing their favourite articles and recommending podcasts on relationships, seeking advice and sharing how they dealt with certain situations, confiding in each other as they go through this journey. As long as you are sincere with your efforts, willing to unlearn and learn, we’ll be there to talk about everything that matters to you in this journey from health, style, work, money, dating and relationships itself.
Eligible sessions are better experienced than explained. It’s an hour of multiple segments to get to know people from the same gender, people from the opposite gender, change your view if need be, have conversations, share resources and become allies in the process. To get into this highly curated community, schedule an introductory call here: calendly.com/radhikamohta
We’ll hold the space for you.