The Rise of Single South-Asian Women

The Rise of Single South-Asian Women

by Mani Hayre

When are you getting married?

Who hasn’t been asked this question at some family function by a random, and often not-so-random family member? 

Particularly if the woman in question is over 35 and perceived to be getting older, less viable and one who is seen to be living her best life and thriving, yet nothing will compare to being seen as fully complete without a marriage, husband and kids.

I mean what does it matter when our accomplishments can range from a promotion, thriving in our field of work, buying our own place, publishing a book, solo travelling, or just living a full life, yet as South Asian women, there is something inherently wrong with us (according to society) that by 40 we’re still single. 

But can the blame all lie on women? 

At a singles speed dating event earlier in the year, there was one particular guy who by the time he’d made it around the group of wonderful women, was completely exasperated. 

Why you ask? 

Well, he was questioning why the women were so career-driven and passionate about other hobbies, why they weren’t just wanting to be wives and mothers and leave the men to be breadwinners (not in this economy my friend!). 

But God, forbid we achieve success without a man. 

What this unfortunate fellow failed to comprehend is that South Asian women have evolved, and yet the men are struggling to keep up with that evolution. 

Evolution of options. Evolution of saying no thanks. Evolution of finances and owning their own properties. Evolution of not settling. And most importantly evolution of choice. 

Unlike our ancestors, women who were born and raised in the UK (or in the diaspora) have been given access to a life that was meant to be better than our parents and grandparents. It’s a life where women are educated in the West, whilst respecting their cultures at home. A life where we’re expected to be both cultured and well versed in our mother tongue daughter as well as being the corporate baddie bringing in that paycheck, off the back of a university education that didn’t exist before us. 

We have been raised to be our own support, the support of our families and to be the perfect partner, unfortunately, our male counterparts have not. Of course, this is generalising but when you’ve been in the dating scene for a decade, and are still single you learn a thing or two from your own experiences as well as those of the women around you. 

South Asian women, on the other hand, have matured, we have grown, and we are breaking the shackles of generation trauma, whilst trying to find our place in the world. We have healed and evolved emotionally. We feel sorry for the men missing out on this evolution of worlds where you can be both Western and Eastern, keeping your culture alive but dismantling the shackles of patriarchy, of toxic traditions that don’t suit anyone. Including men! 

The rise of single South Asian women, is often not a choice. We yearn for companionship, for a life our parents wished we had, but the difference here is we cannot just settle for anyone for fear of being single. The alternative is much worse. 

The blame isn’t on either gender, it’s on society still treating women as if they are property that must give up their lives and identity to fit their spouse’s family mould when they merge. Time and time again I’ve seen, heard and experienced men, younger and older telling me (and other women) that our lives should revolve around them and their families after marriage and our own parents and responsibilities should lessen. 

How many times do our elders joke that as a married daughter, we don’t belong to their family anymore? Joke or not, that societal talk is toxic and again puts women into the category of ‘property’ that moves from house to house or owner to owner. 

We are emotionally intelligent, complex, duty-bound and generational-breaking leaders and we deserve to be taken care of by an equally emotionally intelligent, complex and duty-bound partner. It doesn’t need to be a competition, which is often the case with South Asian men. Perhaps the fragility that women are being noticed, seen, and applauded in a way their mothers, aunts and grandmas weren’t, can be seen to be a little emasculating if they themselves do the bare minimum and get praise. 

There is a lot to unpack, men need to go through their own growth, breaking shackles and generational trauma. Until that happens, it won’t be a level playing field. Patriarchy is just as toxic to men as it is to women in our culture, and until men break free, women will stay single and happily so. 

The result of single South Asian women has probably been a long time coming. Each generation brings with it more freedom of choice. 

It’ll be interesting to see how the dynamic shifts for the next. 

We’re strong and independent. We have become the men we deserve and refuse to back down until we’re treated as an equal partner. When our friends and family treat us so well, we refuse to be treated less than when it comes to our romantic partners. 

The best part is we’ve filled our lives with love, support and meaningful relationships that it would take something spectacular from a romantic partner to add to that. The myth that single women are unhappy simply isn’t true as our lives are full of purpose, meaning and lots of love and support, because we’ve built new communities that thrive outside of marriage. Perhaps this is what irks our aunties so much because this freedom to be happy with our singledom is a choice that was denied them.

Here’s to all the happy single South Asian women, may they continue to thrive and ultimately be the loves of their own lives.





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