On love, relationships and #WhatWomenReallyWant

[Okay - that may have been a click-bait title. Or maybe not.]   A few days back, I had a rather interesting conversation with a slightly younger friend, about love, marriage and relationships in general.
She said, (and I quote almost verbatim):
"Everywhere I turn these days, I see relationships breaking up. And what surprises me is that most of them seem to be love marriages. I can understand arranged marriages falling through - often they are from different backgrounds and have almost nil in common. But surely, love marriages - the ones that seem to be built on premises of having known each other for a certain duration and having interacted a lot more before marriage - how do they fail, I wonder. I’m slowly losing faith in love itself”.
  For a moment, I was tempted to answer that she was probably looking for love in the wrong direction. And that probably a lot of these relationships break up because of late realisation of things such as incompatibility, chemistry and not knowing what they really want from the relationships. But I didn’t. Mainly because I didn’t want her to be any more disenchanted with love that she already seemed to be. I did think about this for a few days, but in the end, I just let it be.


Now, as some of you may know, recently I had the opportunity to be part of a panel discussion organised by Women’s Web. Coincidentally, the topic was #WhatWomenWant in love and relationships, and the lovely folks over at WW thought it’d be a great idea to get a male perspective on it too. [Of course, it’s a totally different matter that I was quite literally sh**ng my pants on the run-up to the event because I’d never spoken at an event previously.]


Anyway, the discussion went rather well with the audience chipping in with a few view points of their own. There were a few contrasting opinions too, as one would expect when having a discussion on a topic like love and relationships. But, it all came down to one thing. Why do relationships seem to run into trouble a lot more today and what has changed?’ Which brings me back to the point that my friend had made earlier.


So here are a few thoughts (coupled with a few of the takeaways from the discussion):


Inherently, I don’t think men and women want different things from love and relationships. Gender, irrespective, what we all want is someone who, in spite of all our differences and quirks, will support us, be by our side, knock some sense into us when needed and be willing to stick it through till the end. I realise that this suspiciously sounds like a ‘friends with benefits’ kind of scenario, and in a lot of ways, I think love in its entirety is something like that. Except that the ‘benefit’ isn’t just …well…sex.


The concept of love has certainly evolved over the years. But deep down, I think we have a rather skewed definition of love. Thanks to books, technology, movies and so on,  we all (okay, I'm generalising) have this very rosy definition of love. Yes, the mush and gooey-ness are very much present, but it's impossible to keep it going 24x7 365 days a year. Why? Because we're real people. We have our off-days. And we have our moments. Hence why we indulge in days like Valentines Day and special occasions to try and make up for the other days.


But here's the truth that most of us haven't realised as yet. If it wasn't for love, you probably wouldn't still be together with your partner or spouse. It is because deep down, we all want to make it work and still maintain the hope that it will. We are no longer the same society that our parents and grandparents lived in. Most of us refuse to be tied down by thoughts such as ‘What will the others think if I get a divorce or break off a relationship?’. Yes, they’re still considered taboo topics, but at least we’re slowly starting to make some progress there. And that means it is, in some ways, easier for us to walk out of a relationship that just isn't working anymore. Or wait for as long as it takes, to make sure that we find the right person.


As you go through life, your perspective of love changes. While the reasons for relationships breaking up could be many, it often starts with this one simple thing - expectations. Our perspectives and actions change. But our expectations often don’t. We still expect the same Lovey-Dovey-PDA And gestures that we experienced on a regular basis either during the initial stages of courtship or marriage. But circumstances change, and often so does the frequency. It doesn't mean that we've fallen out of love. It's just that we need to have a more realistic take on it. In many ways, 'real love' is an oxymoron of sorts.


We expect real love to be one big fusion of constant 'sweep me off my feet and butterflies in my stomach' gestures all day long but realistically it's much more complex, ever-evolving, and made up of a number of smaller meaningful gestures delivered sporadically.


Don’t get me wrong. This is not a post on how to make relationships work. I don’t think anybody has the perfect formula for that. It’s a whole bag of mixed things that make it work - from knowing when to be expressive to knowing when to let some things go. And it is a whole lot of hard work. But you’ve got to want to keep it going in order to make it work.


[tweetbox design="box05" float="none"]Relationships work when we realise that we are individuals with varied interests bound together by common strands [/tweet_box]


So give each other that space and respect. Have friends outside your common ones and each other. Most of all, trust one another. Also, it's high time that relationships move on from this concept of 'the other person completing us'. You should be complementing each other, not fitting the pieces of a jigsaw. But at the same time, don't get too used to not having each other around. It's all about finding the right balance of being with each other, while not giving up on your individuality. See, real love is a very complex thing. [I'd also like to add a very 'un-sanskari' thing to this - if you can, live with each other before marriage and take a couple of trips. You'll be amazed at some of the things you discover about each other]


Now, if I told you that in Reality that all this gyaan was for me to plug this clip of the Women's Web event, will you shoot me? You probably would. ?




PS. Yes, I gesture a lot while speaking. I did not realise that. PPS: There is some awkwardness, but I did speak better after this initial hiccup. Or so I'm told and I believe them. PPPS: (okay, this is too many 'P's - this is an edited version of a small portion of the event)  


So, what do you think #Womenreallywant in love and relationships? And do you think it's different from what men want?