Have you ever noticed how most of the talk in beauty parlours and salons revolves around relationship statuses? Of course, the primary talk is about the latest facial treatment and the latest hair colour product, but once you have chosen what you want to get done and then relax on the chair while the beautician works; the talk inevitably shifts to marriages, engagements and the like.

This phenomenon is more common in the beauty salons that are very local and run by the neighbourhood auntie. Put off by the prohibitory costs of professional salons, most of us go there. While no salon auntie has come right out and asked me about my relationship status, I see that talk going on all around me with the multiple women beautifying themselves there.

The talk usually starts with someone coming in there for a special treatment as they are soon going to be a guest or a bridesmaid in some wedding. The talk then veers to some dress or style of make up seen at a previous wedding and from there on starts the discussion about whose wedding is coming up, who will get engaged and who seemingly has no hope.

While salons and parlours are the place women bond at and most female bonding occurs over relationship discussions, somehow I find myself disconcerted if parlour chatter is only about impending marriages. It leaves me with a mild dread that sooner or later someone will ask me about my marital status and it will go all downhill from there.

Then I also wonder if I would be more comfortable with my single status if there were no automatic judgements and opinions attached to it. Will it be easier if no one ever asked or even if they asked, they never made my single status into a character flaw? Will it be better if they still considered me ‘normal’?

But then again, is it necessary to be single and a particular way? Like the discussion about singleness is divided into two categories. One category is the single who is happy being single. The other is the single who is bitter about being single. And who decides which is a better kind of single? Some singles struggle with the singleness for a while and then eventually accept it and just stay happy about it. Some are happy from the word go. Yet others have some days of bitterness and more days of just an emptiness. But if you show any amount of unhappiness at being single, you are advised to become happy or start trusting in God’s will and somehow accept it quickly, just so that the other person doesn’t have to feel uncomfortable. Why is it not okay to be single but not like it or accept it wholly. Maybe some of us don’t have a zen attitude.

Funnily the same kind of judgement doesn’t happen when it comes to some other losses or lacks in life. Say someone doesn’t have children or lost a child and they remain bitter about it for years, people are more ‘adjusting’ about it. They try to ‘understand’ and generally refrain from commenting on the bitterness or lack of acceptance of that person. That is a life event, just as marriage is. So why is the same empathy not given to a single person? Why the look of sympathy or one of disdain when it comes to a single person? Why the automatic assumption that they didn’t try hard enough or that it is their fault that they are single? When we can have a fatalistic attitude about other life events and empathise with the grief that comes with its non-fruition, why not the same for marriage and a lack of it?

But there is a question I have wondered about. Is it easier for single men out there than single women and by single men I mean those who have crossed 35-40 and are still single, is it easy for you guys or is it as difficult as a woman of the same age that is single? Do you get judged or is it just us women?

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