I am an American fashion designer in love with my Indian business partner. I am much older to him and have been married twice to Americans. We get along rather well as business partners and also have great sexual chemistry. I wanted to stay as partners and companions and never wanted to marry him. I later found out that that his mother is asking him to settle down and start a family. I also learned that he is being introduced to Indian girls for marriage. Recently, he partnered with an Australian designer who is a young attractive single woman. He has been flying down frequently to Australia for design meetings, and I saw pictures of him and the designer in a close embrace. On confronting him, he denies anything other than business with her, and says he is seeing the Indian girls to simply humour his mother. I am insecure, because he has stopped having sex with me and says it’s because I’m nagging him continuously and therefore he’s never in the mood. I proposed marriage and he turned it down saying he doesn’t want to marry to quell my insecurities, and that he believes in my initial view of companionship without marriage. I feel I am losing him. What should I do?
Ans: Losing a person assumes that they were yours to win over. Human beings can and should not attempt to ‘possess’ each other. People can partake in shared journeys. A loss can’t be precluded in all circumstances and in some cases a loss is caused when a ‘happy fantasy’ feels like it may no longer come true. What is a ‘happy fantasy’? Everyone has different happy fantasies that they love to tend to, think about and hope to live out someday. Wealth, love, health, freedom, travel, family, popularity – everyone pursues their unique ‘happy fantasies’ differently.
Having a person as he/she currently is or previously was – to continue to brighten up our lives and stay enmeshed with us – is indeed a type of ‘happy fantasy’ too. This is a common fantasy for people looking for intimacy and companionship. Is that what you are currently seeking?
The happy fantasy of a life together with your partner or the happy fantasy of a certain type of enjoyment that you have envisioned for yourself and your partner can feel highly personal and potent.
However, when the fulfilment of a fantasy feels challenged and gets frustrated, it can be disheartening and sometimes it takes a while to take stock of what happened. Fantasies come parcelled into our heads as dreams that give us a reason to hope and live. A famous poet once said that ‘Only in their dreams can a man truly be free’! Free to roam and free to experience! Everyone has the right to dream. However, when dreams change, agendas shift too. People are possessive about their dreams as dreams are a part of their identity.
However, for dreams involving other people to become a reality, those dreams have to be shared with the people or stakeholders who play a key role in perhaps helping make those dreams come true. If someone’s dream is to get married to Person A, chances are that Person A needs to be in the know at some point. A person’s dream can morph into a head-strong agenda pretty quickly as well. Agendas clash in relationships when another person isn’t on board with what is being defined as ‘a shared agenda’.
One person may want marriage and another may want casual sex. One person may want a friendship while the other may merely want to keep things strictly professional. Agendas change with people’s moods and shifting priorities. It would seem like your agendas changed in your relationship with your Indian business partner. First you didn’t want a relationship with him and then you found yourself in one with him. This is likely to have felt promising at once, but it currently feels confusing because now it would seem that perhaps his agendas have changed too. To be confused is normal in such a time, but your confusion can only be addressed if you initiate an honest and open dialogue with him at a mutually convenient time.
It is important for you to understand what’s going on in his mind. You may not necessarily agree with or be able to fully understand his reasons for being a certain way but you are going to have to learn to accept that there is a strong possibility that his agendas and dreams for his life have evolved with time. These agendas and dreams may no longer involve you or your role may be a limited one in his new plan. This can feel disorienting and humiliating, but since you have been married twice before, you are well aware that people change with time and those changes can sometimes adversely affect relationships.
People enter our lives with their own baggage, habits, expectations, idiosyncrasies and chequered pasts. People don’t exist on this planet to fit into to our master plans. Our plans change frequently…so do theirs and that’s okay. It is our responsibility to negotiate with them to the best of our ability and with a sensitivity to the fact that they may want something different from their life.
Perhaps your Indian partner has a strong reason for not wanting to get ‘tied down’ by marriage. Is he really that afraid of commitment? Is he fine with commitment, but is he no longer interested in being committed to you? Does he want to limit his involvement with women in general? Perhaps he is keen to test to waters with other women. Is he too busy? Perhaps he is no longer as invested in you as he once was. Perhaps he’s confused. Perhaps he’s buying time. Perhaps he wants to please his mother. Perhaps he likes saying things to you that he knows you will like to hear. Perhaps he’s in it just for the sex and for little else. Perhaps he likes his Australian partner more after he’s spent more time with her. Perhaps he’s lying to you. Perhaps he really will marry one of the Indian girls he’s been introduced to by his mother. Perhaps he doesn’t understand what love means.
There are an endless number of possibilities that exist about what’s really going on with him but you will never know unless you take the initiative to investigate what he’s going through currently.
Go after the facts. You need to express your wishes and concerns to him face-to-face by taking responsibility for how you feel about the relationship. Prepared yourself for a truth that may make you uncomfortable or that may even resolve the matter. Both possibilities exist at this point.
Negotiations ground all relationships. When you can’t give each other what you will want, it’s important to either annul the relationship or save it by talking or involving a mediator (like a counsellor, friend or relative) if you will have reached an impasse.
(Aman Rajan Bhonsle – Consulting Psychosocial Analyst & Youth Mentor)