Thursday, April 28, 2011

Relationships and fiscal bottomlines

My buddy R was over a few days ago, and he has never looked so ‘in the pink of health’, despite the fact that he had broken a leg not so long ago and was still recuperating. I asked him what the secret was, adding the cliched, "Is it love?"

"Mad or what!" he said.  "I haven’t stepped out much in the last few months and I am not dating either. I just realised how much being single helps your bank balance. I have never had so much money in my account!"

He had a point. The thing is, when you are on the pull, you have to be seen at the right places, doing the right thing, hoping the right people from the opposite sex will notice you. Plus, you have to eat the right thing, drink the right thing (eating vada-pav and drinking nariyal paani  and going for a walk on the beach doth not a date make, although it looks good in films like Chhoti si baat). Sometimes you have to offer to buy a round of drinks, (or worse, shots!) to impress a certain someone. Not to mention having spent enough on self-grooming—a good haircut at the very least, some cool, yet not over-the top clothes. Having done all that, you have to be able to spot a suitable someone you might want to chat up, and then that suitable someone will have to want to chat you up too.  By the time you call it a night, you are a few thousand rupees poorer (at the very least) and may or may not have scored. So over to the next outing, and it all starts all over again.

Even something as low-involvement as a movie date sets you back by a couple of  thousands. Think weekend. Think gold class. Think nachos and popcorn that cost as much as a starter in a decent eatery. Think water that could well buy you a pint of beer. Think transport to and from the multiplex and drinks pre and post movie. So much for holding hands or at best, a snog.

Single (though not by intent) women, on the other hand, are constantly shopping. Being seen in the right clothes, bags and shoes takes their mind off their sexual bankruptcy to a large extent. In fact, too much retail therapy is a dead giveaway for dubious-state-in-relationship for a woman. And more often than not, she ends up being disappointed with the men she is on the verge of dating, because they still haven’t recovered from their fiscally viable singledom, in fact have begun to enjoy it.

Marriage on the other hand, is good economics. You save on rent, petrol, random socialising (having to score is no longer a priority) you spend less on takeways, you share domestic helps, drivers, etc, and you start SIPs. Of course, the minute the marriage is on the rocks, your credit card bills shoot up again. A friend of mine who is going through a separation seems to be spending absurdly on makeovers, clothes and shoes while her other half is spending it all on alcohol. Clearly a no-win moneywise.

Dating is an equally unviable stage, and the shorter it is, the better. People in relationships for several years are a perennially broke lot. They shop way too much, drink way too much (how else do you hang out all night long), buy too much stuff, and then borrow to pay their credit card bills, get too many manicures, go on too many getaways. Plus  there is the added pressure of having to buy expensive gifts for birthdays, anniversaries, valentines and whatnots (who was the twerp who came up with expensive gift = true love). If they ever get to the point of getting married, they are in debt again, because by then, their finances have cleaned out doing random shallow things.

Which is why I increasingly notice people of undefinable status hanging out in groups of total randoms, pretending to have a great time. It insulates them from having to flash a date or spend (they could well be nursing a beer all night), it increases the probability of scoring, it gives them an easy exit option, should the night not work out to their favour. Plus, there is no pressure on making serious conversation, and the whole night could go by with just a few words like “No way!” or “What are you saying?” or “How cool is that?” while shaking your head and totally escaping eye contact.

I guess times are a-changing. When you have more Facebook friends than real ones, you also pay a price for it. The price of make-believe. 


  1. You sound like 'The girl in the green scarf' from the movie / book Confessions of a Shopaholic! You could start another column - Economics for relationship dummies!

    Cheers! very insightful article.

  2. Well written ..... you make a good point! :)

  3. thank you all
    @Isha: Great idea. Will think about it.