“Your greatest creation is yourself. Like any great work of art,
creating a great self means putting in hard work, every day, for years.”—Joss
I was on a treadmill in a Delhi hotel when I got chatting to a girl with
raven hair, pink cheeks and flashing eyes. She was in her early 30s,
heavy according to Western standards (but just right for the East and
the Caribbean man). She was a New India girl. Educated, urbane,
confident; with a job in marketing. She had a packed life of work and
travel and weekends of clubbing, theatre, and galleries. There was just
one problem, she said, looking out into the Delhi fog through the glass
with misty eyes. There were no marriageable men around. The joke was on
women, she said: “We thought we were advancing ourselves, wanting it
all, when actually it’s turned out to be a choice between a career or an
early marriage. Men are scared of women who are too independent.”
She surrounded herself with gay men for company to take her to events.
This was deja vu. Just two weeks back on a treadmill in a gym in
Port-of-Spain, a pretty woman in her mid-30s went on for an agonising 50
minutes about her series of failed relationships because the men were
“too immature, unfaithful, afraid to commit, easily intimidated by
With Valentine’s Day flurry just behind us, with heartache rather than
roses around, I rang up an eligible bachelor (just the type the
Port-of-Spain and Delhi girl would go for) for a perspective on this
Joshua (not his real name) just turned 40, seemed economically stable,
was passionate about his work, and a great communicator. He gave me his
take on what a man like him wants in a woman. “There are two types of
people: the type in long committed relationships with short breaks in
between; and the opposite— the sorts who have short relationships with
long breaks of solitude in between. I’m the latter. I think people
choose their own relationship status. It depends on how much of a
concession we are willing to make to our partners and ourselves. Maybe
these women weren’t willing to give up much and neither are potential
"The issues may be the same across the continents, but it is different
dating in small societies. I’m 40, unmarried, still dating and
wondering about my own commitment phobia. Maybe I am selfish in wanting
to have what I truly want versus what society wants.
“I lived in Europe—Holland—for 18 years. There you get one chance: a
telephone number; and if doesn’t work out, you never see them again. In
T&T, it’s a slow courtship ritual. Rather than a direct approach, you
tend to go through friends or family. If it doesn’t work out, then your
life gets awkward. It’s got to do with emotional risk. Too many people
are involved. Which could explain why women may not be asked out on too
“I have a date before and after Valentine’s Day. At age 30, feeling
lonely and left out as couples celebrated long term relationships, I
might have invited a girl out on Valentine’s Day, and the message that
sent out—of a certain type of commitment— was not in sync with my
intentions. When I was younger, it was their fault when things didn’t
work out. It was all about playing mind games, power struggles.
“At 40, I feel much more able to get into a lasting worthwhile
relationship than I was at 30. I am more confident, driven and direct.
“If I look at my direct circle of friends, most women are achievers,
educated, curious. I was raised in a female household by a single
mother. I am comfortable around women. I have a huge attraction to the
female energy, both grounded and playful. I don’t know what most men
want, but this is what I like.
“For me, education is a huge attraction, and by this I don’t mean
everyone has to have a PhD. People’s choices might not include getting a
“Neediness has no place between a man and woman. You will take your own
issues and problems and introduce that to relationship. In the first few
months the rush of a new relationship is amazing. It’s like a shot of
cocaine as our bodies produce love drugs like oxytocin, dopamine,
norepinephrine; when we are not functioning properly, it’s amazing.
Psychologists call it ‘love sickness.’ It subsides with reality. That’s
when, if its founded on solid friendship, your partners’ true self comes
out and relationships falter.
“I have met many lovely, eligible, available, worldly women in Trinidad;
but too many are content simply to be beautiful, and fail to develop
their intellect in a way I find appealing, or base their own self-worth
on their man’s position and wealth.
“Many men are looking for women who have developed themselves, with a
huge personality; women who want to be the best they can be, and not
depend on a man for happiness.
“Whatever anyone, man or woman, chooses to do that allows them to be all
they can be...purpose and fulfillment in their own lives is what makes
them attractive. ”
I realised then that the biggest
relationship women can have is with ourselves, with constant questioning
which may preclude absolutes or peace but comes with huge rewards of
insight into this wondrous world.