After a break-up in a long-distance affair, Kamrul (alias), then 25, craved somebody to save him from being lonely.
“It took some breakups and bitter experiences to realise that a love story isn’t my cup of tea,” states Kamrul Abdullah, a late-thirties workaholic who runs a tech startup company.
“Why still single?” “Wait, I have Benson,” smiles Kamrul.
After a short pause, he explains, “Every night I stand on my balcony for a moment. Looking at the cityscape, I cuddle Mr Benson, my Labrador. I don’t want to ruin this companionship by being married.”
Kamrul echoes the unnoticed trend of urban singlehood. National surveys reveal that the percentage of unmarried people has increased over the past five decades. For many of them, it’s a choice.
Under both hoods
On the relationship note, Pallab Khan (alias), a mid-thirties film crew member, says, “A romantic partnership is a full-time job. There is no option, you always have to consider the asks of your long-time partner. You can never be indifferent to chores such as laundry and cleaning.”
Tamanna Rahman (alias), a 40-plus university teacher, regards love as an undeniable part of life. Despite that, she says that “I am decidedly single. This does not mean I hate marriage. This social institution has served many people for centuries. But when someone forces me to recognise marriage as the fate of women, I have an issue with that,” she states.
Synthia Parvin (alias), a web developer in a private company, empathises with Tamanna.
“Crossing the thirties, a single person becomes a gossip topic for the social circle. And I see, a lot of my friends are in a relationship, just to fit in, without being in love, even if they know it. I pity them,” says Synthia.
Being single brings loneliness. According to Kamrul, regardless of being single or married, anyone can be lonely if they choose to be. Other than that, single life has much more to offer.
“I don’t have time to buy loneliness. On the weekends, I just roll on the bed all day and finish an entire season of some Netflix series.”
Pallab expands the idea, “Living alone, feeling alone, being lonely are different conditions. We usually combine them. I book my weekends for a marathon adda with buddies. If I had a live-in partner, I would just rush back home.”
“I can’t be lonelier than my married friends. They often stop speaking to each other for long periods after a trivial fight,” Synthia includes.
Pointing to single living, Pallab says, “I go home late at night, and sometimes dine outside. That’s the routine for the media industry here. At my parents’ home, life was chaotic. Their parenting supervision slowly diminished my morale.”
Synthia moved out during her grad days. She had no boyfriend. Still, her parents couldn’t trust her to live alone. She had issues with them all along.
“I got molested when I was a kid. My parents can't talk about my childhood trauma. They believe marriage can resolve all issues. I stopped visiting relatives to avoid being questioned about my singlehood.”
Tamanna has similar issues with her parents. She was an expat before moving to Bangladesh in 2007. “My parents were fine with me living alone abroad. Now they fear what society might say. They even hide the fact of my single living in Dhaka from my relatives,” she adds.
Tamanna wraps up by saying “I am single by choice and still my life is fulfilled. Let’s evaluate our actions, not choices of lifestyle,”.
Singles have many reasons for their lifestyles — from having their own space to avoiding social dogma — that rarely includes loneliness.