Whether you entered your 30s without a rock on your finger or as a divorcee, you now are officially dating in Pakistan as an adult. Your mere presence makes aunties clutch their tasbeehs and sigh “Beta, I hope you find someone soon”. Pregnant women hold their bellies and say they’ll pray especially hard for you during labor, because only the miracle of life can save you now. If you’re going to compete with twenty-year-olds with BMIs of 17 and joras that cost more than 10 lakhs, it’s time relearn how to date as an adult.
The desire to couple up is a global phenomenon and in Pakistan, where your social configuration is greatly improved with a plus one, the pressure to marry is heightened. It’s kind of a form of arrested development: members of your girl group have married and their social lives revolve around their spouses and children, while you are still living in the same bedroom, eating the same meals and asking for the same car as you were at sixteen. Their even number plans have difficulty incorporating your odd one thrown in.
The benefits of settling down aren’t just social constructs. You see, you’re genetically driven to find a mate to care for your (unborn) offspring. The cavewoman was flashing her pre-laser hairy legs and perfectly skinned bear hides to get that genetically superior caveman to provide her with the strongest cave babies. This reflects a bone-deep Darwinian drive for companionship gained through a formal relationship: marriage.
So what’s going on here? You’re smart, funny, good looking, have no major mental illness, but still single. Lady, you need to start playing the game:
1. Pakistani sorority girl: While it’s great that you stand out in the crowd with your textured long bob, Fashion Week-appropriate outfit and hilarious banter, none of that has gotten you a rishta. Grow your hair into long, highlighted curls, wear an outfit that costs more than your car but covers all your lady bits and chuck that cig and drink as far your Pilates-toned arm can throw. Drop 20 pounds immediately. Now drop 10 more. Men like shiny, pretty things that purr like an Aston Martin so start paying attention to Top Gear and wax away.
2. You’re perfect: You know what every happily married woman has over you? The singular belief in her absolute perfection. Those husbands are never going to get anyone better. Their good mornings are met with a dose of “you are so lucky to have me”. All that therapy may have gotten you in touch with your identity, but your insecurities need to stay inside that consulting room. There is no benefit in being honest, apart from having both sides of the bed to yourself!
3. Become socially relevant: Luckily, every other girl is a designer and every one of them has an Instagram account. Buy some clothes, get your pictures on point and send them in immediately. Flood the Pakistani feed with your image. Download a WordPress theme, make your own blog, and you’re now on the red carpet. You’re an “insta-celebrity” and those guys are just lining up to bask in your limelight.
4. Time crunch: If he’s over 35 and hasn’t brought you a ring as dessert on your fifth date, walk away. No, seriously, stand up and walk away, woman.
5. Ghost boyfriend: Even if you’ve said two out of the three required qabools and you get a text asking “Hey, are you seeing so and so?”, this should be your reply: “I’ve never met him in my life”. Every successful relationship in Pakistan begins in a shroud of secrecy so thick that it would make the ISI give a slow clap. Openly dating past 30 is basically asking for romantic doom. Every comment and interference will steadily chip that relationship into oblivion, so tell no one until the nikkahnama is signed.
*At the time of this upload, the author is over 30 and (happily) single