Why isn’t anyone discussing the mental health of single Indian men living abroad?

Many single NRI men are in deep depression during December — a lonely holiday month, it overlaps with the month their NRI friends go to India, and come back with a wife, or news of a future wife.

There’s a FOMO feeling. “Should I have gone to India too? Roommate is meeting 7 girls in Coimbatore, and one seems promising, and I? I just got off a video call with this girl who faked an American accent and didn’t smile at all. What am I doing here? Where’s the hope?”

It’s a bit of a shock for the single NRI guy, when his weekend cricket buddy calls him to say “Dude, meri to set ho gayi. I got engaged”. Happy as he might be, there’s a pinch inside. “Why not me?”. Even the undeserving is getting married — That anger-management-class worthy classmate, the show-off girl in the USC whatsapp group, and that college guy who didn’t deserve to get a $140K job but got it. Everyone seems undeserving, and he, he’s a good guy, but it’s not coming through. So the single NRI man falls into sadness, despair, loneliness and fear, of “Where will I find her?

Not being part of the “hooked” gang, can feel miserable. Life in America happens on weekends. Imagine a Saturday, when he takes a short road trip to a vineyard, with friends and their fresh new wives, who walk all along the vineyard holding hands, and he’s feeling like crap because he so badly wants that too — to experience American lands with someone he can call his own. He thinks “I hope I find someone in-time!”.

NRI women also have roadblocks, but I specifically want to address issues that NRI men face — girls interested only in higher earners, or girls in a rush to marry “we should decide in 3 meetings” when the guy needs it a little slow, or the expectations around his career — taking a risk seems almost impossible for him. No one wants to marry a risky guy. There are plenty of de-risked men in the competition — the Google software engineer being the most promising on paper, as if a job is a bigger risk than a person.

To these single NRI men, I say, here are some ways to cope (things I wish I did when I was in the US!)

1. What’s your goal?

Pretty sure Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk aren’t sitting around feeling bad their friends are getting married. They are out there with a burning passion to do something. What is your something?

2. Haan mein Left Behind hoon. To?

The sinking feeling of being “left behind”. I hated it when people told me “your path is different”. It sounded like solace. So, ok, let’s face it. You ARE being left behind in this race of marriage. Sure, why not? Might as well stare fate in the eyes. What if you could take advantage of being left behind? How about doing things that your married friends can’t typically do — take a course, masters degree, splurge on clothes, spend on vacations. You’ll catch up soon in some dimension or the other.

3. Rethink your assumptions

Catch assumptions you’ve made like “Girls in the US will be career-oriented, so I want a girl from India”, “Girl from gym class won’t make a good wife”, “Girl working at Google won’t move back to India”. No no no no. I’ve seen all social contradictions — my desi female friend with flaming red hair and tattoo’s, does pooja everyday and doesn’t drink! Don’t assume.

4. Relax your criteria

I’m not saying date a Russian, though that’s not a bad idea honestly. Just relax on the language criteria. If you’re still stuck on particulars like “Kannadiga only”, try to move from analysing a resume to analysing a human.

5. Break boring dating patterns

Annoyed with spending $10 on coffee every time? Try a trekking date. It’s free, and if you like her you can spend that $10 on her.

6. Age 30 isn’t about misery

Are you freaking out about being married before 30? In desi culture, 30 is a milestone to get married before. After that you are banished to sit in the 30+ museum. Check if you’re freaking out because your friends are “moving on”. If all your friends were 30 and single, you might be ok. 30 is a great age, and approach and cross it with dignity and gracefulness, instead of downing yourself with Maggie & Cricket because you’re 29 and there’s no girl in sight.

Meanwhile, married people are saying “You’re better off single”. Ridiculous. It’s like a billionaire telling us “It’s better off staying middle class”. Let’s accept being married has advantages — what these married people are actually saying is, If you fall for the family, peer, and 30+ pressure, you will ignore red flags, and that my friend, will be the biggest regret of your life.

Cheer on!