Women in the 21st century are smart and successful but they are faced with a dating conundrum—not enough men get what they want. The reason, according to Sangeeta Wadhwani, author and lifestyle magazine editor, there’s a “21st century GAP felt by many dynamic career women operating in our social environment—this nagging feeling that they should be meeting men with far more impactful minds, men who are far more individualistic, driven by their own visions, not by their inheritance. Sadly, we are in a society where men’s chief criteria for a life partner is that she be pale of skin, unobtrusive and not ‘too’ ambitious, just functional enough to supplement the family income till she has a baby. And since their parents often pick and choose their Missus, my favourite line to describe them are, “men who don’t really participate in their own lives”.”
It is this “gap” that she focuses on in her latest book Mind The Gap. Filled with real life experiences of high-achieving career women from different walks of life, Sangeeta packs in a lot of information and valuable tips for men looking to date such women. In an interview, she lets us in onto her experience of putting the book together, her observations on the current dating scene and also offers some useful dating tips to all the bold, free-spirited women out there.
Cosmo: There are real life instances in the book, how difficult was it to get the women to confess about their dating experience?
Sangeeta Wadhwani: “That’s a great place to start… the irony is, the stories were pouring in whenever my female friends and I would get together at leisurely dinners, or catching up over weekend brunches. As a magazine editor I have led a pretty varied social life filled with events of every scale and shape, which afforded me a chance to cast my story-gathering net far and wide. One emerging picture that stuck, was that of so many accomplished, empowered, glamourous, self-motivated single women (and divorced women); many seeking a fulfilling partnership, but who had chosen to remain unpartnered because they were not willing to compromise. Mind The Gap simply circled back to them, offering them a space to share what they felt–and being friends, they were quite forthcoming about the hits and misses in their dating lives.”
Cosmo: During your research what instances stayed on with you?
SW: “I realised that gender equations present unique challenges today. I had to be honest and look at this picture from the male point of view as well; and talking to my male friends showed me how some women are seeking to have their cake and eat it too! One guy friend shared how a girl he took to the CCI club on a date, told him he wasn’t a suitable long term candidate for life partner because her father was already a member of the CCI. It would make more sense for her to date someone with membership to the Bombay Gym or Breach Candy club! It taught me to step outside my own narrow window of perception and see how even some so-called ‘evolved’ single women carry patriarchal notions deep in their unconscious where they don’t just want a provider in a man, but a lifestyle upgrade!
Cosmo: How much of your real life influenced your writing in this book?
SW: “The joke is my cousins see me as this Aparna Shewakramani (of Indian Matchmaking fame) prototype – just never satisfied with the guys I meet! But the interesting journey with this book was, that me and a host of ‘never satisfied’ single career women are victims of a syndrome called ‘hypergamy’. It’s a concept unique to our times where accomplished women have raised their partnership criteria several notches higher–we want a man who has more of what we have–be it connections, status, motivation, achievements. But here’s the irony–men place value on more surface things like youth and beauty. So the longer the women wait, seeking their Mr Rights, the less likely any Mr is going to be considering them Ms Right. This is the GAP the book is touching upon. Quite a few incidents here are from my own experience—the only thing is, the issues we are up against are universal. Indian women want more honesty, more depth and more progressive-minded men who stimulate their grey cells and are not just extensions of their families. So somewhere, it would help if both the sexes revise their quest a bit. The girls (and I) both have found guys outside the paradigm of our cities and our cutlure, to be far nicer to be around—they play less mind games, they call casual love what it is, and do not waste their time with ambiguities. In India the joke is, you will always find an MBA (Married But Available) man because our core ethics are so poor.”
Cosmo: What advice would you want to give successful women out there looking for a potential date?
SW: “I don’t think I am sitting in a position of expertise–just a genuine observer. But one thing I did outline in my book–don’t throw yourself into a man’s bed as some sort of barter against a fancy meal out – especially if you want to pursue a long term relationship. If a woman enters a relationship as a commodity in a barter–she will be perceived that way and treated that way. For a confident, financially independent lady, I would say cast your net wide and be a dogged optimist. A 100 frogs may come before the Prince, but stay with your mission, be it on Bumble, TrulyMadly, etc. Also, since Indian men are too chicken to tell you what they are really looking for, just be direct and ask them whether they want a hook up or are seeking a relationship. Trust me, it will save a woman time and unnecessary heartache.”
Cosmo: One advice for men in the current dating arena?
SW: “I would ask men to read Mind the Gap! It’s all there–the need to be honest about your intentions, how to make a woman/date comfortable with your physical presence, how to feed your mind so that you can feed a conversation elegantly, how to mind your Ps and Qs online and not ‘over-pursue’ a lady and put her off with constant messaging and question marks. I also think the biggest mistake Indian men make is responding only to a woman’s appearance online, and not going beyond that and responding to the content she is putting out there. There’s tons of things men can chew on, if they read my book!”