Dating through tough times
In a few weeks, we’ll be walking down the aisle to get married and we’ve just put down the deposit for a wonderful house with a garden. And as I sit here and dream suburbia dreams, I cannot help but reflect on the journey that we’ve been on so far and I want to capture these little moments in time.
“As both a student of history and a man devoted to living in the present, I admit that I do not spend a lot of time imagining how things might otherwise have been. But I do like to think there is a difference between being resigned to a situation and reconciled to it.” — A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles
Online dating works
Tarang and I met online, on an app called ‘The League’. It’s an invite-only app and I liked it as you only get 3 matches per day, so it forces you to increase the aperture and don’t just go for looks (yes, guilty). I’ve been on hundreds of dates over the years, I wouldn’t say it was different with Tarang on date #1, but what was different, was how he handled himself in the first few weeks. There was a genuine honesty from the start. There was always texting back. Appointments were made and kept. He called. He was open and reliable. He told me pretty quickly he liked me and everything just fell into place from there. I was 33 when we met. I did not think that it was going to happen for me in this way. But it did.
So for all the single ladies out there, I believe there are hundreds of wonderful partners, that you just need to meet. You need to be open and give men a chance. Don’t bring your past screw-ups into the first, second (or third) meeting! Both Tarang and I had been in very difficult relationships before where we’ve both suffered different degrees of physical and mental abuse. Despite this, we turned to the other person and listened instead of turning away.
Decide if you’re in it to win it.
A few weeks into our dating bliss, Tarang’s past began to catch up with him. A court case that his ex-wife had instigated against him began to heat up and he had to deal with the loss of his beloved job and a potential criminal conviction that — at worst — could include time behind bars. This was quite a bombshell to drop on someone that early on. Tarang was wonderful. He continuously gave me ‘an out’. Saying he’ll understand if this is too much for me and emphasising that he’d understand if I’d rather step away and we could rekindle things when he’s through on the other side. However, my parents instilled in me that you stay by your person’s side. No matter what. On one of our dates, I looked him in the eye and asked: “If this would be me, would you stand by me?” And he wholeheartedly said yes. No more questions asked and we walked hand in hand into the storm!
Hang in there, but set boundaries
We got unlucky and the worst actually happened. Tarang got convicted of a law designed to stop insidious forms of domestic abuse including ‘controlling behaviour’. Sadly, the law is very poorly worded, open to fraud and the decks were stacked against him, as a man, and being of a certain colour. (This argument was part of his appeal). I stood by his side, in court, and helplessly watched the prejudices of an ill-administered system, both gender-based and race-based, unravel slowly and painfully. The system sadly does not make room for complex domestic situations, where men can be as much victims as perpetrators. In any case, for us this spelt disaster as Tarang had to await his appeal behind bars, lost his career and a great deal of his belief in humanity, the British justice system and himself. We both hung in there though and promised each other to stay strong for ourselves and for his parents, who suffered a great deal. Tarang also encouraged me to live my life — and not neglect my career, my MBA and my friends. We kept our spirits up by writing letters to each other. Every day. We wrote more than 400 letters in total. We wrote about faith, family, books, the mundane and our grand plans for the future.
“Tough times don’t last. Tough people do” — Floyd Mayweather
Be prepared to be positively surprised
What seemed like a lifetime-long five months later, his appeal was finally heard at high court, and while the overhauling of his sentence set legal precedent, the damage had been done, as far as he was concerned. For me, just having him back with me was a big win.
It’s been a year and a half since then, we’ve made it through Covid-related lockdowns, my grandmother’s passing, his grandfather’s passing, a big change in career for me, him starting his own business, and a million other changes. Through all this, we have loved every moment of every day with each other. After a year filled with a great deal of anxiety and sadness, but also so much happiness, we decided to get married. I mean, it was quite clear that this is where it’s heading, but it still amazes me, what we’ve gone through and how it’s paid off. The trust, love and support we have in each other is rock solid. We know each other inside out — there are no secrets left, which pleases us enormously.