We start off with unrealistically high expectations. Actually, more than that. Thanks to Bollywood, we start off with daydreaming about romance. We expect to fall in love.

As each year passes, those unfulfilled expectations shrink more and more. “So what if he has a receding hairline? He’s a good person. So what if he doesn’t have a Masters degree, he works hard. So what if he doesn’t have a beard, at least he prays five times a day.” At which point love becomes nothing more than a myth – a lie young people indulge in.

But think about it for a minute. You want company. You want a soulmate. Yes, that’s fine. It’s natural. But do you think you’ll get the kind of company you want if you marry someone you don’t have any chemistry with and that doesn’t give you the love you crave? All you’ll end up with, by “settling”, is a piece of high-maintenance furniture. A fancy vegetable, if you will. You’ll have a grand wedding, you’ll become a Mrs, sure… but there will be no “happily every after”. Nobody wants to wake up the next morning and feel as if they’ve made the wrongest decision of their life. I might not have the experience, but I truly believe that you’re better off alone than with someone that makes your life even more complicated.

Having said that, we still should not have unrealistically high expectations. As much as it pains me to say this, being a lit grad student and aspiring fiction author, we have to be able to differ between fiction and reality. We can’t base our assumptions of love and marriage on fiction that didn’t base their plotlines on our lifestyles.

So what are realistic expectations then? Well, to begin with, never expect anything you cannot fulfill yourself. If you’re short, don’t expect tall; if you only have a Bachelors, don’t expect a Masters graduate; if you’re overweight, don’t expect someone slim; if you don’t have a beard, don’t expect a hijabi. All of this, regardless of gender. No, it’s not okay for you to be a four feet tall girl and expect a seven feet tall guy, even if you tell yourself that short girls are cute.

Secondly, instead of focusing on what you want, focus on what you have to give. What are you? What can you provide your future spouse with? Try to look at yourself as a potential and focus on what type of person you come across as.

And if you want love, you have to do that as well. Nowadays, we’re all too obsessed with ourselves, absorbed in ourselves. We share constantly on social media, we want constant attention. We want to feed our own egos. That’s what it’s all about. We want to be listened to, many times without listening ourselves.

What is it with Bollywood that draws us? Think about it… those love stories are always about one person (usually the guy) investing themselves in another person (usually the girl). His life is about getting her. The girl is in focus, the guy’s attention of the girl is in focus. But do we do that in real life? Do we do that today? Most likely, the guy would be too busy admiring himself in his selfies.

Guy or girl doesn’t matter by the way; whatever you are, you should try to invest your interest in the person you want. Learn about him/her, try to learn about their hobbies/interests. Ask questions. If you really like the person, you should naturally feel curious about them. Why do we sometimes resort to stalking anyway? Because we’re curious. And if that person turns out to be someone that is loving the attention but not giving you any back, then that’s a red flag for you. Attention should be given and received in equal measure. If s/he never asks you anything about you, it means that s/he is not liking you, s/he’s only liking the attention you give him/her.