Ask The Therapist: “I have been in toxic relationships one after another and now I am so scared to invest my emotions in anyone…I have rejected 40 proposals till now…”

In 2016, the number of people estimated to be suffering from mental health issues like depression and anxiety amounted to roughly 1.1 billion. Since then, numbers have likely continued to rise. Moreover, studies have also shown women especially on average are a) more likely to suffer from mental health issues, and b) less likely to talk about them. The taboo in Pakistan surrounding depression and anxiety disorders only serve to aggravate the individuals suffering even more. For the women who cannot seek out full time therapy, we’ve enlisted the help of a trained therapist. You sent us in your questions – here are the answers!

“I’m a 27-year-old girl, and I went through an episode of depression last year. I have been in 3 toxic relationships, one after another and now I am so scared to invest my emotions in anyone. During all these years I have fallen in love with myself so much that now I don’t like any proposal even coming from my parents. I feel like I should not settle for anything less than what I deserve, but at the same time the pressure of marriage is stressing me out. I have rejected 40 proposals till now. Please help me – what do I do?”

Shahrukh’s Response:

Dear Anon,

I’m so sorry you had to go through such a hard time last year! Being in toxic relationships can be so painful, and can often have an impact on future relationships and attachments. Each person responds differently and in your case, as you said, you are too scared to invest your emotions in anyone. It also seems like in the aftermath of those relationships, you were also able to foster a relationship with yourself, one where you truly value yourself, and that is incredible! I know the pressure of getting married can be quite stressful, especially when you’re in your 20’s, so let’s explore what might be going on for you, and then perhaps you’ll have a clearer idea of how you would like to move forward.

The Pressure Of Pakistani Proposals

Being a female in your twenties, I can truly understand what kind of pressure you must be facing in terms of getting married. There’s this idea that women must be married before 30, or (a) they won’t find a man (which is not true) (b) they won’t be able to have children (which is, again, not true**) (c) log kya kehen gay and so on. While all these reasons exist as external pressures that a lot of people eventually give into, I want you to put those aside for a minute and ask yourself: what do YOU want? Would you like to get married? Do you feel ready?

Marriage in Pakistan, much like everything else, feels like it needs to be done at a certain time. The truth is, does it really need to be done just because others expect you to? What would YOU like your future to look like? As a society, we are taught to look outwards, rather than inwards. In other words: the opinions of others serve to validate and inform our experiences and decisions. As a result, we often neglect our own needs and desires. Anon, I invite you to explore for yourself as to what you would want your future to look like?

** Though I do concede that it does get slightly challenging after a certain point, but it is still very possible to have kids after 30.

How To Explore Further

In terms of your own reflection and exploration, Anon, I would really encourage you to take the time out to understand and acknowledge what you want. Some questions you can start with are:

  • How do I feel about marriage?
  • What are some of the reasons I’m considering marriage?
  • What are some of the reasons I’m considering putting off marriage?
  • How do I know if I’m ready/not ready for marriage?
  • What were the reasons I rejected those proposals?
  • What can I explore in terms of my relationship with attachment and commitment?
  • If I were to get married, what would I want that relationship to look like? What qualities am I looking for in a person?

A gentle reminder to you, Anon: marriage is about you, your life and it’s a decision that can also lead to a great deal of change and shifts. I genuinely believe that each person has their own timeline for all life events, and have the right to choose their path according to what they desire. Give yourself the space to really sit with what you would like for yourself.

If you would like to explore this further, you can always seek out the counsel of someone you know and trust (i.e. a family member, a close friend), someone who will be able to hold space for you and your thoughts and feelings about this situation. If not, you can always opt to explore these issues with a therapist/counsellor. A trained therapist would be able to hold space for your thoughts and allow you to express yourself in a space that is safe and free of judgement.

Anon, at the end of the day, the decision of whether or not you want to get married, or how you would like to move forward, is up to you. While I cannot tell you what to do, I can tell you that you have a choice, and it is yours to make. There is no right or wrong here, and what matters is what you feel, and what you want. Take your time to explore and understand, and when you’re ready to, you’ll know the best course of action to take. I really hope that you find the clarity and answers that you’re looking for, Anon. Know that those answers are within you, just remember to keep looking inwards and trust your feelings. I wish you all the best on your journey! Good luck and stay in your power!

The above article is written by Shahrukh Shahbaz Malik who is trained in humanistic integrative counselling at CPDD in the UK and currently has her own private practice in Karachi. The views expressed in this article are those of one expert. They do not necessarily represent the views of Mashion, nor do they represent the complete picture of the topic at hand. This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *