A dear friend of mine, who wishes to remain anonymous, has written the following article – her views on arranged marriage based on her personal experience. I could relate to it completely. Hope everybody enjoys reading!
AM Dating – Arranged marriage dating, is of late a fad among many Indian youths! The arranged marriage system is what makes Indian culture and tradition so unique. Over the years it has changed a lot and now it has become more westernized with the element of so called ‘dating’ being involved.
The word dating has a whole lot of connotations, construed differently by different individuals. This article is not women centric and its purpose is not to malign individuals of a particular nature. The reason I have written this article is to share my musings on this topic of arranged marriage dating as a person in the market myself.
My main source of inspiration has come from the guys I have encountered in this process and also from men and women who have faced similar characters and situations. My intention is not to find my better-half through this blog, but it will be a pleasant surprise if that happens! This article is for both men and women out there, who are seeking their soulmates.
From a high-level, the process of arranged union today, from a middle to upper middle class perspective can be described as follows:
Step 1: Registering on a matrimony site
There are many sites to choose from, the top ones being Bharat matrimony, Shadi.com, community matrimonials etc, counterparts of western sites e-harmony.com and match.com. But the principles of western dating are not applicable to Indian arranged dating. There is parental involvement and pressure, time factor to take ‘the decision’, horoscope-matching, auspicious timing for every milestone of the relationship, virtual reality of the game, the perception of the thin border between narrow and broad mindedness and various other limitations.
Step 2: Liking profiles and photos of suitors and matching horoscopes
The market has a lot to choose from. I call it the market, because choosing a spouse with certain attributes can be likened to choosing a car or a dress with X, Y, Z features for an occasion, except that the occasion is lifetime. The more the choices the more is the laid-back nature of the shopper as he/she may feel if it is not this one, there will be someone else. These choices unfortunately get limited by horoscope mismatches. Different astrologers and astrology software provide different matching criteria and results so the best matching case for me may end up being the worst for my prospect!
If I like Mr. X and he likes me and if both our astrologers give us the green signal, we move onto the next step that is dating! Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, blogs and other websites are great stalking tools that talk volumes about a prospect, something which even phone conversations that last for hours cannot provide. Birds of a feather flock together, so a prospect can be judged through his friends, family and relatives.
Step 3: Phone and other virtual modes of dating — the biggest flaw of our system!
Telephone is technologically the most useful device and I am grateful to Mr Alexander Graham Bell for inventing it! Phone connects and brings people miles apart together. This phrase has got stuck in our sub-conscious minds to such an extent that we try to achieve everything over the phone!
Mr. X, I who I AM dated on the phone sometime back, said he felt awesome chemistry with many girls over the phone. Then why didn’t he end up with one of them? Why is he even considering me? I secretly thought. He went on to say that he is wired to sense chemistry and compatibility over the phone even before meeting me. They say some men are pillars, others caterpillars. Mr. X was indeed a pillar and a caterpillar. Pillar, because he had most of the attributes I was looking for. Maybe he was a pillar too high to mount! A caterpillar, because he was way too slow in his approach and communicated just over the telephone, his favorite method. He was just not ready and did not feel comfortable to meet me or even Skype with me despite conversing for several months. He wanted it all on the phone. Alas! We parted ways!
Dating Mr. Y on Skype showed me our wavelength mismatches. Atleast Skype showed me that this would not work, which proved to be much better than talking to a faceless someone on the phone for an eternity! It might have worked had we met. But Alas! We parted ways!
I met Mr. Z who seemed fine over the phone, but we did not have any attraction but infact had repulsion and arguments over the meeting! He was not the guy which his profile spoke of and he was not the guy who he seemed to be on the phone and Skype. Atleast he was the bravest of them all as he had the courage to come out of the tele-world and meet me! But again! We parted ways! There were others too who did not cross significant milestones.
Step 4: If all goes well meet up, court and marry!
This is the best part- meeting a few times, getting engaged, courting for few months and finally tying the knots! After the ‘yes’ comes in, days fly by so fast making arrangements and preparations for the wedding.
My take 1. Arranged marriages are not for losers!
‘Shudh desi romance’, is a film which portrays the modern day Indian way of thinking about marriage and relationships. The hero in this film gets marriage jitters and runs away from his AM and opts for a live-in relationship. Such films which portray AM as terrifying must be slammed. AM should not be portrayed in this limelight. Many feel that it is for losers who failed to attract the cool ones out there! Nowadays there is less of the element ‘arranged’ in our weddings. It is more about choosing a partner you think you may fall for one day. This does not mean I am anti-live-in. This just means that I, despite the fact that I am a modern independent woman, prefer getting hitched the arranged way.
Education, work and being in the US has made me independent. The reason I am going in for AM is not because I am a sucker who did not find love, but because I consider it as a fun-filled challenge of getting to know an unknown someone from scratch, committing to each other and falling in love later.
It is an ordeal mainly for parents who go through tons of profiles, get them shortlisted though horoscope and various criteria set by us, the AM daters! It doesn’t end there, this is the beginning of talking endlessly to prospects, one after another, saying goodbye to a few, saying hi to the new till we get the proof that we have indeed found our soulmates!
My take 2. It just happens? Make it happen!
Love is not a fantasy. Sayings like ‘A goddess does not hunt for Mr Right, she attracts him’ and ‘Do not seek love, it will find you when you least expect it’, just do not seem to work much in the world of long distance and virtual dating. Prospects need to make a deliberate attempt to know one another, respect differences and overlook flaws. Getting involved and being vulnerable require courage and are not to be looked down upon. Vulnerability is the test that filters the worthy ones from the ones not worth fighting for. Pestering from parents is a major force which either pays off or snaps the so-called budding relationship.
Unless we live continents apart, then we can consider reaching to each other’s hearts through video chats before meeting but not through just phone. Only shallow conversations about day-to-day life, likes and dislikes, hobbies and general world topics can be had on the phone.
The game must move onto the real world ASAP! Live-dates provide the much needed level of comfort and pave the way for attraction, a broader context and deep conversations which can be subsequently had on the phone. Chemistry and compatibility which are proportional to physics are results of attraction. Both, physics and chemistry are essential for creating and sustaining the ‘spark’.
My take 3. Not interested in arranged marriage? Well, don’t register!
A humble request to daters out there – If you are not ready for marriage please stop the process right away! Delete yourselves from the matrimony sites. Shopping for the perfect match does not work when you are not a 100% into it. Do not do it for your parents or because people around you are getting hitched. Wasting time by shopping and trying out a list of people and giving false hopes and expectations is the most immature and uncultured thing of today. Don’t keep people guessing as well. If you do not feel a match would work in the long run, pull the plug on it as soon as such a thought hits you, preferably in the initial stages itself, rather than experimenting for ages.
If you want to be modern, date in-person, like in the west. Do not complicate matters by trying to achieve chemistry, compatibility and a lot more on the phone. A person who is scared to meet up, get involved or reluctant to reveal his countenance on video-chat, is simply not worth wasting time over. Slow, laid back individuals who take no responsibility or make no attempts to make it work must be avoided too. There is always a ‘next please’ in this game! As per Dante’s Divne Comedy, To reach Paradise, one goes through Inferno. Similarly the AM dater goes through many toads and ‘just-friends’ to get to her prince charming or to the princess of his dreams!