The Onion Indian: Notes from an Indian Matchmaker

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Disclaimer: The thoughts below are our own, and you may not agree with us. Hell, we may not agree with our own thoughts a few months down the line. These are just some of the observations we make to help us get some clarity about relationships in India. So, we can just agree to disagree.

 

We’ve taken a break from writing, and instead have been speaking to a lot of people lately – both married and those who are single (well obviously, that’s our business). But this time around, we’ve been very curious if the fundamentals of a relationship are different in India as opposed to the west. Is love the absolute fundamental lynchpin that keeps two people together in this country? We could not have been more wrong. Allow us to explain some of the things that we have been noticing over the past few years. Now we don’t mean to offend anyone, and you could be the exact opposite of what we’ve described below. We are obviously generalizing to understand the differences in relationships in this country, and we have no doubt that the land of Bollywood and romance, is very different when it plays out in our own personal lives (and this is perhaps why Bollywood is so popular here, because they’re selling a dream that most just aspire for):

 

Fundamental Differences:

The process of finding someone takes a backseat for most of the men & women in this country. Both genders tend to play the field for as long as they can (welcome to Tinder), while knowing that if they can’t find someone on their own, their parents will set them up. Unless of course you’ve hit the magical mid-30’s threshold figure in this country, after which the parents tend to give up too. Fundamental difference #1.

The economic differences between men and women in this country is striking. Men have been groomed to study, work, make money, repeat from a very young age in this country. For most women, making money has never been the prime objective. Both men and women have been brought up around people who are exemplary of these differences. So, the cycle continues. Obviously, this is changing now, but you can’t change generations overnight. Fundamental difference #2.

The diversity of this country is holding us back. North-Indians and South-Indians, we have realized, are fundamentally different people. No matter their educational background, upbringing, exposure – the language they think is very different. Their values and their thought-process are very different. They could’ve grown up in the same hood, gone to the same schools, worked the same jobs, but both are just very different people. Fundamental difference #3.

Social classes add to the overly complex society that we live in. The entire middle class of this country is like a big onion. If you start peeling the onion, you tend to understand the nuance differences in lifestyle, the class segregations, the sense of humor, the values, and almost everything except that they are Indian. Fundamental difference #4.

Men tend to choose men as their brothers, and their best friends. This bond is so strong (as opposed to the west where these bonds don’t exist in most urban cities) and from a very young age, that most men don’t tend to confide (or have this strong friendship) with women. Perhaps it’s because they don’t feel the need to. While in the west, men & women tend to become very good friends in their relationships, this is somewhat lacking in India. Just to clarify, we don’t think men and women can be just friends. Sooner or later one of them is bound to fall for the other. This is the rule of nature. Fundamental difference #5.

 

Relationships in the past few decades:

If we had to discount the past 5-10 years, and if we were to look at relationships from a decade before (and from a few decades before that), we’ve been seeing some very peculiar differences in Indian relationships from those that are culminating today:

Men tend to marry women that their parents choose for them. In most cases it’s the mother choosing a bride, or a father choosing a groom. But the mother is choosing a bride that can fill the role of a mother, a daughter-in-law and that of a wife. The father is choosing someone who can provide the best lifestyle for their daughters. Fundamental repercussion #1: Chemistry, long-term compatibility, personality fit takes a back seat.

Because men are the primary care-givers in this country (most men), they have come to believe that this success, and their money, buys them looks. Most middle-class guys tend to marry someone who are a few notches (and in many cases, a lot of notches) above them when it comes to looks and physical attraction. Women tend to sell-out too. She’s been made to believe that choosing someone who will take care of them financially is of the utmost importance. After all, she wants a better life for her kids. Fundamental repercussion #2: Mutual attraction just takes a very different meaning here in this country. That money/security you want to marry for, ain’t gonna give you love and companionship, if that’s important to you.

We are a very community-focused country. A Marwari would prefer to marry a Marwari or a Baniya. This is funny, because speaking scientifically, the best kids come from a very diverse DNA pool. So if you really want a good set of kids, marry someone whose DNA is completely different from yours. Fundamental repercussion #3: Marrying someone of the same tribe is just so boring, right? Where is the adventure in that? Or the fun?

“A good family” – we never hear these words in the west. If you’re working in New York, and you meet a girl at the Starbucks, and you ask her out, go on a few dates, and perhaps even go to Disneyworld together. But we never ever wonder what family she comes from. Unless you’re an Ambani, why is everyone so concerned about “a good family”. What does it mean anyway? Fundamental repercussion #4: The family is vetted, and somehow, it’s this very process of vetting a family that often keeps two people together. They both “adjust”, without fully knowing what could’ve been. It’s good enough!

Look around you. Your parents, your older siblings, or your cousins, your aunts and uncles. Do you really see that close bond of friendship? 7 out of 10 times, we see that the kids are the ones who are keeping them together and all this while. Fundamental repercussion #5: Boys will be boys, and they need their boys to do boy-stuff with. Love transcends to kids, and the safety and well-being of the kids keeps us together!

 

Relationships in the next few decades:

We think there is no better life when you can find someone whom you can fall in love with. No matter how shitty your life is, and how stressful your job or your business is, being and falling in love with that special someone is really the purpose of our lives. We’ve been told time and again, that we’re being too idealistic, and we have started to realize that the ones who are telling us that are often the one who have made that compromise in their own lives. While we respect their decision, we think there is too much at stake here to sit down with a pen and paper, with two columns – pros and cons, and then choosing someone based on that.

Moreover with everything in life, from watching Friends when we were kids to following Hollywood movies/celebrities, and to eating out and partying, and becoming the quintessential American consumer, everything American is becoming everything Indian. And this is fundamentally changing relationships too!

Here is what we see with the younger kids today, 23 – 32:

Men and women are choosing to marry someone whom they have that chemistry with. Long term compatibility and personality fit becomes very important for the Tinder-savvy, LinkedIn power networking, being financially independent, generation today. Why? Because there they know that there are so many options out there. If they marry someone with whom they don’t share that rapport with, their partner is eventually going to look elsewhere for that rapport. Fundamental change #1: Infidelity (especially among men) is no longer socially-acceptable.

No longer are the men the sole care-givers. Women are starting to make their own moolah, and this has changed the balance of power in relationships. Fundamental change #2: Marriage among equals is the new norm.

Caste almost always takes a back-seat. While obviously there are fundamental differences between say a Hindu and a Muslim in this country, but compatibility tend to take prominence over caste/community. Fundamental change #3: We can expect better kids in the future with very separate DNA pools.

With so much data publicly available today – from your LinkedIn profiles, and your Facebook profiles, your educational and social backgrounds becomes very easy to verify/gauge. How you think, act and feel is also publicly available that is very easy to disseminate. A good family, has now become, a good person! And if you’re a good person, chances are that you come from a good family (and not the other way around) Fundamental change #4: Meeting the one has become easier!

Thanks to Tinder, men and women are starting to date from a very young age. This is extremely good for the country. Don’t let your parents tell you otherwise. Fundamental change #5: Dating early on, and getting comfortable with the opposite sex, allows us to understand ourselves, and to open up to our partners. If we can’t understand (or have any self-awareness), we are going to be terrible at relationships too!

 

So here’s to Love folks! Because that’s the very purpose of our lives. Because without that, we’re capitalist-groomed, money-hungry dogs, that will kill each other to be better, faster and stronger. And a very lonely world!

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With Love,

Team AWA

Rahul Singhania

Client Lead, AWA Plus