Date faux pas (for men)
One of the perks of being Marriage Broker Auntie is that I stay abreast with all the social faux pas in the marriage market. I get lots of dope on arranged marriage dates and pre-date conversations, that are both amusing and insightful. One thing I have realised is that irrespective of age, religion, caste, education, etc, there are a few common faux pas in arranged marriage dates off late. As a dutiful auntie, I thought I should list them down for the benefit of those yet to massacre their own dates. I will do this in two parts – One for men and another for women.
Here’s my list of top ten faux pas by men in the market –
1. Talking about work
Unless you have a start up and the woman is a VC you’ll never get a meeting with if it weren’t for this date, DO NOT talk about work. It’s just really boring and you’ll either come across as a brag or a whine depending on whether you have good or bad things to say, besides seeming really one dimensional. And going onsite/offsite is also considered work talk and does not qualify as “travel” talk.
This is a common complaint I hear from most women. Men do most of their shortlisting pre-date and hence think of the actual date as a sales pitch. They don’t bother trying to learn about the woman since they think she is anyway going to do most of the compromising bit (pun intended) post marriage anyway. But guess what, women like to be heard too, and you will learn this the hard way after you get married, if you ever do. *grin*
3. “What else?” type conversations
The most common phrases exchanged in the days leading upto a date (chances of which are bleak after this) are “What did you have for dinner?” “How was your weekend?” “How was your day?” “What else?”. Honestly, how do you care what the woman ate for dinner unless this is some sly way of knowing if the girl knows how to cook?! This is the sort of conversation women like to have with the beauty parlour lady, not a potential spouse. Besides, there is the rest of your married life to have such mundane conversations anyway! If you need help on how to spice up your conversations, I recommend that you check out what popular behavioural economics professor, Dan Ariely has to say about this.
4. Forward messages as conversation starters
People receive good morning forwards from old relatives, random colleagues you once worked on a project with and creeps. The normal response protocol is usually not to respond. If you thought such forwards could be conversation starters, BAD idea! Also, if you are a budding poet/ stand up comedian/ dude with a Facebook photography page, send the girl a link once, but she doesn’t need an update on every poem or photo you have up there. Relax!
5. Failing to make real date plans
Chatting on WhatsApp or Telegram is a means to an end but not an end in itself. So, save yourself and the lady some transaction cost, grow up and suggest meeting up. While I always encourage people to take the lead on organising the date, be mindful/ flexible about the other person’s convenience as well, but not to an extent where you ask them to decide everything and you just show up like the chief guest.
6. Showing off your terrible fashion sense
If you thought only men cared about looks in a woman, you are wrong. Women care too. Surely, it’s not top of their list but it’s third on their list (based on results from a survey conducted across India by a popular dating app in India). How you turn up for a date says 3 things – how interested you are in meeting this woman, how desirable you are to the opposite gender (aka market value) and another big one, your taste and lifestyle (both, because there is a big difference wearing Diesel and Deisel!).
7. Diving into interview mode
Given our social construct, women usually move in with the guy after marriage if not with the guy’s family and hence, men treat arranged marriage dates as fit interviews and ask them very specific logistical questions. Women on the other hand, want even an arranged marriage date to seem like a scene from DDLJ (if that doesn’t happen, there’s always some random Facebook candid photographer who can take care of that in the pre-wedding photoshoot) and so they are not pragmatic enough to see the value in these fit interviews. So, they find this format stifling and unattractive.
8. Your mother will talk to her later
The latest epidemic in the marriage market is men asking women how religious they are and their willingness to participate in religious ceremonies and celebrations of festivals. I should have probably put this one on top as the #1 faux pas because these are men who belong to a cult inspired by Ramesh Arvind in the 90s Kannada movie “Thuttha Muttha” trying to play monkey between the mother and the wife and hence, filtering for an ideal daughter in law rather than looking for an ideal partner. Evaluating for fit with family is important but this is optimising a little too much and so, I only have one thing to say – worry about yourself, your mother will talk to her later.
9. Going dutch on a date
Women surely want men who are feminist, but if a guy by any crazy chance suggests going dutch on the date, they may not mind paying but in return, they’ll judge you for sure. Double standards you think? Yes, that’s right. We are like that only.
10. Never ask a woman how she plans to manage work and home after marriage
All women are feminist, and more so on an arranged marriage date. So, don’t you dare ask them questions that you men don’t expect to be asked just because you are men. Running a home of two different individuals is as new to a woman as it is to a man. As husband and wife, you will have to figure this one out post marriage anyway and even if you are curious to know if this woman is going to be an equal partner, there’s surely a better way to find out instead of sounding like a tacky recruiter.