Pivoting to advisory
The diagram above represents a typical decision making unit in Indian arranged marriages. In most of the western world, you’d only be concerned about maximising the region “A”. In India, we like to maximise A, B and C in the reverse order of priority.
While matchmaking sites like Shaadi, Matrimony, etc. focus on B and C, dating apps like Tinder, Bumble, etc focus on A. But there’s no player that tries to maximise all 3 regions. Quite frankly, it’s very hard to do this. Fortunately or unfortunately, there’s a market here.
It doesn’t matter if you’re western educated, a lot of people in India still outsource the task of filtering to their parents. This includes even people who previously chose their own lovers but failed to turn them into spouses. When you trust someone with a responsibility, it is only fair that they enjoy some rights too. Naturally, parents feel free to include their own filters like sub-sub-sub caste, horoscope matching, status matching, property assessment and what not.
I am not a complete non-believer in horoscope, but I would never make a big life decision based on it. In India, I am in the minority. So, I have been tolerant of people’s need to use horoscope matching to feel more confident in their judgements. Recently, I painstakingly made a match by maximising AXBXC and also went to the extent of “matching horoscopes” myself. When I finally presented the potential client (a parent in this case) with the proposal, they rejected it in an instant. They bluntly said, “horoscope doesn’t match”. I knew it did, but I didn’t say anything.
At first, I felt angry with the parent for being shallow. Then, I felt angry with myself for working with this person. I felt angry for running a horoscope match. I felt angry for accepting their blunt response without a fair rebuttal. I felt angry at myself for not even being myself. The truth is, there’s no formula to making matches work. Matches fail very often, and that’s something I am used to as a matchmaker.
For three years, I have tried my very best to maximise AXBXC with a bias towards matching the personalities of the bride and groom. I have enjoyed setting up people who have trusted my instincts and have been open to getting to know their matches just because they came recommended by me. But more often than not, I find myself courting parents because they’re over 50% of the market.
Most parents never give me a chance to match based on personalities because they struggle to see beyond caste or horoscope. They don’t need a human matchmaker for that, and I, as a matchmaker can’t add value to their lives. What makes this industry so fascinating and complex is that it is full of irrational people (brides and grooms) whose behaviour cannot be codified in 1s and 0s, at least not yet. This is precisely where a human mediator can add value.
This incident, among many others, has now changed what I do at Marriage Broker Auntie irreversibly.
For starters, I have stopped doing business with parents even if it means I address only a part of this market. I am happy for parents to introduce me to their wards and exit stage, but I will not indulge them. Also, I am pivoting to matrimonial advisory full time as this will allow me to embrace greater diversity with grace, and more irrationality without compromising my own integrity