Can infidelity be nourishing?

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That’s an absurd title you’d think? But we understand very little of infidelity to be sure we don’t encounter it in our own lives and if it hasn’t happened to us, we usually hold the right to judge. The way we traditionally understand infidelity is when someone gets physically intimate with another individual of the opposite gender, who is other than their partner. Now there are several levels even within this age old definition of infidelity – one kiss, several kisses, one night stand, many night stands and so on. It can be argued based on convenience that one is less worse than the other but the truth is, its all bad enough or its all quite irrelevant in the larger scheme of things.

If your wife imagined making love to another man (or even woman) while making love to you, would that be adultery? If your husband sat next to you and enjoyed a text conversation with someone else while you longed for a conversation with him, would that be adultery? What if one of you thought a complete stranger in the mall was good looking, now, is that adultery? What if you were about to have a meeting with a new colleague someday and you spent some extra time dressing up to make a good first impression, would that be adultery? What if your recent searches on Facebook featured your exes because you had nothing better to do on a commute back home, would this be adultery?

Given that we have such a high bar for fidelity (almost making it an imaginary concept), I can tell you with reasonable confidence that we encounter infidelity in different forms in our own lives. It’s easy to let society dictate our reaction to infidelity because that’s how we have been conditioned. In the Mahabharata, Arjuna brings back Subadra from the time he is on an exile and Draupadi (who already has 4 other husbands) gets pissed off, but the story of how she feels about either Arjuna’s exploits with Chitrangada or Ulupi is not very famous. It’s our society’s way of setting boundaries on what’s acceptable and what is not – feel free to screw whoever but don’t bring them home and all will be well. But honestly, to each their own and I am going to tell you why it needn’t always mean that we are heading to doomsday.

We feel the need to step outside when we seek something that we don’t get from our existing relationships anymore. It’s not so much about the partner or the relationship itself, but it’s more to do with how we feel in it. When we don’t feel the way we used to feel when we first fell in love, in an attempt to get rid of this feeling of not being explicitly desired, we have this intense urge to turn back time to when we felt good about ourselves. We try to reconnect with our glorious past, we try to re-invent ourselves to be more interesting or just try all of this in our imagination, disconnecting ourselves from our realities, in turn straying from our present commitments. Our spirit doesn’t settle unless we see some hope for all glory being restored and no amount of sexy lingerie can change that.

Given that routine sets in contempt and this feeling is bound to consume all of us at some point at different levels, feeding this feeling with opportunities to make ourselves feel better could possibly be nourishing for us and our existing relationships. In an attempt to look sexy for someone else, you might make your spouse notice you. This might trigger some pleasantly unexpected reciprocation from your spouse and this could set things back on track. Or not. But that’s a chance you take because infidelity stems from a need to revive a dying spirit, that has the potential to be happier in any relationship, in or out.

If you find your partner cheating on you, at any level, give them time to come around, and may be even explain themselves because it doesn’t always mean your relationship is dying but it means your partner is trying hard to prevent his/ her spirit from dying.

Closures

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Have you had an ugly break up, left feeling stranded with a billion unanswered question and wanting just one cordial meeting with your ex to get some sort of a closure so you can move on? Have you drifted apart from a best friend without knowing why and wish you could talk just once to know what ever happened? While it seems naive to think that one meeting would set right everything that went wrong over time, it atleast acts as an alibi for us to let go and move on. It’s our way of having checked these people off our lists so we never think about them again.

Performing last rights at a funeral is also some sort of a closure, so you can move on with life without the person who just died. I’ve always tried my best to attend funerals of people I’ve even briefly known because it helps imprint a last memory of them in my mind. It allows me a chance to quietly reminisce all the good times with them and selectively preserve only the best memories with them. On a less morbid note, I wish we had funerals for the death of romantic relationships too, just so we could think fondly of even the ugly times in our lives.

I remember it took me so long to make peace with a broken relationship in the past since these things don’t actually have summary meetings or final presentations before they end where everyone can ask each other clarifying questions that leave you feeling satisfied. I had so many questions that I wanted answers for, or maybe I knew the answers but I was seeking validation? It took me years to realise that it didn’t matter if I had actually got that validation I was seeking because what I was struggling with was coming to terms with the fact that the relationship was over. I was tightly gripping my fists around something that was long gone. 

If love stories with abrupt endings leave us with that lingering feeling of wanting more , leading us to believe that we want something that we actually don’t, then having a closure definitely helps end relationships. I remember going back ever so often to question my feelings and decisions just because it hand’t been validated by the other person and so, it was entirely up to me to believe any side I wanted, irrespective of what the truth really was.

Over time, however, my memory started failing me and I couldn’t recollect enough evidence to side with the part of me that believed that I was still in love with my past. Along the way, there had been a lot of collateral damage and now sometimes wish I had found my closure before moving on with life. So my advice is, if you can’t find that closure with someone else, you better find it on your own. But remember, just because you or someone else didn’t write an ending, doesn’t mean your love story is still alive. But the truth is that your story has been abandoned, you won’t accept it and that’s why you continue to long for someone else to force an ending  on you. 

Are you prone to being ‘Kajol’ed?

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One of my friends met a girl on Coffee meets Bagel, who he later went out on a date with. He saw her as a potential romantic partner and so asked her out on a follow up date. She being the classic 30 something living independently, waiting for her parents to find her a prince charming, didn’t blow him off immediately. Instead, she decided to hook him onto the back of her truck and drag him along slowly on a bumpy road, just in case she doesn’t find anyone else. And of course, our man hangs on in hope, even though he knows he’s been so badly ‘Kajol’ed.
Remember the 90’s movie Kuch Kuch hota hai in which Kajol is majorly friend zoned  by Shahrukh Khan, who is busy romancing Rani Mukherjee? I know the movie makes us believe that the culprit was just Kajol’s hairstyle, but there’s more to it. Some of us are just prone to be more friend zoned than others and the reason is that we believe that friendship is the best route to a romantic relationship. Too many Bollywood movies have conditioned us to believe this, growing up. But the hard truth is, friendship and romantic relationships are usually diverging paths.
But why do we believe that friendship is the route to a romantic relationship? The most common reason is because we don’t listen despite being called a “great listener”. We don’t listen to the signs people give us when they aren’t romantically inclined. Just because they continue to talk to us or be remotely courteous to us, we sincerely believe they enjoy our company. Maybe it’s not just this, you probably even made out, occasionally sexted each other and continue to hang out IRL (in real life!), making you believe that this relationship is larger than what it is, but there’s a chance you are just a fuck buddy and you are not listening to the signs.
In fact, you could have confronted this person about the status of your relationship to which they gave you a vague answer and you’re hoping that by spending more time with them, this response would crystallise into something that you want, but hey, it ain’t gonna happen if it’s not meant to be. Even worse, they told you on your face that you are not a subject of their romantic interest but you live on in the hope that you can change their world, only because you just don’t listen. When we want people who don’t want us, we try to overcompensate by behaving in a manner that we’d want them to reciprocate.
We believe that this person is like us and would appreciate our availability (a little too much of it that too) but the more time we spend with them, the farther apart we grow.  Its a vicious While they might genuinely appreciate us as a friend but once we’ve been ‘Kajoled’, there’s no way to escape it. There’s probably a tiny voice in our heads that’s constantly telling us the same thing but we are so busy not listening, that the thought just gets squished. So, if you ever find yourself in this situation, take a train like Kajol and run because that’s the only way to deal with it.
At the grassroot level, the way to deal with this issue is to listen – either to the signs the other person gives you or even just to that little voice in your head that says run. Whether someone gives you some sign is not in your hands and so you might want to work on amplifying that little voice in your head that’s always trying to protect your interest. How do you do that? By loving yourself enough for someone else to love you too. Just spend 5 minutes in front of the mirror everyday and watch yourself, listen to yourself and connect with that person you see in front of you. Soon, you’ll fall in love and before you know it, you’ll never do a thing to displease them. I know it sounds creepy but try it. Its worked wonders for too many people I know!

What if?

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I am in the business of promising people that I would make them more marriage-ready through one-on-one coaching. While I try my best to keep up my end of the deal, there are some things in the world I cannot influence – supply of soulmates. Even if you are more marriageable at the end of three months, what if you never meet anyone you like? There’s a self selection in my clientele – people who are less inclined to settle, reach out to me for help and so convincing them to settle would seem like a measure of success. But should I?

The longer you are in the market, the more jaded you become. The strange thing though is that you end up lowering your bar while becoming more picky, so essentially you are stuck in this paradox unable to make a decision. When you find yourself in such a situation, you have got to start asking yourself what if you never find a partner and if you don’t have a good enough answer for that, I’d say your chances of finding a partner at all are slimmer than you think it was.

So, there is good single and bad single. Good single is when you are single and loving it because your life is so exciting and full of things to look forward to. Bad single is when you are single because you can’t get yourself to un-single – when all your energy is really just invested in finding yourself a partner. We live by this social checklist where we believe our twenties must be diligently dedicated to sourcing ourselves a partner without paying any heed to much else, in the process becoming very boring. This happens very slyly and we don’t even realise till its really late. 

Instead, if we spent our energies in just living – making our lives more interesting by pursuing our passions, we would be much more appealing and attract a far superior set of potential partners. This way, we won’t have to lower our bar while being picky. More importantly, our lives will be too awesome to be wasted looking for someone else to complete it. So, whether you are fresh or well into the market, ask yourself “what if” because its the only way you’ll manage to get someone better than you think you deserve!

Distinguishing between loves

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On my flight from Bangalore to London yesterday, I watched Woody Allen’s “The Cafe Society”, a 2016 romantic drama that has a chain of betrayed relationships – one man leaving his wife for another and then this one leaving for another and so on. Woody Allen’s movies are always about unrequited or in-satiated love and people love it because they can all relate to it at some level and it makes their one-sided loves worth loving.

The human spirit loves complex problems or challenges. We can never truly appreciate and cherish what we have. It is in our nature to want what we can’t get. Even my 5-month old daughter isn’t happy with just rolling over or crawling, she wants to stand up even though she can barely even sit by herself. So, chasing people who won’t love us back is like the ultimate life challenge. Even the Hindu mythology is all about it. The Ramayana is essentially about unrequited love of Ravana for Sita and the Mahabharata is that of Duryodhana’s for Draupadi or Amba’s for Bheeshma.

While literature, drama and media have glorified this sort of love over the years, the only thing left to do with “the discussing grocery lists” sort of love between a man and his wife is parody. Having discussed grocery lists with Karthik for over 6 years now, even though I don’t say it out loud every single day, I love it. I love it in a way that I could never love my crush from the 9th grade who I’d be dying to see everyday with such naive passion.

One presents volatility and uncertainty, while the other presents stability. Some people prefer indulging in self deprecation driven by irrational passion while some others value reciprocation of emotion.  Neither love is less than the other, it’s just different. Having seen different kinds of loves over the years, in hindsight, I’d anyway prefer the mellow “talk for hours about arbit things under the sky” till you fall asleep sort of love over the state of ambivalence an intense passionate affair leaves you in.

What if you have never experienced different kinds of loves? Do we then simply have to rely on Bollywood to meet our ever elusive loves on a Eurorail in Switzerland? Would you be able to tell what kind of love you’re looking for? I am sure my grandmother would have argued that it doesn’t matter, and we just have to make do with what we get. She’s damn right, but we’ve too much exposure nowadays to simply make peace with our loves without sampling. So, I say, go out there and sample, even if you are 45, because its never too late to fall in love and that’s the only way to distinguish between different loves.

Hobbies, habbits and hobbits

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In the past, women were made to sing or have their hobbies like tailoring/ crochet skills praised at the bride seeing ceremony because most of the time these women were going to be housewives and had to justify how they would spend time productively at home besides cooking and tending to the family. Today, both men and women work and their time at home after work is their own and nobody needs to justify what they do with it. However, people care about hobbies of a potential partner like never before.

There’s a good chance you might not relate to this post at all because this post is based on data gathered from my extended social circle. I have a friend who has been single for a while. He is a good looking, well educated, cultured, comes from a good family and pretty much checks off everything a great tharkari should, but is still single only because he is looking for a girl with a serious hobby. Simple enough, right? But you’ll be surprised to see how few people have hobbies as adults. The last time most people have hobbies is the first time they make a professional resume.

People with decent careers think they have their lives sorted and there is no reason for them to struggle in the marriage market, but they falter to even sustain another person’s attention because they are so one-dimensional. These people are exhausted after a hectic 5-day work week and the only way they know how to blow off some steam is by binge-watching sitcoms or drinking one’s gut out just because these are the easiest things to do. In fact, drinking is considered more of a “habit” in the marriage market (Lolz).

This is essentially a result of not knowing how to productively engage oneself in interesting activities. This leads to us looking for inspiration in a partner to make our lives more interesting putting unnecessary pressure on the relationship. This one time a girl rejected a boy with a very hectic creative career because she felt he wouldn’t have the time to spend with family. While this may or may not be true, someone assessing quality based on quantity of time  could potentially be a liability in the relationship.

If both the boy and girl have serious interests they pursue, this means minimising the time each of them spends alone wanting attention from the other, hence keeping expectations from the relationship at bay. Even at an individual level, they’d be more content with themselves allowing them to contribute positively to the relationship.

Now, there is a flip-side to having serious independent interests beyond work because you might have little chance of overlap in your lives to grow closer, but that’s a risk some people are willing to take because if they didn’t, they’d probably end up with someone who will neither let them be happy with themselves or in the relationship.

PG rated spouse hunting

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Despite pivoting from matchmaking to matrimonial advisory, I continue to get tonnes of calls everyday from some aunty or another about their son (not daughter, mind you!) who is in the market. I try to explain what I do but somewhere through the conversation, I just give up and tell them to ask their wards to get in touch.

The most common immediate reaction I get from these mothers is them thinking how absurd it is that I want to talk to their wards because after all parents know whats best for their children, right? As parents, some of us really have a tough time letting go. We are so used to double guessing what’s good or bad for them from the time they are infants that we refuse to see that figuring things out on their own is a part of growing up and living life itself.

Thanks to education and advent of feminism, daughters have made way for better parents who have learnt to strike a balance between holding on too tight and letting go. A lot more urban women choose their partners independently as compared to urban men, if the number of mothers who call me about their sons over daughters is any metric. Here are some of the most common reactions I get when I ask mothers to let me speak with their sons –

“I can tell you everything about him myself. “

“Oh my son is quite well mannered and shy, he hardly speaks to any other women apart from me, so I am not sure if he’ll open up to you.” (I independently learnt from the son that he had recently broken up with his girlfriend and wasn’t ready to get married yet. So much for being shy huh?)

“What do you want to speak to my son about? We can’t even see your photo on WhatsApp, so he is wondering why he should speak to you. Can’t you just find him a bride without talking to him? I have already told you what kind of a bride we want.”

“We only want a simple working girl who can support herself and also balance work at home without being too career driven. My son is too nice to tell you this himself.” (This was from a mother who claimed to be a feminist)

And saving the last one for the best –

“Nan maga antha helkothilla aadre yelladrallu munde idaane avnu. School time inda nu ashte, yelladrallu avne firstu. Avnu school drama nalli sugreevan part maadidda, tumba channaagi madidda. Yellru yesht claps hodidru gotta (I am not saying this because he is my son but he is good at everything. Since his school days, he has been the best at everything. In a school play, he played the part of “Sugreeva”, the monkey king and he was so good at it that everyone clapped a lot). ” 

All of this point to the fact that these parents have a tendency to interfere a bit too much in the lives of their children and it might not do much good to the marital lives of these kids. While the kids might have found a mechanism to deal with this level of parental influence in their lives but the new couple is going to struggle to keep pace, especially in cases where they all live together. There’s no way to make parents mere search agents without allowing them the joy of colouring the search criteria. Its only human.

If you are the type of person that needs your parents to play such an active role in finding you a life partner, that says something about the type of person you are. Judgemental much? May be. If you do not enjoy the journey of understanding yourself, sourcing your  own partner and then pursuing them to forage a meaningful long term relationship, then it probably says a little bit about how much effort you are going to put into your marriage.

Think about this like campus recruitment. Parents are like career services and bring in great companies for you to apply to and interview with. While you might be cool enough to make an impression and get the job (or spouse) you want, you might not be brave enough to put yourself out there into an off campus job market where you face greater competition and you really have to sell your worth to lock a job down. So, just like most campus jobs, you might mostly end up with cookie cutter or run of the mill type marriages that are formula driven.

Real joy is in spending time to understand yourself and sourcing your dream job (or spouse) and pursuing it until you have locked it down, sort of like love marriage. It is this journey that makes for a great story, people like to recount. While everybody wants love marriage, it takes a little bit of talent to make that happen and not everyone has it. So for everyone else, there’s always PG rated spouse hunting and I am not going to help you with it!

Spike that arranged marriage coffee yo!

A friend of mine has been in a the market for a while and has just not been able to find anyone remotely interesting. Knowing the sort of women he has been with or fancied in the past (only counting the ones while he was sober), I think he has a type – the quirky and wannabe quirky. You might be quick to judge here and say oh, if she is “wannabe” quirky, then that’s definitely not cool. I couldn’t disagree more with you on this one as I believe, if someone’s trying to be interesting, its anyway better than someone who is neither quirky nor trying to be quirky since they either they don’t realise they have potential (the dim-types) or rather let it go waste (the sitting on their ass-types).

Imagine a “quirkiness potential by how hard one tries” matrix. Its not hard to guess, majority of the market belongs to the lovely quadrant in red (see image below) that I’d like to lovingly call “mosranna” (curd rice). These are the type of people who go in and out of dates with an arranged marriage interview “guide” book like bots and are the worst to encounter in the market.

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When all you see in the market is this variety, its normal to lose faith in the process of arranged marriage. You start getting desperate to have this one thing checked off your bucket list and be married already, but you know what, you are looking for a life partner and not a piece of paper to spit your gum into. So, take it easy yo.

After having seen the worst, its probably too much to hope for the really cool variety and so maybe you would either settle for kinda cool or wannabe cool right? So, how do we weed this variety out you ask? By avoiding small talk. Yes, Bangalore’s traffic is terrible, nobody cares about how hectic your job is or if your hobby is just catching up with friends over drinks.

In a recent article, one of my all time favourite behavioural economists, Dan Ariely, talks about how avoiding small talk has the upside of better quality of interaction and creation of significantly superior relationships. What does avoiding small talk mean in a date with a complete strange that has been set up by your parents or some auntie like me? For instance, asking someone about their best Tinder date stories. While this might seem inappropriate at many levels, if someone were to ask this question in the first place, they are definitely willing to make the effort to spice things up.

Whats more important to note is the reaction of the person who is posed this question. If they got perplexed, its alright, but if they got seriously offended for being asked such out of syllabus questions, its worth noting as with high risk, you may get high returns. Suppose your quirkiness is received positively, you will definitely have one hell of a date if not a proposal at the end of it because this person was either from the kinda cool or the wannabe cool quadrant. Now what you make of it is really up to you, I won’t be the judge here.

Like any decision made in the absence of much information, we will need to really on instinct and extrapolation to tilt one way or another. If you haven’t seen a spike already, why don’t you stir one up yourself the next around?

Margin for errors in the market

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As I’ve said several times, we are the Tinder generation and the relentless swiping makes us believe we have infinite chances at great relationships and the truth is, we are far from that. In fact, my hunch is that, this is one of the many reasons why divorce rates have sky rocketed in my social circle because we believe its far easier to break ties with our partner and find another than making it work with the existing one. While its easier to break, its far tougher to find another partner and this only gets exponentially harder at every attempt. If you choose to be single vs being with someone toxic, that’s probably for the best but if you choose finding someone new over your existing partner, I’d caution you to not be fooled by stories of outliers that people tell you in support of your decision to break away. The world is a lot less empathetic and less forgiving that you imagine it to be.

Recently, I spoke to a guy in his mid-thirties who was looking for a bride and he sounded like a genuinely nice person. Towards the end of our conversation, he said he wasn’t sure if it was relevant but mentioned very matter of factly that he had been engaged briefly last year. While it was quiiiite relevant (as opposed to their glory of playing “Sugreeva’s role” in high school), I just said okay, that’s fine but make sure you mention this to the girl I’ve introduced you to at some point. I am not sure if he did or not but things didn’t work out with the girl for more trivial logistical reasons and so I suggested another girl I thought would be better suited except this girl was married briefly several years ago.

I thought he’d atleast consider talking to the girl given he’s been in a somewhat similar situation but he bluntly told me that “they” are only looking for unmarried alliances and he also went on to tell me how being engaged was very different from being married since he only broke it off due to incompatibility issues even though he knew nothing about why this girl ended her marriage. While I understood where he was coming from, I couldn’t understand where empathy had lost its way. While I should have been brooding over his hypocrisy, I was plain thankful that he atleast responded to me instead of deciding to be aghast at such a suggestion and going MIA (believe me, I’ve met people who’ve done this and I have vowed to never work with such people ever).

I have been accused in the past of introducing my clients to people within my database just because they are sitting on it rather than because someone exactly matches their requirements, but what they don’t understand is that I have no incentive to do so ( I don’t make money out of matchmaking) and if I ever introduced them to someone, its because I  really wanted to since I saw some shared interest. If this wasn’t reason enough for people to look beyond things that are apparent such as being divorced, currently unemployed, fat, or not, or whatever, I doubt anyone can ever help such people. These are the sort of people who make the market such a ruthless place hardly leaving any margins for error and ensuring an illusion of a perfect match and a perfect marriage.

 

Making it to the second date and beyond

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The reason Marriage Broker Auntie pivoted from actively matchmaking to matrimonial advisory is because every introduction is driven by pure instinct which is a result of several years of being in business but quite often, people aren’t ready to make the most out of these opportunities. As a result, it is very easy for clients to believe that I didn’t find them the right match and dismiss my value.

Today’s generation has grown up on swiping relentlessly and actually believes that their possibilities are infinite, which is far from the bitter truth (more about this in another blogpost). If not sheer luck, it takes a lot of effort to even get through the first date and so I focus on helping people put in well directed effort to making it to the second date.

One such couple I worked with recently just took things to the next level by getting engaged, to be married in May next year. Ajith and Sneha are two very nice people who had been in the market for a couple of years when they signed up with the Auntie. Like most Kannada/ Telugu Brahmins in Bangalore, they had dutifully signed up with the famous “Aseema” in Malleswaram (read more about it here) but hadn’t had much luck so far (what a shocker!).

Ajith is my cousin-in-law Smitha’s (my main ally in this alliance) cousin. He is a friendly, level headed guy who appreciates good humour and comes from a family of 19 cousins. Sneha happens to be my junior from undergrad and when I first spoke to her, she seemed to open up very little and I found it hard to decode her temperament. I insisted that Sneha and I chat on video so I could read her expressions atleast. She seemed like a witty, enthu-cutlet trapped inside a shy soft spoken girl.

Since I had known Ajith for a while, he came home and we chatted about several things such as college, work, his experience in the market, etc. and at that point, Sneha was just one of the girls I considered introducing him to. I wasn’t sure if it would work but I had to give my best. After some thought, I curated a date that was to start on a badminton court (our man Ajith is a state level badminton player and this way, he could play a home game and be impressive) followed by a chat over chaat (which would give our girl Sneha a chance to kill it with her wit).

And as expected, this worked well for both of them because when you surprise people by putting them in new environments, their energies are invested in making themselves comfortable rather than judging others allowing for a stress free date. I am immensely thankful to both Sneha and Ajith for trusting the Auntie and being cool enough to give my date idea a shot. If not for them, I would never be sure that with some effort, you could game luck into making it to the second date.

While I stayed with them through every date (figuratively only!) until they had decided to take things to the next level, tell their parents, etc., I am only going to take credit for them making it to the second date because the rest is just the universe doing its magic!

Signing off by wishing this beautiful couple the best in the years to come!

The profile picture protocol

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I cannot begin to reiterate the importance of first impression in the marriage market. The moment you are introduced to someone in the market, the first order of business is them stalking and judging you on every tiny detail you have floating out there on the virtual web space, even before they talk to you. Most judgements are made based on images – how you look, how your looks have progressed, what you wear, how you wear, who you hang out with and so on. Shallow, superficial and unfair you think? Maybe, but that’s how it works. So you better accept it and do the needful.

If you had to start tidying up your online social presence, I would absolutely start with your profile picture – be it on Facebook, twitter, linkedin or WhatsApp. Surely you don’t get called out for having a terrible profile picture on social media unlike on a dating app, but if you are unsure about how you fare on your profile picture, rate yourself against the following principles –

  1. Put your own photo and not that of your favourite actor or animal.
  2. Let there be no one else in the picture apart from you. Especially not a better looking friend of the same gender. Like, come on?! But okay, animals are allowed.
  3. Don’t put up pictures with any baby, not even your niece or nephew because how would anyone know that the baby is not yours unless you explained. I know its cute, but people end up looking older than they actually are with a baby.
  4. Everyone knows you’re sexy but save the cleavage for later.
  5. No funny faces except if its genuinely cute and someone credible of the opposite gender said so.

Its quite a pity but the market is such that we make judgements about the most obvious visible things about a person due to lack of any deep information available. While it seems quite superficial, its fairly logical. Being in the market makes us realise that we have so many flaws and our lives are so screwed up that being in a relationship seems like  a huge respite from superficial judgement. We ourselves succumb to making such outright judgement about others, so why don’t we put some lipstick on our pretty piggy faces instead of whining about how the world works?

Everybody's got a "But"!

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You know how people say “Oh everything’s great about that person, but…”. It is this very “but” that keeps people from being in a relationship already. The “but” doesn’t necessarily take a bad connotation in every case, it’s just some sort of a hang up (positive or negative) or impediment for them to find a partner. Sometimes when people come to me looking for a bride/ groom, I am quite perplexed that someone who seems so great is still single. Soon I realise that they aren’t getting married because there’s one (or many) thing (s) or a “but” that’s preventing it. I spin this “but” off as an anchor to find them a match because this “but” seems to be such a big part of their lives that everything else seems workable if the “but” is taken care of.

For instance, I’ve a client, who after a few attempts at finding a bride concluded that he isn’t getting married because he only has a bachelor’s degree and most parents of brides in his community these days  want a groom with at least a masters. While this was the reason given to him by a couple of counter parties, he decided to make this the overarching reason for him to still be single. So, this is what I’d typically classify as a “but” – believing that the lack of a masters degree is bringing down his market value. Hence, his approach to bride hunt becomes more defensive of his lack of masters as opposed to selling his strengths.

The way I would typically get around this “but” is by matching him with someone who has clearly expressed nonchalance about the number of degrees a potential partner has and then, up-playing his strengths to make the potential bride interested in the groom. Once I have informed the guy about this girls’ nonchalance about his degrees, I have done my bit to take the “but” out of the equation. Since this is a two-sided market and a match happens only when I have taken the girl’s “but” out of the equation, in this case, I make sure I pick a girl with an insignificant “but”.

In conclusion, everyone’s got a “but” and its only a matter of time for this to grow in significance and we are all better off getting into a relationship before this happens!

Schrodinger’s relationships

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Growing up, we are all made to believe that we have one soulmate specially manufactured for us, hiding somewhere in this universe and in case our stars align well, we might just be able to meet this person. So, the first time you fall in love, you genuinely believe that this person you are in love with is your soulmate until for no apparent fault of yours, the relationship crumbles like soft cheese. You just can’t stop blaming yourself for the failure of this relationship because you think you couldn’t make it work despite the universe doing its miracle of making you meet with your soulmate. I mean, how many people in the world actually get a chance to be with their soulmate and you, on the other hand, completely ruined your chance.

You’ve hardly managed to get some sort of a closure on this awry relationship, when you meet someone else who you get along reasonably well with. Having been at a certain stage in your previous relationship, you find yourself much more uninhibtied this time around. While you took one year and twenty dates to get to a quick peck on the cheek that warranted a 10-page dear diary piece, you find yourself easily indulging in public display of affection on the second date itself. Whats worse is that this experience doesn’t even warrant a 140 character text to your date saying you had a good time until he/ she expectantly reaches out to you to tell you how much it meant to them.

It’s completely okay (and normal) to feel this way when you’ve failed in your very first relationship for no fault of yours. What’s not okay is to not take the other person’srelationship quotient into consideration. What if this was their first time? What if you tattered their spirits with your inability to love back the way you did the first time around? You will just end up creating one more person like you who believes in love just a little bit less than they ever did.

We are little bit like ants. We keep sharing a little something with everyone we meet in our lives as we crawl. Every interaction makes us a little bit of who we are cumulatively today. If you show someone a little bit of love, you make them capable of doing the same with the next ant they meet and this gets positively reinforced there onwards. If you aren’t sure you can commit to loving someone, don’t bother trying because all you’ll end up doing is damaging someone for good because even cynicism spirals negatively like that.

It takes a few empty flings or meaningless relationships for you to realise that the concept of one love is just a popular cliche that’s been over-romanticised and that there’s no such thing as a soulmate. So, you either end up as a desperate romance hunter with the facade of a cynic or hippy polyamorist who has so much love to give that you need to sow seeds of your affection as far and wide as possible draining all magic out of love, making the world a worse place.

But how do you commit even before you are fully sure this  is “real” love, you may ask? This ain’t your first time to naively believe this person is your soulmate and even if he/ she were, you should have known right away given that you are smarter with relationships having been burnt once, right? I know its a little bit of a Schrodinger relationship problem. You don’t know if this is love until you have opened the door to this relationship (read get them in the sack) and once you’ve open the door, you know it is isn’t love. So as long as you haven’t opened the door, this could be both love and not.

Essentially, there’s no perfect solution to the above question and that’s precisely why our society has evolved a reasonable alternative called marriage. Let me explain. You don’t open the door until you really have to, at which point you are either married or too old or don’t care if the love is dead or alive since you have “settled” for what seems to be a less gut churning, stable, long-term relationship only to be occasionally reminded of your shortcomings as a lover when you see a distant friend’s filtered pictures on Instagram with their high school sweethearts.

Love Sick.

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This post is not about arranged marriages, or the dynamics of love marriage. In fact, its not about marriage at all. Not even close. I am going to tell you a story that maybe mine but I bet it feels like yours too. I have told and re-told this story so many times in my own head that it might not be so real anymore. So, all the characters in this story are purely fictitious and if they resemble someone you know, its purely coincidental.

When I was 19 , I saw a boy who was smart, well-educated, handsome, much older, charming, friendly and everything I had ever dreamt of in a guy I wanted to be with. Silly me, I fell in love (you know, when you’re 19 kind of love). And quite naturally, I wanted him to feel the same way about me, because I am not like fucking Shah Rukh Khan in Kal Ho Na Ho that I’d be happy to see my love be with Saif Ali Khan! Being a part of the same social circle meant that it was easy to get introduced and be acquainted with each other.

Like always, I found a way (thanks to the era of 100 free SMS) to engage him in conversation because I was determined to make him fall in love with me. Maybe I was inspired by watching Hitch. But secretly, I hated myself for desiring this boy before he desired me. Why did it matter, you ask? Because, every movie you watch (including Hitch) or every book you read, tells you that men chase women and not the other way around. So, I always felt guilty being in love.

In the beginning, I spent most of my waking hours mindlessly chatting with him. Every time I saw him (which would be in large public gatherings), I felt like we exchanged secret flirty glances with each other, which would lead to more interesting private conversations over text. I could feel a lot of tension grow in the air. It felt like I was almost succeeding in my mission to make him like me back, because I could tell from how increasingly desperate I grew to see an “I love you” text from him (because that’s the sign of love when you are 19, right!).

I woke up every morning with this incredible urge to talk to him, but my guilt would convince my silly mind to wait till evening after he got back from work so I don’t seem like I didn’t have a life. It was the hardest thing I ever did. I initiated most conversations, but his responses were always encouraging. Being older and having had a higher RQ, helped him enjoy the attention he got without being compelled to return my favour. I was naive enough to misread this enjoyment as reciprocation.

Sometimes, I would spend hours thinking about how I could initiate a conversation in such a way that he’d be inspired to take the lead on the next one. Sometimes, I double texted him (you know when you text someone before they can respond to your previous text) because I refused to read the signs when I was ignored. I mean, he could probably just be busy right? Like why wouldn’t he text me if he were free, very low opportunity cost and all. But you know what, it was exhausting.

It even made me wonder if I was a disgrace to womenkind for wanting to try so  hard. I would long for him to make me stop. Why couldn’t he just say he loved me? or not. I had gotten to a point where all I wanted was a verdict for my efforts – good or bad, I didn’t care. Finally, I did get a sign. He asked me out on a date!!! He’s got to be in love too right? I mean, why else would someone spend 300 bucks on someone else (Yeah, I was that naive). He took me to this charming restaurant and he was so chivalrous. While I didn’t want the date to end, I couldn’t wait to get home so we could confess our undying love for each other over text (somehow our text conversations were bolder and more suggestive).

The date just added a 100 pounds to the growing sexual tension between us. Everytime I saw a notification from him on my phone, I’d desperately hope for it to be “I love you”. But it never happened. He continued to lead me on. Or in his defence, let’s just say he didn’t stop me because I never told him how I felt about him. So, I decided to take matters into my own hand and just tell him how I felt. And I did. He thought it was so sweet but he was not ready to be in a relationship just as yet since he had just gotten out of a serious relationship.

Game over you’d think right? No, I was so naive that I didn’t get it all. All I thought was about how to make him not only love me back but love me more than this ex girlfriend who had managed to be in a two year relationship with him. I couldn’t just be myself anymore. I had to be much more than this ex-girlfriend, but the problem was I knew nothing about her. I constantly oscillated from being curious (read, jealous) about this ex-girlfriend to acting nonchalant, only re-assuring him that I was definitely a crazy woman.

Although he didn’t say anything, I was constantly judging myself. Since there was no Facebook to secretly stalk the living hell out of her, I had to start asking him all sorts of awkward questions about his past and this ex girlfriend, only making him never fall in love with me. Why couldn’t I just be like every other girl I knew who’d rather have men lining up for them than having to do all this work? Why was I so different?  Maybe I had too much testosterone (the hormone that makes you chase) in me? Maybe I wasn’t supposed to be born a girl at all?

Since I wouldn’t stop trying, he continued to play along as well. We had spent a year of my life at this when I decided to end my misery and ask him if time was going to make him love me. I think I already knew what he was going to say but I needed him to say it.  But he didn’t. Yet again, he said he really liked me but he needed more time. By then, I had known him quite well to figure out, he didn’t actually need more time.

I don’t know if he didn’t have the courage to break my heart or he was just too much of a coward to make any sort of commitment. I knew he wasn’t being completely honest with me. It broke my heart to know that even after a year, I couldn’t even get him to be honest with me, forget falling in love. A little part of me died that day somewhere in the middle of that conversation. I had exhausted my guilt ridden will to ride the one way of love. I hung up and never looked back. Not even once. And just like that, from being love sick, I had grown exhaustingly sick of it.

The end.

P.S – Does this sound all too familiar? Are you love sick? Its okay. The good news is, you are not alone. We’ve all (yes, all!) been there. If you want to talk about your story over a cup of coffee, write to me.

 

Faux pas by women on arranged marriage dates

People normally invoke the blessings of Almighty before they start writing. Similarly, I feel the need to silently (because she’s asleep now!) thank my 2 month old daughter who has generously granted me permission to finally write. Now that invocations, thanks, etc. are out of the way, let me dive straight into the point.
When I wrote about faux pas by men in the arranged marriage market earlier this month, I had promised to write a similar piece about women and so here it is..

Looks matter

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According to a survey by a popular dating site, the No.1 (and only) thing that matters to men is looks. So, if you want a potential partner to seriously consider you, you better make an attempt to look good. You don’t need to have a pretty face or size zero type figure, but making an attempt to seem more attractive will earn you some brownie points. Seems too superficial? Maybe. But that’s the true. So, all you women who want your inner beauty noticed while looking like an unkempt potato, why don’t you try love marriage instead?

Social conditioning vs Feminism

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Everybody wants a prince charming! Women are conditioned to want a prince charming because most romantic novels, movies, etc are all written from a woman’s perspective often overdoing characterisation of the man and how that makes the woman feel, that very little is said about the woman or how she makes the man feel. But if there was ever a book written about how men feel and the type of women they like, it obviously touches our oversensitive feminist nerves. So, while we all want a prince charming, have you wondered maybe he doesn’t want us?

Sitting on your ass waiting to be pursued

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Women love to be chased as it fulfils our ever increasing need for attention. Men usually have a lot of time and energy to pursue beautiful (inside and out) women. But, this energy might somewhat diminishes when it has to be used for a woman who is potentially going to nag them for the rest of their married lives. So given that this energy is limited, they like to optimise it for women who truly 100% cater to their needs as a wife. So, if you want to sit back and be pursued in the arranged marriage market, you will have to wait a very long time for a man who thinks you are his 100% better half. There’s a chance it may never happen also, so you might want to re-consider sitting on your ass waiting for your chasing hunk.

Confusing love with logistics

We can’t make up our mind about whether we want a love marriage or an arranged marriage. So, while we want to indulge in a dreamy/ surreal conversation about life, art and nothingness that assures us that we are with that perfect man, we even want to discuss how slowly or quickly we want to take this relationship forward or find out how often the in-laws are going to visit us, all in the same conversation. Now, how is a logistical conversation like this ever going to make you fall in love?

Championing equality on the first date

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Women increasingly want an equal relationship today and it’s about time they did.  It may be somewhat difficult to recruit a husband if you were to mail him a copy of all the household chores you’d like to share as meeting documentation prior to your first meeting..sorry date! While looking for a partner who shares the same philosophy about equality is important, we must not forget to acknowledge that for thousands of years, our society has conditioned women to lead the proceedings at home and men to expect that and so, men don’t exist in such packages. So, instead of championing equality and losing the chance of being with a man who could be enlightened to co-champion equality, maybe you could tactfully find out how mouldable he is?

Talking money

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Men don’t like discussing money. So, don’t ask him how much he makes. Not even because you want to make sure you make less than him so you don’t end up making him insecure. While it’s true that most men are threatened by more successful women, its only when the difference is too stark, which is not hard to figure out in the arranged marriage market just based on qualification, job, etc. If it’s so important to you, you should meet men who actually flaunt their wealth and deal with the repercussions that come with a man who can’t keep it in his pockets.

Always expecting the man to pay

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Some men offer to pay on a date out of chivalry, but really they don’t have to. But if you think about it, its rather odd to not go dutch when you are meeting a stranger. So, acknowledge this gesture and offer to pay the next time in case he insisted on taking this one. You think we women are the only ones who judge men as being cheap? No, men judge us too. Check this out.

Don’t talk about your past too soon

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Most people have one or more past relationships nowadays by the time they enter the market and its okay. Most men don’t want to know too many details about a woman’s past because its not very romantic you know. And if you meet a man who does, RUN!

Stop comparing them with your ex

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While shopping, women have a habit of looking back and wondering if the previous store offered a better bargain. This doesn’t end with shopping. They do this with men as well. In retrospect, the ex is somehow always either more chivalrous or more social or is better educated or is richer or was better kisser and so on. If you are in the market to find a spouse, its because you couldn’t make it work with your ex. So, move on.

Don’t do a Ringroad Shubha

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If you are already in love with someone else, don’t enter the market. Period.
So, that was my top 10 list of faux pas that women commit in the arranged marriage process, based on stories that I have heard from men in the market. If you have more such stories, share them with us here and together we could make the arranged marriage process more fun!

Faux pas by men on arranged marriage dates

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 hilarious 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 high profile investor you wouldn’t get a shot at pitching to if it weren’t for this date, DO NOT talk about work. It’s just really boring and you will 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.

2. Narcissism

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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 you know what, women like to be heard too, and you will learn this the hard way after you get married. *grin*

3. “What else” level 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. Fwd messages as conversation starters

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People receive good morning forwards from old relatives, random colleagues you once worked on a project with and creeps only. So, the normal protocol is usually not to respond to this. 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 to get a copy of every poem or photo you have up there. Relax!

5. Failing to make 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, be a man and suggest meeting up. While I always encourage men to take the lead on organising the date (it’s kind of sexy this way!), be mindful/ flexible about the woman’s convenience as well, but not to an extent where you ask the woman to decide everything and just show up like the chief guest at the stipulated place and time.

6. Showing off terrible fashion sense

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If you thought only men cared about looks in a woman, you are wrong. Women care too. Surely, its not top of their list but it’s third on their list (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 willingness and ability to spend (both, because there is a big difference wearing diesel and deisel!).

7. Diving into interview mode

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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. This involves asking women if they know how to cook, clean, etc. 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 too 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 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 only about yourself at first, your mother will talk to her later!

9. Going dutch on date

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Women surely want men who are feminist, but if a guy by any crazy chance suggests going dutch on the date, he is just plain cheap. Double standards you think? Yes, that’s right. But women are like that wonly.

10. Never ask a woman how she plans to manage both work and home after marriage

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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 than sounding like a shady boss/ HR in her firm!

Love is not blind, its about all the faults you don’t mind

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A client recently told me that she didn’t want to get married and the only reason she entered the market is due to parental pressure. So, she thought it was important to clarify that even though she understands that the society expects her to accommodate changes in her life, she wanted a marriage that wouldn’t alter her life even one bit – she wanted to be just as independent, go out with her friends just as often, work just as hard and contribute socially just as much. I must confess, I slightly judged her to be unreasonable and hence, quickly jumped to give my “auntie advice” that whether she likes it or not, marriage is life altering and she has no choice but to acknowledge it, and it also had nothing to do with the society!

A couple of weeks fast forward, I had an argument with my husband over something very trivial. My line of argument was based on how he was not allowing me to be myself and was trying to control my life. Sure, I didn’t like this trait of his, but I realised that this was something I was fully aware of going into wedlock with this boy and hence, I had no right to complain. When I decided to marry him, I was willing to trade traits I didn’t like with the ones I did like. So, this brings me to a very important point – We constantly make trade offs in life, even when it comes to choosing a partner. If this sounds too geeky, take this one – Love is not blind, its about all the faults you don’t mind.

A lot of people come into the market with a long shopping list and don’t exit the market till every one of the items is checked off. While having such a list is not such a bad thing (because choosing a partner is a fairly important decision in life), it hardly makes economic sense to believe we don’t have to make equivalent trade offs. So, the longer your list, the more trade offs you would have to make. Imagine picking up a kilogram of tomatoes from the market and refusing to pay for it. Its sort of like that.

For instance, if you married for constant companionship, it also means having to make joint decisions for everyday meals even if you never did that before in your life. So, changes are inevitable and if you are not willing to accommodate them, you probably shouldn’t get married even if your parents are on your back for it!

Marriage Markets and social laundry

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In the age old days, we had limited information about alliances that middlemen or brokers brought in and we heavily relied on offline networks for social due diligence. It was usually enough if the tharkari (potential spouse) had a respected public sector job with the promise of pension and you could call their office to get a character certificate from a random colleague. But, gone are those days, thanks to social media. Today we live in a world where one’s existence and character is verified on the internet and presence of respectable mutual friends is a measure of confidence in the alliance. So, if you are in the market, whether you like it or not, you will be stalked mercilessly before any contact is established with you. So, online social presence upkeep is more important than ever before.

In 2008-09, I used to be Karthik’s (my current husband) Marriage Broker Auntie and he seriously needed some help with what I call “Social laundry” or in simple words, a deep cleansing of his social media pages. For instance, there was this photo that had no place being publicly available, even if Karthik thought he could send off some “I used to party regularly in my school compound and hence, I am very cool” vibes. For one, it automatically weeded out uncool parents of all the cool chicks out there from passing on his profile to their wards. Secondly, even if his profile actually ended up with a cool chick, this picture is really not cool because this ain’t a picture of a suave guy who can hold his beer and jiggy some sophisticated moves to Led Zep or something. While perception lies in the eye of the beholder, I frankly thought he appears like an overenthusiastic dude who had found liberation consuming alcohol outside the confines of his conservative home and expressed it through rigorous head banging to “bin were sanam (90’s hindi pop)”.

You might argue that someone has to like you for everything you are and all that, but this ain’t the love marriage market for people to be generously forgiving about social faux pas. People have all sorts of hang ups/ fetishes about potential spice in the arranged marriage market and even if you are slightly off the mark, you don’t qualify. So, we all ought to do what we can and invest some time and effort in social laundry, to ensure that we come off clean if not perfect. For starters, here are a few tips to get you started –

  • Get yourself a nice profile picture on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp, wherever that you could be hunted down and stalked. Don’t put up group photos where no one knows who you are or even worse, put a picture with a hotter friend!!
  • Make sure you do not have any “Share this forward in the next 59 seconds or Baba will curse you for 10 years” level forwards on your page. We are not in 2003 anymore.
  • Saying “dis” for this or “lyf” for life is not a thing anymore, so please run a grammar and spell check for all the content you put out (ok, not being a communication Nazi here!). You won’t believe the number of people I have met who eliminate people on the account of terrible grammar, spellings or pronunciation.
  • If you have lost 30 pounds over the last 6 months, there is no need to show off with a before and after photo. Rather than being appreciated for your determination and fitness regime, people would be freaked out and wondering when you would get unfit again, unless of course this person is a brand manager with Patanjali foods.
  • Oh and make sure you delete all your desperate pleas to friends asking them to trade a seed or life in one of the crazy games you are addicted to because usually this is a sign of not having a life.

Kthnxbai!

Passing the baton in arranged marriage markets

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Arranged marriage markets in China (credit : asiastrangenews)

Because of the business of arranged marriages, I always have a plenty of family members helping me out with leads. Mum, dad, uncles and aunties usually get leads through their friends (contemporaries) and they try their best to explain how I operate. I prefer to work directly with the person in the market rather than their parents, although I acknowledge that both parties together form the decision making unit in the Indian arranged marriage market (Not very different from China). For decisions to be made efficiently enough, you need a key decision maker for this big decision making unit. While in my grandparents generation, it was usually the alpha male (father, uncle, grandfather, whoever) that held the post of key decision maker, it is hardly relevant today because the person in the market doesn’t necessarily believe that this key decision maker fully understands him/ her or their needs well enough. This is precisely why most people wade through the arranged marriage markets for years, even with a perfectly marketable “profile”.

So, I cannot begin to stress the importance of nominating the person in the market as the key decision maker because contrary to what most parents feel, its easier to tell who the parents are based on a kids personality rather than who the kid is based on the parents personality. We tend to forget that our children are not just a function of how we raise them at home and there is so much about them that we will never learn, especially because of our social construct. For instance, I have spoken to several mothers who are immensely protective of their sons and will proudly tell me that their sons are shy with girls and that’s why the mothers are leading the bride hunt, but the truth of the matter is, these guys have been in and out of several relationships that these mothers have no clue about. Why does this matter? I’ll tell you why.

I remember speaking to someone who came recommended as a very conservative person from a conservative and traditional family, since my mutual contact felt that this person would suit a certain conservative friend of ours, based on a conversation with this person’s parent. If I were to make an introduction based on this, it would be an epic fail.When I spoke to this person, I realized a couple of things –

1. This person is not as conservative as their parents think of them but its not hard to imagine that the family could be conservative as I did see traces of their family values in them, at least enough to make an educated decision about what sort of a home environment they’d thrive in.

2. This person is so much more than their public “profile”, which was hardly acknowledged or appreciated by the rest of the decision making unit.

So, now that I know who this person is most likely to say “Yes” to, it increases my odds of getting a match right and in turn, helps them get out of the market faster. So, uncles and aunties out there, if you want your son or daughter getting married faster, it is time to pass the baton and allow allow your kids to lead the spouse search while you play just the merchandiser, especially if you want to work with the Marriage Broker Auntie as I wouldn’t have it any other way!

 

A modern take on why love marriages fail

broken-marriage-heart-shutterstock_134537426Ok, before you get all trolly based on the title, let me clarify that arranged marriages fail too, just as much or less or more (I don’t know), but this post is not about why arranged marriages fail. It’s about why love marriages fail.

About 6-7 years ago, when I got engaged, I remember my parents insisting that I limit my interactions with the fiancé pre-wedding as much as possible because they felt the charm would wear off if we got to know each other too much. They believed that discovering one another was an integral part of every relationship and we must save it for after the wedding. I never really understood this because I believed that only if you invested sufficient capital in a relationship could you possibly minimise the running costs post wedding. In other words, if you didn’t get to know each other well enough, how would you know for sure that you are marrying the right person. With time and experience, I have come to realise that the key word is “enough” and there is actually an optimal amount of knowledge one needs to have about their partner prior to getting hitched for life – less won’t do, more won’t do either.

Here’s why. My very wise friend, Taps and I were discussing some of our friends’ recently failed marriages and we realised how a majority of them were love marriages (we hardly have any arranged marriages in our social circle, so that explains this!), some of them even 10 year pre-wedding courtships, that ended within a year or two of marriage. That’s when Taps had an interesting take on why this happens. She said it’s because people assume they know each other fully before taking the big step of legitimising their relationship without realising that there is so much more to learn about each other once they start living together out of legal obligation. For instance, trivial stuff such sleeping patterns, early morning routines, dietary habits, etc might be so different between the couple that it can take some getting used to. Larger issues such as social or family obligations become a bigger deal once you are married and complying with them is no easy feat.

So, when there are too many changes even after you think you know them well enough, naturally, you flip. You begin to question the basis of the relationship, the person you first fell in love with, authenticity of the love and what not. Now, such deep questions usually have deep answers, and hence, dire consequences. On the contrary, in the case of arranged marriages, you embark the journey with the premise that you don’t know each other well enough and you’ll learn over the course of your lifetime. You have a base layer of knowledge of the partner that’s enough to make an educated decision on whether someone’s worth knowing over a lifetime, every time you learn something new about them, you add and subtract from the base and this is usually a never ending process because there’s almost no way you could possibly fully know someone and most people acknowledge that due to the arranged marriage construct. Of course sometimes, there’s a chance you may get bored, lose patience or even figure out that everything you have learnt thus far is not interesting enough to continue the exploration and you could end things or not, depending on the costs – transaction or opportunity.