About 3 years ago my wife and I discussed how dating and marriage in her childhood church can be very similar to modern Hindu “arranged” marriages.
I put arranged in quotes because it’s not arranged as traditionally understood. Way back in the day, a few Desi aunties would get together over chai and decide that Akshay and Seema make a great match because of caste, education, fairness of skin (yes, really), etc. And that would be that. There wouldn’t be much choice, and they’d get married. But now, even if your auntie “picks” someone for, you still go through this quasi-dating process.
The thing is–with both some CoC relationships and my fellow American Desis–it’s not usually the kind of dating (normal) Americans do.
You’re not trying to find out if you have this cosmic connection and align on 29 dimensions of compatibility. It’s more along the lines of: is there some baseline level of attraction, and are there any red flags that would prevent me from marrying this person? It can be a pretty quick assessment, and it’s common to go from first “date” to being engaged in a few months.
I can speak more confidently on my own culture, but the idea seems to be that even if you’re not in love initially, you’ll grow to be so. Put another way (and I’m definitely plagiarizing this from somewhere): In Western marriages you marry who you love. In Indian (and to a lesser degree some Christian sub-cultures) you love who you marry.
Now the above analysis is admittedly speculative because neither of us actually followed that path. We dated for almost 6 years before our wedding. And my parents obviously didn’t arrange my marriage to this white Christian girl. But I think many of our peers would agree with what I just wrote.
At any rate…We both thought that this mindset should influence American relationships. It shouldn’t be the only consideration, and it’s easy to go too far. But it should be part of the calculation. And the main reason is that (a good) marriage is awesome. It’s seriously the best thing ever.
Modern dating–especially online dating–prevents some people from experiencing that awesomeness. It encourages people to continually overoptimize and search for perfection that simply doesn’t exist. There’s too much darn choice.
I have many friends who rejected potential mates for the stupidest reasons. And all of these friends wanted to get married! At some point people should really say: “You know what…he/she is good enough!” Justin Murphy said it more eloquently than we did:
We (I more than my wife) got really excited about trying to bring this mindset to Western dating. I wanted to start a quasi-arranged marriage site.
I felt there was a market for it. I’ve had several non-Indian friends tell me they wish they had arranged marriages. All of us know people who want to be in a relationship / married but don’t like dating.
There are many products for people who just want to hook up. There are also sites for people who want to get into a relationship by dating lots of people. But there’s nothing for people who more or less want it worked out for them.
I got really into this idea. I started taking time off from work to do market research and flesh out the idea.
It never took off. A job promotion, two toddlers, multiple foster placements, a summer in East Africa, a run for City Council, covid, and general risk aversion all intervened.
But I did tell people about it. When I did so, I often said something along the lines of: “I don’t think I’ll ever do it, so I hope someone does.”
But now that Justin has inspired me…I might just give it another shot. But if I actually do anything this time (still unlikely), I’m going to start an arranged relationship (read: not marriage) site.
My next post will explain why I’ve shifted away from arranged marriages. In any case…what do I plan to call my site that will never take off? You guessed it: “You’re good enough!”