Kissing Frogs & Saying No

What’s the worst thing about looking for a life partner?

Putting yourself out there.
Investing in something that might not work out.
Respecting the feelings of everyone involved(exhausting)
Getting rejected.
Saying No.
Saying Yes!

I think it is- saying no after saying yes.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could be sure of who we really are and who we want BEFORE we start looking for someone? Or find out in one or two meetings. Our gut would just tell us and we could just dive in heart-first! So simple. So straightforward. If only it were that easy. In reality, you should VERIFY what your gut tells you and THEN dive in.

Romantic relationships can exist well in a vacuum but marriage is more democratic by definition. Future partners, their parents, siblings and extended relatives(ugh-they can be the worst) all approach it from their own point of view. Everyone has preconceived notions, fears, anxieties about marriage. They all feel like something is at stake. The girl is uprooting herself from her family. Her family has genuine concerns for her future happiness. He and his family have to live with this new person every day. They also have fears, apprehensions. What if she is a trouble maker? What if she spoils the peace of the family? No family is perfect. Will she accept his family members, who are just as uniquely-flawed as everyone in her own family? How will she deal with conflicts? Since everyone is so heavily invested, there can be heated debates. Multiple times. And that’s normal.


The biggest question is – Is he a man? I mean, is he a man or a mama’s boy? How mature is he? Can he take a stand? Can he take decisions on his own?

Marriage should be considered the true coming of age.  It is the time when a son ‘should’ become the new head of the family. He needs to spearhead this undertaking. He needs to foresee potential problems, differences in opinions and be that mediator, that point of contact. Until then, they are just grown-up-boys who have a job (in a career that their folks influenced them to get into at 15).

Conflict is built into this life-event. A modern man wants a bold woman, his parents want someone who is mild-enough-at-home, takes care of their son and becomes a good mother. Modern women want to be heard, to have a say, to be acknowledged. They want men to share in household responsibilities. Men or in-laws might not be mentally ready to give up that kind of control. That’s why the guy needs to step up to the challenge. He needs to ‘be a man'(read that in Russell Peter’s stand-up voice).

So, if you can find an independent thinker who questions hypocritical social structures, preconceived notions, if he can make his own rules in our present society which is in a state of flux, if he has a good head on his shoulders, you are sorted. In fact,  girl, you are golden! Be it an arranged marriage or a love marriage. That’s a jackpot.


Now, with arguments imminent on the horizon, the girl also has an equally critical role to play. She too needs to step up and realize that her parents won’t be able to shield her in every situation.  She will have to do her share of mediating.

She should never go into arrange marriage thinking that if things go wrong, she can shift the blame on her parents. She will have to take responsibility for the decision one day down the line.

The strength of a relationship is not measured when everyone agrees, it is measured by how the two people resolve conflicts when things go south. She needs to have enough bonding with the guy that at the end of inevitable arguments, there is still mutual respect left for each other. It is the true litmus test of how well the would-be couple communicates and become a team in the process. If the girl discovers and can convey to the parents, that the bond she has with the guy is strong enough to weather this storm, their main fear is put to rest. Parents are most worried about a lack of understanding between the new couple. However, if the outcomes of such conflicts are destructive or catastrophic, you need to STOP right there.

You need to pull the plug and say no. Why?

It is a sign that a non-negotiable has been uncovered.

Sadly, we are under the illusion that we are clear about what we want. In reality, we can only be sure of what we don’t want. Those are our non-negotiables. We have to discover what our non-negotiables are. That is a process of discovery and you can have that bittersweet fruit of self-knowledge only at the end of this scavenging experience.


The truth is, you might have to say no to multiple people. And, multiple people will say no to you. Rejection is never easy but you have to trust that struggle. You will have to remind yourself that deep down, you are a loving person, capable of giving a lot of love and you are worthy of having loving well-wishers in your life.

Remember, saying NO to the wrong one is easy, saying YES to the right one is really tough. So don’t be afraid to say No to the wrong ones, do them a favor and get them out of the way quickly. You’ll need an extra time and a shot of courage to say no the ‘kinda-right’ ones. The kinda-right ones are exhausting, they can do the most damage and are the hardest to say no to. It can physically split your brain, heart, soul into pieces. You might make some Horcruxes in the process. But remember, the reddest of flags reveal themselves only AFTER you get to know each other closely. “Perhaps the story you finish is never the one you begin.”-Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children.

You will have to get your feet in the pond, your dress, your glass slippers muddy and soaking wet, catch and kiss slimy frogs (eww..) until one of them turns out to be the prince. There is a very real chance that you’ll get wet, muddy, slimy (read hurt).There are no shortcuts here. Big surprise!

You have to THINK LONG TERM. It’s OK to say no to the ‘kinda-right’ one and take this punch in the face once. Over time, the bruised eye will heal. It is 1000 times better than living with the slow-drip of toxic regret each day of your life. We all know relatives, friends who are in such marriages.

How do you identify the ‘kinda-right’ guy?
You give him the benefit of the doubt way too often.
You find yourself justifying his behavior to yourself and the family.
You are afraid of the consequences of saying no. You feel you’ve come too far, it’s too late.
You feel you need to live out a certain storyline in your head. ‘How could this be happening to me?’
You are in denial about your expectations and the reality. ‘It’ll get better once… so and so happens.’

By saying no to an incompatible person/family, you are doing yourself, your family, him and his family and your future children a huge favor. You’re saving everyone from unending arguments, anxiety, headache, venting over the phone to your family, friends, colleagues, verbal fights, health issues, unhappy children and possibly, divorce.  It is super important that you have the patience to hang on until you find the person who is just right for you. Not perfect. Just right.

What Modern Indian Women want

Today, I want to take you inside a guest house full of forty girls all in the age group of 22 to 28 years.  And I welcome you to join us for dinner every night for the next three years and listen in on our conversations.

You’re welcome. 🙂

Imagine a group of girls who are Engineers, Business Analysts, Corporate Managers, Fashion Merchandisers and other professionals coming home (a.k.a guest house) after a long day at work and talking to each other about their ideal partner.  They are hundreds of miles away from home. Some are from metropolitan cities and some are from small towns. 95 % of these girls are unmarried. One girl is married and goes to stay with her husband over the weekend who stays on the other side of town, a 2 hr drive away. One is divorced and has a photo of her 3 years old son by her bedside. So many of them have had broken engagements. So many were ‘talking to someone’ and months later would update us that ‘it didn’t work out’ as more and more red flags popped up. Some red flags reveal themselves only AFTER you say yes. As all these girls share notes, talk of their fears that came true, their spectrum of experiences, it becomes clear that fundamentally, they all want the same things.

Now, if you are a guy, I can’t take you to this hostel. My landlord would kill me. Instead, I am going to save you some time (3 Yrs) and potential injury (from the landlord) and summarize those conversations for you. I do run the risk of generalizing and being subjective. You are free to disagree with me with all your might in the comments section below. However, I am going to list out the broad expectations of the modern Indian woman.

But first, I want to talk about something that disturbs me. It infuriates me to admit that there are still a lot of girls of marriageable age that have the same outdated set of values that their mothers had thirty years ago. These girls have been over-protected since childhood. They were forced to pick a college degree that would merely “improve” their chances of finding an educated groom. Degrees that would enable them to get a high paying job were prohibited with the argument, ‘What do you need a professional Degree for? Just sign up for B.A or something like that.’  These girls’ mothers have told them repeatedly, ‘we can’t let you have any freedom, what if you get married into a strict household? How will you survive? We have to make sure you can adjust because we won’t take you back if you coming running after marriage. This is for your own good.’ Meek girls whose parents brag about their extensive cooking skills and extremely adjustable nature when you first go to meet them are out of my scope. There are a lot of girls who have never traveled out of their home town and who have no intention to get married in another city so that they can always stay in the bubble of their comfort zone. I can only guess that the hopes of such a girl would be limited to-
being treated like a family member, not just a maid/cook/son-bearer
Best case scenario- their husband would not be a male chauvinist
Dream scenario- he would love her almost as much as he loves his mother.
And Oh!  that she wouldn’t be tortured for dowry or asked to abort her girl child.

If you are a guy, I hope you are rolling your eyes and thinking, ‘Oh come on! This is so dramatic and exaggerated. I am not that kind of guy! I want a confident working woman. I want to be with someone who has life experiences of her own and is not afraid to express her own opinions. She should be someone I can have an intelligent conversation with.’  If so, then good for you!!  We should be friends!

Also, it will be easier for you to digest the expectations of the exact opposite version of this meek girl: the liberated, confident and self-dependent working Indian women of today. Chances are that their jobs have taken them to different cities across the country, where they’ve had to take care of themselves far away from home. These women have worked hard to break out of the shell that society wanted them to stay in. They are now used to a degree of freedom and a certain lifestyle: living life on their own terms. These girls don’t do as told and they definitely don’t do as is expected of them. They have an opinion about everything and are not afraid to voice it. They had to learn to be more assertive at their job to be taken seriously. They are rebels at heart. Not a lot of guys can handle that.

The credit belongs to their parents who have made great strides in breaking away from the concepts of gender inequality that they themselves grew up with. When such a family looks out for a life partner for their daughter, their prime concern is that her life partner should respect her individuality and career. In-laws should acknowledge the fact that she has worked hard to break away from constraints. It is equally important that he should let her continue with the career if she wants to. That is number one priority.

Here is the problem. Not a lot of guys were brought up in a way that enables them to handle such a situation. To yield some of that power to the woman.

Then there is a fundamental concern a woman has: how will the husband behave in daily life. Women who work just as long as men, expect and want their future husband to help and offer to help in the household chores. The way she looks at it, both of them are bread winners and if they both put in equal hours at work+commute, there is no reason for them to not put in equal hours at home. A lot of my colleagues grumble about how their husband does not help out at home at all.  That is the number one complaint of women in unhappy marriages. Guys usually overlook this but their contribution in the small stuff really counts; be it leaving the house tidy when they go for work or making the bed each morning and eventually, taking care of children. Yet there are a lot of Indian guys who are not ready to help in household chores at all or even change their children’s diapers. But these men are further divided into two categories:

  1. Married Bachelors-  These young men are so used to their casual bachelor lifestyle that just can’t see the point in doing chores. It is hard for such newly married men to suddenly be expected to tidy their bed in the morning when they have been sleeping directly on the mattress as a bachelor for years. They may not have tidied ever since they left home for college, years ago. It is impossible for them to imagine taking responsibility of children when they are still figuring out aspects of their own professional and financial life. They just got married due to family pressure. The good news is that this situation can be helped. It is about breaking bad habits that these men formed during bachelorhood. It needs patience, persistence and positive motivation from the wife.

2. Male chauvinists- An entirely different set of men who will not be able to adjust with the modern women. They’re most likely to suggest the woman to either become a teacher (fewer working hours) or get her to a point of being so overwhelmed at home that she ends up quitting her job. How to tell if a man and/or his family has chauvinistic tendencies? MCPs.

MCP -Symptom Number 1: Don’t cook

These bachelors don’t cook. Either they are too proud to enter the kitchen or they tell themselves that they are terrible at cooking. Guys, please stop with the excuses. Women can call your bluff. Some of these eligible bachelors say that their mother didn’t teach them or didn’t let them learn. She just told them, ‘You don’t need to learn how to cook. You just need to get married.’RED FLAG. That only means that the mother (the future mother-in-law) has male chauvinistic values, which is even more dangerous in the long run.

MCP – Symptom Number 2: Wife’s Career

Such a guy doesn’t want his wife to work after marriage or to earn more than he does. This helps the man to keep his wife ‘dependent’ on him for the money. This is an indirect way to reign in the assertiveness of his wife so that he may always have the upper hand in the relationship. Working women want freedom in making career choices. They don’t want to be told to quit their job after marriage. A friend of mine had to quit her Sales and Marketing job because her highly educated in-laws felt it was degrading.  Her MBA degree that cost her parents 40Lacs is virtually useless now. Another friend who is a qualified doctor with an MD is being asked by her family to quit her job and take care of her newborn child. A job that she got after 10 years of rigorous study.

MCP – Symptom Number 3: Upper-hand

These bachelors think that they are doing the girl a favor by marrying them. This is reflected in the smallest of things:

–           If a guy visits a girl’s matrimonial profile but waits for the girl to send him an “expression of interest”. (This indicates that she is ‘in-need’)

–          Once he approves the requests he waits for her family to call up his family.

–          However, if they have a meeting, he will be the first to call up to report his positive inclination (indicating that his approval is more crucial).

–           If they meet at a restaurant, the girl’s family has to pay the bill. They don’t even offer to pay.

–          If things are still going well, his family will want to visit the girl’s house first to have an advantage in the situation.

–           It’s always about the guy and his family having the upper hand, every step of the way.

MCP – Symptom Number 4: Inflated ego.

They can be rude with their family members, the waiter who takes their order and so on. Here’s a litmus test- If the girl says something like this, ‘Let’s talk for three months before coming to any decision about marrying each other.’ They might say ‘No’ and run away.

Having any of these symptoms indicates a much larger underlying problem that the self-dependent woman is not willing to compromise with. It is a deeply rooted set of values that can only be changed with self-realization. Only men can change that about themselves. Because the modern outspoken women you’re going to deal with in the future will not accept being treated as an inferior at any cost.  Here is an insider’s tip: replace those traits with chivalry. That should work like magic. Open doors for her. Pull out chairs for her. Carry her coat if she isn’t wearing it. Give her genuine compliments, BUT don’t use sleazy/flirty dialogues you’ve seen on Bollywood! Ugh.

It is true that not all women like chivalry. Some don’t want that ‘special’ treatment. They want to be treated ‘equal’.  But Indian women are so used to being treated badly and our society is so far behind that even chivalry would be a giant leap of progress. The next stage would be to consider women truly equal. That may take another decade or three.

In today’s world being the boy/ future groom with a decent salary no longer entitles you to any extra privileges/’respect’. These are considered as bare minimums. In fact, if you want to be ‘in demand’ the way men used to be thirty/fifty years ago, there are some additional qualities that modern girls really value. Qualities that make them swoon and want to say yes right away. Here they are:

  1. Is there more to him than his job? What can the partner contribute to the relationship through his interests and hobbies? His financial contribution is not valued as much; it is taken for granted.
  2. Is he well-traveled? If he has been abroad then hopefully his exposure level will be higher and his concept of gender equality will be more in tune with the times.
  3. Does he know how to have a good time? Or is he just a slave to the grind. Is he boring?
  4. Does he go to the gym or is he interested in any fitness related activities? (or will he turn into a pot-bellied ‘uncle’ in 5 years)
  5. Does he have an interest in music/TV/movies or is he only about sports, politics, and cars like all other guys?
  6. Does he like socializing? Eating out?
    In other words, will you be able to provide her with the Instagram of her dreams? Life, I mean life of her dreams.
  7. Is he well-read!!? Great. He can be a role model for the children. That is a *jackpot*.
  8. Does he have a progressive mindset? Has he moved ahead with the times or is he just a person with a fancy degree, a six figure income in a multi-national company? It is entirely possible that he is well traveled in addition to all the above qualities but deep down he is just a male chauvinist from an orthodox family that still believes in dowry and demands a male grandchild. Some of them don’t ask for dowry but they want the daughter-in-law to continue her work even if she is unable to keep up with household work. Even if is exhausted and close to a breakdown. Do they want her to take minimal leave during maternity so that she continues to bring in her paycheck? Is he from a family that wants the daughter-in-law to behave and follows the exact traditions his mother did thirty years ago? Do they want the daughter-in-law to conform to traditions like Sindoor and Mangal Sutra which were created to indicate male dominance/ownership? Did you say- it is to fend off men ogling on the street? As if that’s ever stopped them. If so, then he should look for the meek suppressed girl. The good news is that they still make that version too. There are girls who are educated, who work 9 to 5 and come home to take care of all household chores as if they were housewives. I wonder if that is exactly what old-fashioned Indian men want out of their marriage today.
  9. Ultimately, the biggest question is – Is he a man? LOL. I mean, is he a man or a mama’s boy? How mature is he? Can he take a stand? Can he make his own decisions? This one point has equal weight as all of the above points combined. If so, he will be able to bridge that gap between a modern girl and a traditional family. He needs to spearhead this project. He needs to foresee potential problems, differences in opinions and be that mediator, that point of contact.  I feel that marriage is the true coming of age in Indian culture. Until then, they are just boys who have a job in a career that their folks influenced them to get into. Marriage is the time when a son becomes the new head of the family. This is the ONE decision that the man and woman need to take on their own, while keeping everyone’s happiness in mind.  If you can find an independent thinker who questions Indian hypocritical social structures, if he can make his own rules in a society which is in a state of flux, if he has a good head on his shoulders, you are sorted. Be it an arranged marriage or a love marriage. That’s the true jackpot.

‘A modern girl with traditional values’ was the most common phrase I came across while browsing through hundreds of profiles while I was looking for a match on matrimonial websites. It always left me perplexed. It sounds like someone is asking for a cup of tea that is boiling hot and ice cold at the same time. What does such a girl look like? Dress like? How does she behave? Is she mild or bold? She has to be full of contradictions. Let me try to detail this out.

–  She can have a 9 to 5 job. It is OK if she wears a business suit to work if that is what her job requires. All of this makes her and the boy’s family ‘modern’  in the sense that she is ‘allowed’ to work.  But, in addition to the business suit she needs to wear sindoor, mangal sutra, a huge chura (two dozen red bangles), paayal and toe rings. This makes her traditional. *Best of east and west, amirite, ladies?*
Disclaimer – I have nothing against these items of jewelry. In fact, I love Aishwarya’s look as Jodha Bai in Jodha Akbar. Bring on the bling! Some women even LOVE wearing this fusion to work. My complaint refers to what these items ‘symbolize’ to the society.

– She covers her head while in the presence of elders. This makes her traditional and cultured.

–  She shouldn’t drink/hang out with men/ wear short clothes or attend late night parties. In other words, keep her under ‘control’. The extent of these expectation varies greatly from family to family depending on the religious values and status in society. Upper classes are more relaxed about these things, some of them encourage all this to flaunt their ‘forward thinking attitude’.

–  She may be a highly qualified career woman but she must not talk back to her in-laws or elders even if their views are outdated and orthodox. To give you an example, there is usually a difference of opinion about how much weight should an expecting woman gain, how much she should eat, etc. My friend would argue with her mother-in-law about this daily. It was the prime cause of stress and disagreement throughout her pregnancy.

As you can see, I am still struggling to understand this phrase in its entirety, ‘a modern girl with traditional values’. Does it mean:
job + household work + be a mom = additional income + no time for self + no partying + no excessive shopping + no perks that come from having that income.

There is the classic gap between expectations and reality of what people are looking out for and what they ultimately find. I think this is the reason why: progressive families have provided their daughter’s the liberty to be ambitious, self-dependent but traditional families have continued to pamper their sons with a sense of entitlement. As a result, these young men are not willing to yield the power/control that their future wife has been brought up to expect as normal.

I may come across as a strong supporter of women’s rights. But I also have great empathy for millennial Indian men. These men still want to hold on to the concepts of life at home that they have seen while growing up. The mother had to take care of housekeeping, child rearing and other such activities, even if she had a job. They have the image of their mother preparing and serving food three times a day while their dad read the newspaper or watched TV or just lazed around. That is a not how couples of happy future homes will look like. Responsibilities will have to be shared by both partners. These men have grown up to realize that their value system is outdated, that their upbringing, their definition of a happy home needs an upgrade and that they have to write the updated software on their own, one day at a time. They have to set that example for future generations. It has to be especially tiresome for a guy of 30+yrs whose mom packs his lunch and does his laundry.

The guy’s side of the story. While a girl gives up a lot when she gets married, the guy also has to add a new member to the family. He and his family have to live with this new person every day. They also have fears, apprehensions. What if she is a trouble maker? What if she spoils the peace of the family? No family is perfect. Will she accept his family members, who are just as uniquely-flawed as everyone in her own family? How will she deal with conflicts?

It is definitely a tough world for boys and girls who are looking for a happy and stable married life. In-laws who are not willing to adapt with the changing times will have to let go of the kind of control that their in-laws had on them and try to have as little interference as possible. Otherwise, there will be unhappiness. On a daily basis. Chronic unhappiness – due to differences in opinion – the worst unhappiness there is. But the good news is that there are plenty of mature and self-assured men who don’t consider women as inferior. At the same time, there are meek women who expect the male partner to call the shots about everything.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could be sure of the kind of person we are and the kind of person you want BEFORE we start looking? But this is a process of discovery and you can have that bittersweet fruit of self-knowledge only at the end of this scavenging experience. You will have to say no to multiple people. And, multiple people will say no to you. Rejection is never easy but you have to trust that struggle.

Remember, saying NO to the wrong one is easy, saying YES to the right one is tough. Don’t be afraid to say No to the wrong ones. You need an extra shot courage to say no the ‘kinda-right’ ones. The kinda-right ones can do the most damage and are the hardest to say no to. It can physically split your brain into pieces. But remember, some red flags reveal themselves only AFTER you say yes. So there are no shortcuts here too. “Perhaps the story you finish is never the one you begin.”-Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children.

You have to THINK LONG TERM. It’s OK to say no and close this once for all than live with regret each day of your life. By saying no to an incompatible person/family, you are doing yourself, your family, him and his family and your future children a huge favor. You’re saving everyone from unending arguments, anxiety, headache, venting over the phone to your family, friends, colleagues, verbal fights, unhappy children and possible divorce.  It is super important that you have the patience to hang on until you find the person who is just right for you. Not perfect. Just right.


Source: Unknown. This is in a spirit of good fun. No harm or insult is intended.

On a chain of beautiful deserted islands in the middle of South Pacific, the following people are stranded:
Two Italian men and one Italian woman.
Two German men and one German woman.
Two Greek men and one Greek woman.
Two Chinese men and one Chinese woman.
Two American men and one American woman.


Two Indian men and one Indian woman.

One month later, on these absolutely stunning deserted islands in the middle of nowhere, the following things have occurred:

One Italian man killed the other Italian man for the Italian woman.

The two German men have a strict weekly schedule of alternating visits with the German woman.

The two Greek men are sleeping together and the Greek woman is cooking and cleaning for them.

The two Chinese men have set up a pharmacy, restaurant, and laundry, and have gotten the woman pregnant in order to supply more employees for their stores.

The two American men are contemplating suicide because the American woman complains relentlessly about her body, what the sun is doing to her skin, how sand and palm trees make her look fat, the true nature of feminism, how she can do anything they can do, the necessity of fulfillment, the equal division of household chores, how her last boyfriend respected her opinion and treated her nicer than they do, and how her relationship with her mother is the root cause of all her problems, and why didn’t they bring a damn cell phone so they could call 911 and get them all rescued off this forsaken deserted island in the middle of freaking nowhere so she can get her nails done and go shopping.


The two Indian men are waiting for someone to introduce them to the Indian woman.


Have you tried looking for a life partner online? Did you give up? Are you still trying?

If you are single, genuinely interested in finding a life partner and are open to the idea of looking for one online, then this will be especially helpful to you. Having been through the experience myself, I am writing for people who are looking for a partner, on their own, through a matrimonial website. I was one of those people, only six months ago and this is an insider account of my journey and my misadventures. After going through this ‘ordeal’, I wanted to share the things that I wish I had known before starting out.  I hope it can help you and make this intimidating task a little simpler. I also want to share with you a fact that I know for sure: it is possible to find a great match online. For real.

If you had or will have a love marriage, congratulations! You saved yourself and your family a lot of headache. You probably faced some challenges of your own. Ever wondered about what hassles you have avoided?

If you had an arranged marriage and said yes to the first person you met/saw, then that’s awesome too! Lucky You! This will entertain you and inform you about what happens to people who couldn’t say yes to the first proposal they came across.

Not thinking about marriage right now? Great! At least you are clear about it. There is something you should know about what will happen if you postpone this life choice. You should definitely read this!!

Before we begin, grab some popcorn, something to drink; this is going to get exciting!

(But, if you are at work, just carry on reading in stealth mode and pretend to work. 😉 )



  • You are single.
  • You have scanned your friend circle, extended friend circle and your acquaintances at college, university and work.
  • Your relatives have suggested matches they felt were terrific but you only found them terrible.
  • Once, you actually found someone who you felt had a real chance with, but for some reason it just ‘didn’t work out’.
  • You are not in love right now.
  • Even after all your efforts and waiting, you still haven’t found ‘the one’ to marry.

‘Just one person, God! How can it be so hard?’

Somehow, you just can’t seem to find that ONE person!

At times, it can be so deeply frustrating.

Every passing birthday may not worry you personally, but the news of your friends getting married definitely worries your mom! And God forbid if your ‘best friend’ gets married before you!! Your life consists of worry, parental pressure, emotional blackmail from grandparents, being the source of office gossip, concern of friends and the occasional despair. All said and done, you are still single.

Suddenly a rational side of you tells you, ‘if I find everything I need online, maybe I could find my partner online too.’ Promptly (or eventually) you sign up on a website like:,,, etc. But your initial experience may have been so bad, so unexpected that it made you want to deactivate your account right away. Maybe you have already deactivated it. And now have ‘horror’ stories about your online experiences to ‘entertain’ your friends with. Signing up online was your last option anyway. You never even thought you would have to resort to that. Now you have run out of places to look and whether you know it or not, you are constantly running out of time.

Sometimes it makes you wonder:


Now, when you sign up for a matrimonial website, you have some expectations.

You are obviously there to look for ‘the one’ or be found by ‘the one’. ASAP.

After you overcome the initial shock of how detailed your profile needs to be, you churn out the answers. You ask your family about details you probably don’t know like family lineage (gothra) , astrological details, etc.

You upload a photo  (blurrred, or with filters, for privacy reasons) if at all.

Then you wait for the right people to show up.


But the very first people who approach you are very very different from what you expect. They are usually :-

  • PARENTS who are handling their child’s profile. The ‘child’ is not looking/not ready/least interested or maybe even in a relationship (but hasn’t told the parents about it). These parents can call you the very next day of making your profile. Watch out! It may totally catch you unaware! Excited by the parent’s enthusiasm, you agree to talk to the ‘child’. But it usually fizzles out the minute you talk to the disinterested or unconvinced ‘child’. HOW IT MAKES YOU FEEL: SUPER ANNOYED + A ROYAL WASTE OF TIME!
  •  DESPERATE people who make their own profile but are way past the ‘ideal age’ for (Indian) marriage say 31+. They know that they have to make efforts to get married because everyone including their parents has given up on them. They are out of all excuses and openly admit that finding someone online is their only bet. These people could call you the very day you make your profile, stalk you, coax you into saying yes and later pester you with: ‘at least tell me the reason why you are saying no’. HOW IT MAKES YOU FEEL: ANXIOUS. CAUTIOUS.
  • ‘SMART MEN’ who do not want to get married and just (ab)use these websites as a medium to meet single women and start a fling. Ladies, beware of such people! They will send you an ‘expression of interest’ and will be eager to meet you in person right away.  They sound excited, therefore are hard to spot as freaks/weirdos when you are new to the process. HOW IT MAKES YOU FEEL: SCARED. VULNERABLE. HOPELESS.

Such ‘misadventures’ are very common early on in the game. They are sufficient to disappoint any normal person and make them drop the whole idea of matrimonial websites. At this point, most people get discouraged quickly and give up on it, only a few stay on to brave the storm.

If you still have an active online profile, then you are one of those brave people. Kudos! You are not alone in your online search for a partner. Literally. There are thousands of others just like you. And that is both good news and bad. Good because it increases your chances of coming across the right person. And equally bad because you have to sift through a hoard of unsuitable people who are not really ‘ready’ and are infesting these matrimonial sites, wasting your time and causing significant wastage of opportunity cost. This is why it is so hard to find a partner online:

When you look for something on the internet, Google helps you filter out the results on the basis of relevance, but when you are looking for a partner on a website you have to sort through the ‘search results’ on your own. These websites do list ‘preferred match’ on top based on compatibility of your requirements. If you are able to find someone from within those 10-15 profiles then that is great. However, my experience was different. I had to dig deeper.


By now:

  • You have stopped waiting for the one to show up miraculously in your life.
  • You have a genuine desire to make efforts to look for the one.
  • You have a degree of mutual trust with your family that considers you mature enough to look for a partner.
  • You think you know what you want and some of you might even have an ‘unwritten’ list of expectations from your future partner.


Growing up, I always thought I would have a love marriage. But by the time I went over the cusp of marriageable age for women (23 to 26 yrs. of age*), I had not found ‘the one’; neither at school/college/workplace nor at any activity groups including libraries, theater, volunteering, gyms, art exhibitions, music concerts, travelling alone, backpacking; you name it.

This was a mixed blessing. On one hand, I gained tremendous exposure to the world; on the other it raised my expectations from my future partner drastically.( Unrealistic Expectations: A major problem tween – age women face today. Read more about the demands of the modern independent Indian woman here.<hyperlink> )

‘*’ IMVHO, Based on the most common ‘desired partner age’ as per my friends and my own experience.

Initially pulled in because of the music, I had also explored the world of partying long enough to have met the No.1 DJ in the world: Armin Van Buuren (just bragging :P) and to know that the person I was specifically looking for was not likely to be found there. So partying was no longer an option/distraction/waste of time and waste of beauty sleep.

My friends and relatives had no more contacts to suggest to me.

After having no success in finding a suitable partner in my immediate surroundings (my academic setup, my circle of friends and my work environment) I had three realizations:-

  1. I will have to step out of my comfort zone and put myself in a position to be discovered by people I could consider for marriage. (Unhappy realization!)
  2. I will have to broaden my search domain and look elsewhere. (But where?!)
  3. I need to question some expectations because they were holding me back. (Compromise!!!? NO WAYYYYY.)

‘Where on earth is the kind of men I seek! I wondered. Just like most other things in my life, my first instinct was to find the answers in books. I substituted fiction and classics for ‘HOW TO’ books. I chose to swap lofty ideals of love and upbeat optimism of rom-coms with a solid reality check. I picked up books with titles like, ‘1001 Places to Meet Mr. Right’, ‘You lost him at hello- close the deal with any man you want’,  which left me agape, partly cynical but SUPER CURIOS!

My curiosity took me to shopping malls, bookstores, gyms, etc. to ‘look’ for my partner. Call me desperate, but I was really really curious to see if the tips and tricks in these books would work! My friends thought I was being hyper about all this, they told me “Just be yourself and the person will find you himself, when the time is right!’. But, I was convinced that if I went to the right places, the right man/men would come up to me (which never happened, by the way). A  close childhood friend told me much later, ‘You look so serious and studious that I would be scared to even approach you in public.’ Ouch! Also, now that I think of it, I feel that decent Indian men (husband material) don’t really approach stranger women in random places that often.  So maybe the tips by these foreign authors weren’t really valid for the Indian setup. (READ JOKE ABOUT THIS HERE). My husband would have NEVER approached me in a mall. EVER. I mean what was I thinking!

With no luck in my immediate surroundings, I grumpily decided to set up my profile online.

It took major effort to admit ‘defeat’ in finding love ‘naturally’. Acknowledging that I would have an arranged marriage was the hardest part. Almost like the death of hope. I know it sounds dramatic, but that is how I had felt at that time. But, I told myself that if I could look for a job, a university, even a house online then I should definitely try my luck at a matrimonial websites. I felt that it was just an alternate medium of search; only the platform was different from physical search.

A close friend of mine took 6 months to gather the courage to set up her online profile. I used to chide her, encourage her without any success. But now I know for sure that it is much better to start the search when one is internally ready for it. That way, you are doing yourself and everyone else a favor. HOW?

You don’t waste other people’s time by making them wait for your response.

Let’s say that your rational mind helped you overcome the initial hurdle (of signing up) and now you are ready to set up your profile.


Isn’t it amazing how detailed those profile questions are? It asks you questions that even you hadn’t asked yourself! But this is the only medium available to express yourself. If you have a problem in expressing yourself through the written word…then sadly, you are at a great disadvantage. Writing things like these just doesn’t help:

  1. I am what I am. You can know me when you meet me.
  2. I am an open book, funny and jovial.  (and that’s all you have to say about yourself)
  3. ‘It is hard to talk about oneself. But…’

It doesn’t show humility. It shows lack of self-awareness and really does nothing for the reader; who has no other way to form a first impression about you. You may be a wonderful human being but the person looking at your profile may just move on to a more detailed and specifc description. You can ask a friend who knows you well enough to write for you. I have edited the profiles of many of my good friends. I would also be happy to help you, if possible.<Feel free to ask me!>


  • Obviously we all know that a good profile picture makes a big difference on Facebook. Why should it be any different for a matrimonial profile? I confess that I have passed on many profiles that seemed wonderful to read but the depressing photos discouraged me. After seeing thousands of photos, here are some Do’s and Don’ts regarding the profile picture, which I have summarized. These are different from the general guidelines on the website. Those are useful too!
  • Do upload your photo. It is of prime importance. Don’t worry about your friends/acquaintances finding out about your profile. They will only be happy to attend your wedding later on, if you do invite them. 😛
  • Do put pics in which you are looking your best. Just as you would on your FB profile.
  • Don’t put photos any older than 6 months, definitely not from college days when you were in better shape, had glowing skin and had a better hairline. It can help catch people’s attention at first but not hold it for long.
  • Don’t upload photos clicked in the studio. It is just so passé.  Also, it might backfire when you meet in person. ‘You look very different from the photo’ Ouch!
  • At the same time, don’t upload casual ‘selfies’ from your laptop that probably highlight your dark circles and disheveled hair. Once I Skyped with a guy whose bloodshot eyes scared me the moment I saw him. Apparently, he hadn’t slept the night before. He had been partying and then travelling, but he liked my profile sooooooo much that he couldn’t wait to chat with me. Honestly, I was scared not flattered. Never spoke to him again.
  • Give people an opportunity to see a photo of you at your recent best. People like to imagine what you would look like at your best, dressed up in formals. They might imagine showing off their future partner to relatives and friends at family functions.
  • Do click photos outdoors on a sunny day or in warm yellow light. It is more flattering than indoor photos in the fluorescent lights (tubelights).
  • Do add only those photos that show your real complexion. (You don’t want to be told when you meet them in person that ‘you look much darker than the photos’)
  • Girls: Please no duck face selfies. If you think I am wrong, then you are too young and should wait a few years before looking for a husband.
  • Guys: don’t wear sunglasses in every photo! It is OK in one photo at max. Also, not every photo has to have you wearing a jacket and a baseball cap and sunglasses!
  • Do care about the background. Girls: No messy bedroom please. Boys: Don’t put pics of leaning against other peoples cars. (I would have never included this as a separate point, had I not come across hundreds of such photos) #epidemic
  • If you put four photos from college days and the fifth photo shows your recent condition with a receding hairline, a promising beer belly and general signs of ageing, don’t think that people will not be able to see the decline in your attractiveness! That’s just life. Make peace with it. Also, try adding more antioxidants to your diet like green tea etc.


If you ever feel that:

you are a good person, worthy of love and companionship

you have the same mental and biological age (you act your age)

you come from a normal decent family

you have a respectable job

and you are single, for no apparent reason then this could be the biggest hidden problem. The problem you didn’t know you had.

You need to be in good shape. It is a whole different discussion, but it is very important. It cannot be stressed enough. I personally know of many people who would be a great match for one of my friends, but I held myself back from suggesting them because of weight issues. It is very sad and it breaks my heart. And the same goes for other problems that can be solved, like skin issues. Please see a doctor. No excuses.

People you call friends and family may be too nice to say it to your face, but you do need to sort out these two issues. Bad skin and excessive weight definitely create road blocks on your way to marriage. At this point, we can get into an ethical discussion about how beauty is not skin deep and physical appearance is superficial. No one will look at physical aspects in old age? People will look worse at age 50 or 60.  There are more important things like respect, care, loyalty, trust, etc. and after we are done arguing about this, I am still going to give some tough love and say- Please get in shape! NO excuses! Also, it really will make you healthier and it is for your own good. WIN WIN!


 STEP 1: Filling in your profile.

You feel amazed at how detailed the profile needs you to be. You do some thinking, some soul searching.  Maybe you haven’t written anything of this kind since your 10+2 English exam but somehow you churn out things to write about yourself and your family. You even manage to write about what you want from your future partner. You follow every word of the insightful do’s and don’ts I mentioned <above> and even get <your best photos> uploaded. After that, you expect ‘interests’ to pour in from the PERFECT people. But that doesn’t always happen. You get some interests but they are not the kind of people you were expecting.

MISTAKE #1: Waiting, instead of actively looking out.

STEP 2: Searching for profiles

A few days/weeks later, you figure out that you need to send some ‘expressions of interests’ yourself. So, you <set up your search filters> and over thousand profiles show up! Feeling excited, you scroll through a few. Then, you do what you usually do with any Google search: look at the first few links/pages until your patience runs out and all the profiles start looking similar to you.

MISTAKE #2: Losing patience with the search results.

You have to put in the hours to look through ALL the pages, not just a few profiles, if you are really serious about this. Just because a person is on the 6th page doesn’t mean he is any less suitable. If I remember correctly, the profile of my husband was on the 16th page of my search results.

STEP 3: Sending out ‘expressions of interest’

You start taking profiles more seriously, you ‘shortlist’ and send interests to maybe the first three people you really liked.

Then you wait for those people to accept your interest.

 MISTAKE #3: Having unrealistic expectations.

Forgetting that this is real life, even if the medium is virtual is a common mistake beginners make. Believing that you can be with anyone YOU want and that your ‘interest’ in them is sufficient for them to like you just as much as you like them is the same as having unrequited feelings: It happens to the best of us.

Step 4: Waiting for people to respond.

At this point, you start checking your profile as regularly as you check social media/Facebook, for any ‘positive development’. A few weeks later you realize that the people YOU liked have not replied. And you begin to wonder about what’s wrong.

Well, they might not have logged on to their profile in the last week.

Or their parent might not have logged on.

Or they haven’t logged on for the last 3 months! ‘last online activity: 2 months ago’!

Maybe they are already married and just didn’t bother to deactivate their profile.

Maybe they weren’t ready for marriage, just made a profile for the fun of it.

Maybe their friend made their profile as a prank!

Maybe they are of the superstitious kind and will log in only after a certain date like lohri or holi etc.

But, then there is this other person who ‘viewed’ your profile and still didn’t reply.

Why didn’t they reply? Why are they keeping you waiting!? Why can’t they just say yes or no.

What did you do wrong??

MISTAKE #4: Expecting excellent output with mediocre input.

You believed that one out of the three people YOU liked will accept your interest. You assumed that the Reply/Response Ratio was as awesome as 1:3. If that had been the case, if your odds were seriously that good, chances are that you would have already found that one person in college or through common friends or at work. But probably, that ratio is not going to work for you.

I went through a similar experience and I had no major luck for 5 weeks into the process. My parents got a few phone calls from interested people but nothing ‘amazing’ happened. I spoke to a guy on the phone, but we didn’t click. Also, I can admit now, I didn’t really know how/what to talk about! It felt so weird and artificial! That first phone call is so AWKWARD. Some people have a list of specific questions and some people just like to talk in general to get a sense of how they feel. The first call I attended was of a very practical, mature and frank person. He had his questions ready. I hadn’t even thought about those topics! By the end of that phone call, I am sure he thought I was a kiddo who didn’t know what she wanted from marriage and from life. It was all so new to me!

Here is a USEFUL TIP# Don’t waste your first phone call on someone you really like! Get a hang of it with someone you feel neutral about because it does take some practice to get comfortable with the whole idea of ‘consciously talking to a stranger who might become your life partner one day’.

Since no one I liked had responded to me, I became disinterested. Usually quick to jump to conclusions, I lost faith in this method entirely. I stopped logging in. Probably my page showed, ‘Last online: 5 weeks ago’. Now, I was guilty of keeping interested people waiting!


A few days later, a radical thought made me change my approach entirely.

I realized that it was a number game, a game in which I didn’t even know what my odds for success were. All I knew was that it wasn’t 1:3.

Finding a partner online is a game made uniquely for you, in which you don’t know what your lucky strike is until you go through them one at a time. Was it one to 50? One to 100? One to 500? One to 1500? It’s the internet after all, the place where too much choice overwhelms us instead of empowering us.

This filled me with fresh enthusiasm. I accepted the challenge of sorting through the profiles on my own and spent time on it daily after work. I decided to read through each profile seriously instead of dismissing them right away or mocking the filmy clichés used in the description. BTW I feel some Indian men watch way too many Bollywood movies for their own good. Most profiles were either too unrealistic, filmy like a Bollywood romance or too factual like a resume!

Based on my ‘rigid’ search filters, I had the task of going through about 1700 probable matches. I took over charge from my parents and personally read through those profiles. After shortlisting many profiles and sharing the shortlisted profiles with my parents, I sent out about 100 interests. I waited for the responses and in the meanwhile started processing the ‘interests’ that I was receiving.

USEFUL TIP# Sending more interests out helps you to not to fixate on one profile too much.

STEP 5: Processing the replies.

In the next two weeks, I got a total of 30 replies. The rest of the people had either not viewed the ‘interest’ or had ‘viewed profile’ but mysteriously, they did not click ‘decline’. While some people think that it is rude to decline, others probably wanted to ‘save me for later’, in case things didn’t go well with whomever they were ‘in talks with’ at the moment.  Either ways, it was very irritating to be left in the dark by such people. Needless to say, my feelings of congeniality towards such people declined steadily as time went by. I don’t think I spoke to any of these people who put me on hold and contacted me later on. With that lesson learnt, I also promptly sorted all the ‘interests’ I had received into ‘accept’ and ‘decline’. I stopped putting people on hold.

USEFUL TIP:  Don’t keep people waiting. It is probably better to say ‘No’ in a week’s time.

Out of the 30 people who replied, 10 people ‘declined’ based on the profile. Some of these were people who I had actually liked and I had hoped that they would respond positively.  It felt bad. Getting a ‘No’ from someone you like even if you haven’t met them is hard. I also felt that it was unfair. That really makes you wonder why the other person said no. There can be so many reasons, that it is a waste of time to even try thinking about it. At the same time, I was also ‘declining’ interests extensively. We even got a call from the matrimonial website asking why we haven’t accepted even one interest yet! Just like people ‘declined’ me, I was declining hundreds of others too! In hindsight, I thank those people who did not keep me waiting. They did me a favor after all.

I know of a LOT of friends who chose to give up after getting a few No’s from the people they approached. Did it help their case? Not one bit. In this case, remind yourself ‘Don’t give up. Normally it is the last key on the ring that opens the door’, Manuscript found in Accra by Paulo Coelho.

USEFUL TIP:  Don’t let rejections discourage you. Fail fast to succeed sooner.

Instead, try to imagine this: you are a famous celebrity and you want to meet your co-star who is at the other end of the hall. But your path is blocked by fans (obstacles) that adore you and want to talk to you. And, the only way to get to your co-star is by dealing with each of those ‘fans’, one at a time. This approach helped me get through. I also used to say that my ‘svayamvar’ is on! Do you have a similar analogy that helps you get through? <Share it!>

After two months of setting up the profile and putting in most of my spare time, I could see the odds shaping up.

I was left with 20 ‘probable’ people out of a list of 100 from a filtered pool of 1700 profiles.

I will share those unique experiences with each of those people in detail as we go along. Undoubtedly, each experience taught me something different.  But first, let me share with you the single most important thing I learnt from it all. If there is anything to be gained out of this, this is it:

The search for a partner online is a process. It takes time and it has three very distinct phases:

The initiation – the beginner

The middle phase – the intermediate

The final phase – of reality check, maturity, clarity

 This is an unavoidable process. When you are in it, you will go through each of these phases. And each person you meet will be in one of these phases too. Most of the people you will meet will be in the beginner or intermediate phase. Very few people you meet will be in the final phase.  That is because people in the final stage don’t remain single for long. So when you are ready and you come across a person who is also just about ready, you will have found your partner. It is a matter of time,but only if you are making requisite efforts.

There is also a bonus miracle involved here.


The miracle of self-discovery.


As you go through ‘enough’ number of people, you begin to reevaluate your priorities and expectations.

You come across people who seemed right on paper but ‘Oh So Wrong’ in real life.

On the other hand, someone has a trait that you hadn’t thought of but it totally enchants you.

Only going through these experiences will help you come up with a list of things that you want and definitely don’t want in your partner. In the beginning, you don’t know what you don’t know. For some of us, the search then becomes more a process of elimination rather than a process of selection.



Generally, a beginner will be very raw in how they express themselves. Just like a 3 year old who expresses his feelings of like, want or disgust instantly, their basic feeling towards marriage will be very evident. Some might be over enthusiastic, too eager to please, put their best foot forward, others might be too cynical and totally unconvinced about marriage, yet other might show signs of immaturity in the first 10 seconds. Any given way, there will be clear signs that they are not ready for THE PROCESS yet.

Usually, their parents are handling the account and they prefer to speak to your parents first. They get surprised if they find out that you are handling your own matrimonial profile. Chances are high that their own child has not consented to the idea of marriage and these tech-savvy parents are using the online medium as an alternative to newspaper ads. But they still have orthodox notions about ‘arranged’ marriage.  When and if you do get the contact details of their ‘child’ they are:

  1. They will take over a week to get in touch with you or to reply to your email/message, if they do reply at all.
  2. They don’t want to meet in person or talk over the phone. They want to chat online first. (Why? It is safe, distant, allows time to manipulate answers, or to run away midway from the chat. It is the lowest form of contact.)
  3. When they chat, at a time suitable to them, they may ask you things like: ‘Why marriage? Life is lived better alone. I like being 100% independent.’
  4. They ask you things like, ‘What is the meaning of finding the ‘right person’? Is there such a thing?’
  5. ‘How can anyone spend all their life with one person?’
  6. Or they ask you irrelevant things first such as, ‘Are you into sports? Oh you like running? ‘What is your best running time?’
  7. ‘Why do you want to get married, you have a lot of time?’
  8. In the first conversation they say, ‘I think we should talk for a few months before coming to any kind of conclusion. Both of us have a long time before we get married. Seriously, no one gets married at 26 these days!’
  9. In the first conversation, they start talking about their past relationship to find out about yours. Then they say, ‘It doesn’t matter to me at all, but I feel it is important to know everything about our past in detail.’
  10. ‘My parents just made this profile, you are the first person I am meeting, I would like to meet 2- 3 other people before I tell you how I feel about you.’ – This masterstroke can be conveyed directly or indirectly.
  11. They can try to manipulate you, ‘Why do we need a time frame to decide? Why do you want to get married in the next six months? Why have you given yourself a deadline? ’
  12.  ‘I would like us to meet 5- 6 times over a span of 2 months in order to be able to come to a decision. I need to fall in love with a person before I can think about marrying them.’
  13. The vulnerable ones say, ‘To be honest with you, in my head, I am like a little kid. Are you ready to take care of me?’ or ‘I’ve been pampered all my life.’

These tween-age ‘kids’ who are either forced to talk to you by their parents or talking to you out of curiosity make it your job to convince them about the importance of marriage. They will ask you the question, ‘Why do you want to get married?’ in so many different forms that you might start doubting your own motives!

On the other hand, the best kinds are the people who know that they are not ready for marriage and stay out of the arena entirely. I respect such people on the account of their self-awareness. At least they are clear about what they want and don’t want at the moment. They are not cluttering matrimonial websites with their immaturity, doubts, confusions or speeches about youth, self-sufficiency and independence.

How to deal with THE BEGINNER

If you see any signs mentioned above, you will have to decide whether you want to bring them up, waste your precious time trying to change or develop their perspective.  Tough luck if you choose the latter because anything you tell them will sound like vested advice to them.

The tough but easy decision is to move on from such people quickly before they have a chance to make you uncomfortable by being mean/impolite/rude/hostile to you.

Also, inform them as politely as possible about the real reason why you don’t want to continue the conversation because these people are in need of a feedback.  It will only contribute to their transition on to the next stage. You will be doing them a favor.

I wish I had known about this when I was looking for a partner came across similar people. I had a usefull tip for each one of the people I stopped talking to, but I never gave them the feedback that could have actually helped them. I thought I was being polite. I was wrong.

Initially, when I got feedback from the people I spoke to, I felt humiliated! But in hindsight, I can say that it helped me grow up one step at a time.


In contrast to ‘the Beginner’ who is not even sure if they want to get married, there are people who are way too desperate to get married. In my experience, people who are usually desperate are the ones who have waited too long before thinking about marriage. It may be because:

  • they were too busy working on their career,
  • they waited too long for a relationship that didn’t end in marriage
  • they have a dysfunctional family- too dominating a mother usually scares a good match away!
  • they have some rigid notions about their religion or rituals  and especially astrology and horoscope that limit their choices significantly.
  • they are so picky that it is borderline impossible to find someone worthy of them
  • they have a rough patch in their history like an unfortunate divorce or an annulled marriage.

But now:

These people are under major family pressure or peer pressure.

Maybe all their friends are married and they are the only one left single.

Or they have a younger sibling who is in line and is waiting for them to get married.

Or they have senior family member who wants to attend the wedding before leaving for heaven.

Sometimes there is nothing ‘wrong’ with them except that they are emotional fools and it really takes them a long time to mature. They might have had a series of unfortunate relationships.

Scarred and still as immature, they just run out of time for romance. Then they turn into desperate people falling back on Plan B: arranged marriage.


  1. These desperate people will seek you out, probably the day you sign up for an account.
  2. They will call you and tell you a lot about themselves even before you ask them.
  3. They will be extra nice, will compliment your profile and put in visible extra effort in their ‘pitch’.
  4. They will have answers to all your questions ready. They will have polite questions ready for you, knowing fully well what topics they should stay away from.
  5.  You will have a wonderful conversation on the phone. You will get the first impression that things are going great and maybe this is ‘the one’!
  6. They may have taken very little time between sending you a request to calling you and asking you to meet up.
  7. You might feel that things are going too fast. ‘It could be beginner’s luck!’  you tell yourself. But that is a red flag you need to look out for. Try to postpone the meeting and observe their reaction because any delay will bother them a lot.
  8. If you do meet them in person, go prepared, because ‘the catch’ might be revealed to you:

‘Actually, I am manglik*, but I did not write it in my profile because I wanted you to get to know me first.’ (*an astrological impediment)

‘I have realized that the time is right to get married’. (TRUTH: They are way over 30 and have no single friends left)!

‘I wanted to meet you in person first because I wanted to tell you that I was in a 4 year long relationship. I was cheated on but now I am over it. We broke up 4 years ago’. Then they continue to talk about that relationship for the rest of the meeting much to your frustration. Some people never move on. They probably do this every time they meet someone and their sob story drives people away.

Some might even call up your parents directly and impress them for an hour with their talk only to add right in the end, ‘Actually, aunty I had an annulled marriage.’

Often, their desperation is more visible after you have said no. They are most likely to give you a counter argument for whatever you tell them to try and convince you. They may say things like:

  1. ‘Why do you need more time to decide? What more do you want to know about me? I have told you everything about me.’
  2. ‘Marriage is a matter of chance. There is no way of knowing more about me than what I told you. And I told you everything!’
  3. ‘Do you believe in love at first sight? Normally I don’t, but the minute I saw your profile, I was blown away. You are exactly the kind of person I want in my life. I don’t believe in arranged marriage and I feel I am in love with you. Just talking to you right now, I can feel it. Who would have believed that one could find one’s soul mate through a website!!’  (TRUTH: I am turning 31 next week but that is not the reason I am using the love card to get you to say yes. OR:  I am in India for just 1 week and if you don’t say yes right now, my marriage will get delayed by one year!!)
  4. ‘I am very picky. Trust me, I have been searching for a long time, I have rejected over 500 profiles. I have never ever come across someone like you. I am really impressed with it. I know I don’t fit into your requirements but I can assure you that we will be great together.’ (TRUTH: they are flattering someone who is way above their league)
  5. My parents trust me about my choice. They have told me that it is more important for me to decide. They have no specific requirements. (TRUTH: They have given up on their ‘child’)
  6. I don’t believe in horoscope but my parents do. But if we really get along, I think I can convince my parents to overlook minor problems. (TRUTH: Any and every issue is a non-issue if you say yes)


If their rushed manner or sense of urgency makes you uncomfortable then you should trust that instinct. You might be told by friends/relatives that, ‘When marriage happens, it happens fast.’ Do not buy that!

If their persuasive manner still makes you icky, find a solid excuse to get out and run for your life. Because they sure will chase you down. Sometimes the true nature of a desperate person is shown only after things stop going their way. These people give you a rough time especially after you have said no to them.

They will show you their true colors and say things like:

  1. I curse the day I met you.
  2. I am so mad at you that I will misuse your information and your photos. Wait and watch.
  3. The same ‘in love’ guy will definitely say : I hate you.
  4. If you could tell me at least what is wrong in me, what you didn’t like.
  5. Tell me the REAL reason. Is it because I am too old?
  6. Is it because I am not earning enough?
  7. Do you think I am a loser?
  8. Is it because of my family?
  9. If you did not like something about me, tell me, I will change myself.


Now let’s talk about progressing from the beginner phase to the next one.

They have understood that they will have to go through a whole lot of people. They start talking to different people more frequently. In this phase, most people are reassessing and adjusting their priorities and self-image, without even knowing it. And most importantly, ..( drumroll please…..) they have bought ‘Paid Membership’ to the website!!

  1. By now, they probably have met with the brashness of a beginner and the badgering of a desperado among a few other normal people.
  2. They have had a few rejections and have rejected a few people too.
  3. They are in the process of finding out what works for them, what, how and when to say things, what topics to keep for later.
  4. How to carry themselves, where to meet and what not to wear when meeting for the first time.
  5. By now, they KNOW that they are in the process and it will need time and effort, but they are not exactly putting in their best effort just yet.
  6. They take the time to look at the profiles forwarded to them by their parents without delays, excuses.
  7. They normally start to tone down whatever they have to say and shape their opinions into the form of questions. Any certainty and rigidity they had as a beginner is starting to melt away. They are probably going to say things like:

I.            ‘I used to think I need to talk to a person for at least six months before saying yes, but right now I don’t know if it is better to trust my gut feeling about the first two meetings and go with my first instinct.’

II.            ‘So, do you want me to work after marriage or stay at home?’ (Usually, the girl asks this question) instead of directly saying: I want to work after marriage and I’m an independent person.

III.            ‘When do you realistically see yourself getting married? ‘

IV.            ‘Do you want a long courtship or a short one?’


Trust your gut. Approach positively but be cautious.People in this phase can be very dangerous because they are not really sure about their requirements and these people are the ones most likely to rush into or be rushed into saying yes.

By now, they just know what not to do/say for the conversation to continue with someone they like. But they are not EXACTLY sure about what they want and don’t want.They still might not have a written list of expectations and are just going with the flow.So, if things seem to be going well, they might just say yes to the next ‘nice’ normal person they meet.TAKE YOUR TIME and let the other person take their own time before deciding.

It is 1000 times better to marry the right person later than marrying the wrong person today.

It is generally advised to talk to a person for 90 days before reaching any conclusion. But it depends on the maturity level of both people and the pressure from both families. If you can have the luxury of talking to someone for 90 days, then you will be in a much better position to make an informed decision as compared to the sudden impulse of saying ‘yes’ after the second meeting.

Normally, parents and relatives do not have any such concept and will say things like, ‘we hadn’t even seen each other before marriage’ or ‘ in our times, we said yes by looking at the person’s hands’ or  ‘when we were young, the barber used to fix up matches because he knew everyone in town’.

Those days are long gone and I pray that young couples do not succumb to saying ‘yes’ after the very first or second meeting.

Don’t let the rush of excitement or parental pressure get to you. It can be very damaging in the long run.

But after a few months into the engagement, when the excitement has subsided a little, their true personality/expectations can start showing through, including things even they didn’t know they wanted for their own selves. So many people go through broken engagements these days that it has almost become a trend. One of my main motivations to write this is to try and curb this hazard of broken engagements (rokas) which are becoming too common in India. This headache, heartache, emotional scarring is totally avoidable. ALL YOU NEED TO DO IS TO TAKE YOUR TIME!


There is no formula for when this can happen based on the months that you may have put into the search. It is dependent on the degree of exposure you have had to people. And it is dependent on how much maturity you have gained in the process.


Well, you will probably show signs of being in the following frame of mind:

  1. You know that you know what you want. You have written the important criteria down.
  2. You make major revisions to your online profile to tone down anything that you might have received negative feedback about.
  3. You are able to identify the stage in which the other person is, from the moment you send an ‘expression of interest’ based on the speed and nature of their response and the medium through which they wish to communicate.
  4. Your parents have spoken to so many parents and some proposals might have been dropped because the parents didn’t get along, but you liked the match. This is when you realize that this requires YOUR complete time and energy and no one else can do this for you. You begin surfing the said websites in your spare time and look out for people on your own. And you start shortlisting and forwarding profiles to your parents for discussion. Instead of it being the other way around.
  5. Your family members, friends and relatives have all run out of people to refer you to. Some might also harbor bad feelings about you having rejected their proposals.
  6. You are mature enough to not feel any distress upon being rejected.
  7. You know well enough not to get emotionally involved in the initial phase.
  8. You start being your true self, instead of trying to please anyone or being idealistic about life.
  9. The biggest indicator:  You have figured out the sequence in which you want to proceed after the ‘expression of interest’ has been accepted. It can vary greatly depending on family values but in one case, it can look like this:
    1. The ‘expression of interest’ has been sent and ‘accepted’.
    2. Parents from both parties talk on the phone.
    3. Then the boy and girl talk to each other on the phone. This can start with a quick email containing the phone number, an introductory Whatsapp chat and then a phone call at a predetermined time.
    4. There are times when you will drop the contact based on the chat alone. By now your instincts get sharp enough to sense the reality.
    5. If you do talk on the phone, typically a conversation will last about 45 min- 1 hr.
    6. You will be able to assess from that one call whether you want to communicate with them further. And that is the best part about reaching the final stage of the matrimonial search. By now you will clarity about:
  • What you don’t want in a partner.
  • What you are OK with based on their other merits which you hadn’t considered earlier.
  • What your family is really particular about vs. what they have a mild preference for.

This clarity of your intentions will give you the ‘relevant’ things to talk about during your first conversation. The talk will no longer feel awkward or random. This high quality information exchange will put you in a position to truly evaluate the scope of the match.

  1. If you liked talking to each other on the phone, then the next step would depend on your family values but it is becoming a common practice for the boy and girl to meet on their own first.
  2. Meeting the other person is the most important step in the whole process. If you are meeting one new person in a week, you can say that you are in the final stage of the online search process. It means that you have filtered through enough profiles to have a real chance at finding a partner through the online medium. You are very close to getting results.
  3. How long you will be in the final stage is totally dependent on your inter personal skills. If you are getting rejected too often by the kind of person YOU would have married, you really need to work on your personal skills and may be your motives.

If both people like each other after the meeting, the parents meet up at one of the residence to talk about further details and complications or clarifications until you find yourself in the roller coaster ride of the ‘grand Indian mela’ which is your own wedding.

Marriage is like a tornado that churns everything in its way your family values, budget, relationship with relatives and friends, your concepts of society and people. It is normal to feel overwhelmed with wedding preparations and doubt your decision because of the whole gamut of social, economic and emotional stresses they cause. If you and your partner-to-be and both the families concerned still manage to waddle through it, then you have made it to the other side! Congratulations!

wedding stage

About The Author

Richa brings you only the most practical, to-the-point, no-nonsense information that helps turn your house into your dream home. She has a passion for simplifying design concepts that you can actually put to use. She has a degree in Architecture, over thirty published articles, a life blog and has co-authored the bestseller 'My First Home' with Shashank Shekhar.


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