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. 😉 )
PART 1: SEARCHING FOR YOUR LIFE PARTNER ONLINE
- 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: shaadi.com, bharatmatrimony.com, jeevansathi.com, 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:
WHY IS FINDING A PARTNER ON A MATRIMONIAL WEBSITE SO TOUGH?
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.
ARRANGING YOUR OWN MARRIAGE:
- 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.
HOW I CAME ABOUT SETTING UP MY PROFILE:
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:-
- 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!)
- I will have to broaden my search domain and look elsewhere. (But where?!)
- 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.
Part 3a: WHAT NOT TO WRITE IN 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:
- I am what I am. You can know me when you meet me.
- I am an open book, funny and jovial. (and that’s all you have to say about yourself)
- ‘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!>
Part 3b: LET THE PICTURE BE WORTH A 1000 WORDS?
- 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.
THE PROBLEM YOU DIDN’T KNOW YOU HAVE
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!
4 MISTAKES EVERYONE MAKES RIGHT AFTER MAKING THEIR PROFILE
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!
WHY I GAVE MATRIMONIAL WEBSITES A SECOND CHANCE?
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.
EVERY PERSON YOU MEET TEACHES YOU SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR SELF.
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.
MORE ABOUT THE PHASES:
HOW TO IDENTIFY A BEGINNER-
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:
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.’
- They ask you things like, ‘What is the meaning of finding the ‘right person’? Is there such a thing?’
- ‘How can anyone spend all their life with one person?’
- Or they ask you irrelevant things first such as, ‘Are you into sports? Oh you like running? ‘What is your best running time?’
- ‘Why do you want to get married, you have a lot of time?’
- 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!’
- 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.’
- ‘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.
- 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? ’
- ‘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.’
- 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.
THE DESPERATE ONE
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.
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.
HOW TO IDENTIFY THE DESPERATE ONE:
- These desperate people will seek you out, probably the day you sign up for an account.
- They will call you and tell you a lot about themselves even before you ask them.
- They will be extra nice, will compliment your profile and put in visible extra effort in their ‘pitch’.
- 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.
- 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’!
- They may have taken very little time between sending you a request to calling you and asking you to meet up.
- 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.
- 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:
- ‘Why do you need more time to decide? What more do you want to know about me? I have told you everything about me.’
- ‘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!’
- ‘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!!)
- ‘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)
- 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’)
- 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)
HOW TO DEAL WITH THESE DESPERATE PEOPLE?
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:
- I curse the day I met you.
- I am so mad at you that I will misuse your information and your photos. Wait and watch.
- The same ‘in love’ guy will definitely say : I hate you.
- If you could tell me at least what is wrong in me, what you didn’t like.
- Tell me the REAL reason. Is it because I am too old?
- Is it because I am not earning enough?
- Do you think I am a loser?
- Is it because of my family?
- If you did not like something about me, tell me, I will change myself.
THE MIDDLE PHASE- THE INTERMEDIATES
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!!
- By now, they probably have met with the brashness of a beginner and the badgering of a desperado among a few other normal people.
- They have had a few rejections and have rejected a few people too.
- 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.
- How to carry themselves, where to meet and what not to wear when meeting for the first time.
- 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.
- They take the time to look at the profiles forwarded to them by their parents without delays, excuses.
- 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?’
HOW TO DEAL WITH SOMEONE IN THE INTERMEDIATE PHASE:
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!
THE FINAL SEARCH PHASE: HOW TO TELL IF YOU ARE IN THE FINAL PHASE
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:
- You know that you know what you want. You have written the important criteria down.
- You make major revisions to your online profile to tone down anything that you might have received negative feedback about.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- You are mature enough to not feel any distress upon being rejected.
- You know well enough not to get emotionally involved in the initial phase.
- You start being your true self, instead of trying to please anyone or being idealistic about life.
- 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:
- The ‘expression of interest’ has been sent and ‘accepted’.
- Parents from both parties talk on the phone.
- 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.
- 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.
- If you do talk on the phone, typically a conversation will last about 45 min- 1 hr.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!