Response from Conflicted Banker and when Arranged Marriages are not really ‘arranged’.

What do you think of Arranged Marriages where there is no direct or indirect coercion, caste-matching, horoscope-matching or dowry negotiations; and where the parents do no more than introduce the Prospective Bride and the Prospective Bride Groom?

And when would you judge (or blame) a man or a woman for breaking an engagement in such ‘arranged marriages’?


Thanks for publishing my E-Mail. I’ve read the comments over the weekend, and I am grateful to you and all of your readers for providing your viewpoints on the issue.
Almost everybody has expressed sentiments which are very much in line with my own thoughts. As I stated, I don’t have any intention of marrying someone who does not want to be married to me (or anyone else), and most readers have agreed that it is the right stance. This has given me much more confidence in my decision.
I am personally in no hurry to get married, and although I think we would have made a great couple under other circumstances, I’m prepared to accept that nothing can possibly come out of a relationship forged under pressure. I must look elsewhere to find a life-partner. It does hurt a bit, of course, but that is to be expected. I can get over it.
Some people have suggested that friendship without romantic expectations would be difficult. I agree with them, and rest assured, I have considered this. However, I feel that it would only be fair to offer some assistance if she needs it and asks for it. My future course of action will essentially be to go back to life without her, while staying available if she needs any material or moral help. I don’t plan to meet her or see her again on a regular basis under any circumstances, because this would probably just result in me holding unfair romantic expectations from her.
I would also specifically like to respond to Atul’s comment. While I agree that I must accept some of the blame, it is not in the same manner that he suggests. I did write ‘I finally gave in’, but this is a bit of a misrepresentation of what really happened. A better way to say it would be that I finally accepted the idea that it might be time to look for someone to get married to. During my time in the US, I have dated women quite independently; however, back then, I was just starting out and did not want anything long-term, so those relationships were intentionally short-lived (and both sides knew it). I’ve only recently felt the need for something much more serious, but since I arrived in India only a couple of years ago, I found it quite daunting to find and enter the local dating scene, specially because I spend a huge amount of my time at work and have very little opportunity to attend social occasions. Moreover, I did not want a much younger woman than myself, and it seems that most women in my circle, who are around my age, are already married or at least committed. Since my parents already had a few supposedly suitable women in mind, I decided to go with that, on the condition that they would not interfere too much beyond setting up the date (and they kept their promise). I don’t see anything wrong with this myself. The problem, of course, was that I was expecting my ‘date’ to have come by her own free will too. This was not the case here.
Thanks once again.
I am glad that I took all of these second opinions. 🙂

15 thoughts on “Response from Conflicted Banker and when Arranged Marriages are not really ‘arranged’.

  1. I totally get that. There is/was no one in office whom I found attractive and all of my friends are either married or were in my “friend zone”.
    I ended up going the arranged marriage route too. :-/ Only I got married and it turned out to be a disaster!

    Anyway, all the best to you! 🙂


    • Hi sarkywoman,
      I am currently in a similar situation. I am sorry if it is a sore spot, but I was hoping you could give me some advice.
      Do you think it was a disaster because it was an arranged marriage? Would you have married your ex even otherwise (if you had met him through friends etc)?


      • It wasn’t a disaster because it was an arranged marriage. It was a disaster because I got married to a lying, manipulative, misogynistic jerk.
        I am pretty sure arranged marriages can also be a success. My best friend had an arranged marriage. She met her husband probably once and they got engaged. Of course, after the engagement, they had a few months to get to know each other. And now, she LOVES her husband and becomes like a lost puppy if he is not around. Her MIL is the typical Indian MIL, telling her not to wear this skirt or telling her to put the bindi. My friend is a vegetarian and her husband and in laws non-vegetarians. Once, she was washing dishes and there was one in which chicken had been cooked. She was uncomfortable washing it and asked her husband to wash it and he did. LOL, you should have seen the rage her MIL got into over that! But, that was when they were in a joint family. Now, they have moved to a different city and boy is she having fun! Her husband is totally amazing. He supports her when his mother is lecturing my friend, which funnily enough, my friend doesn’t like because she is afraid it will make the MIL think she has turned him against her.
        Seeing her, I started thinking that arranged marriages aren’t all bad. And not all choice marriages are successful either.
        And to answer your question, I wouldn’t have married him if I had gotten to know him through friends because I would have gotten to see his misogyny and patriarchal attitudes beforehand.
        As we had met for the purpose of marriage, he was very careful to present a facade of being a “liberal” person, but all that changed the very day we got married.
        If you are seeing guys, go out on a few dates with them, maybe a few fun “outings” along with your friends before saying yes to them.

        Hope this helps!!


  2. “And when would you judge (or blame) a man or a woman for breaking an engagement in such ‘arranged marriages’?”

    I wouldn’t. It takes a lot of courage to break off an engagement. In any case, it’s better to break off an engagement if you’re unsure (for whatever reason) rather than to go through with getting married.

    I’m surprised that the ‘conflicted banker’ hasn’t met women from his age group in the NCR. I’ve met lots of girls in the 27–30 age group who are single.


  3. I am happy to know that the LW made a firm decision and that it was for the right reasons.
    “What do you think of Arranged Marriages —— Prospective Bride Groom?”
    As long as both the people involved are OK with it, it sounds like a good option. I myself am currently in that situation. I dated a few guys when I was still a student and they didn’t work out. Once I started working, I initially didn’t have the time to date. Now, for some reason, I don’t meet single people of my age that I get along with. Everybody is either too young (and immature) for me or too old. I feel like I am at a stage where I would want to settle down. I never believed in the fairy tale type of love anyway. For me, love is when two people like, understand and respect each other. I am as open to finding such a person through my parents as I am to meeting someone through the usual (well, usual for me) process.


    • For me, love is when two people like, understand and respect each other

      That is indeed how it should be, IMHO. 🙂

      I believe fairy tale love is best left for fairy tales and for two-night flings in Vegas.

      Although marriages are as different as the blades of grass in a field, all the good ones (in my experience) tend to result in the protagonists eventually becoming a bit like an old pair of slippers; a bit rounded around the edges, and fitting in quite nicely with each other.

      My wife often quips that if your marriage doesn’t makes you just a tiny bit more ‘boring’ every year you are together, you’re probably not on the right track.

      She says it in jest, but I’d say there is a germ of truth in there. There are always the occasional fireworks and butterflies-in-the-stomach, but for the most part, it’s just comfortable, very much like the steady warmth that emanates from a brick fireplace on a cold, frosty evening. 🙂


      • I so agree with this Praveen. I think friendship is at the heart of a good marriage. And friendship is comfort, warmth, sharing. Friendship is familiarity, knowing what to expect, it’s calming. You can still find ways to have the fun and the fireworks, but at the end of the day, you need the simple comfort of each other’s presence.


  4. I think the type of ‘arranged’ that you describe – where there is no direct or indirect coercion, caste-matching, horoscope-matching or dowry negotiations – is called ‘being set up’ or ‘blind dating’ in the West. I think it’s fine. If you don’t meet someone in a healthy dating environment (grad school, workplace, friends, hobbies, classes, sports), then nothing wrong when your friend or parent says, “I’d like you to meet this great guy/girl – no pressure – meet and decide for yourself.”

    I wouldn’t judge anyone for breaking an engagement. In this case, the LW had clear reasons for doing so. But even if someone didn’t, if they’re unsure, it’s better to not go through the marriage – that is a much bigger commitment – and why enter it with second thoughts?


  5. It’s great to see that you have made a decision after having weighed the pros and cons. Nothing much comes out of second guessing in such situations. We all have to choose one way or the other. I was of the opinion that you could have made the choice a little later.
    But I agree that with sword of marriage hanging over your necks, it would have been impossible to forge a relationship with her. It does make no sense to get emotionally involved any more than you already have and all I will say, is that this email probably has made it clear that arranged marriages even with its perfectly commonplace nuances, can be extremely damaging. It’s best handled with care. I am glad that I have ruled out arranged marriages by choice, a long time back in my life and I have no intention of going back on my decision. It helps though that my parents would much rather see me happy and single, perhaps all my life, rather than unhappy and married.
    Wish you all the best.


  6. For what it’s worth, I think you’ve taken a decision that is rational and empathic in equal measure.

    If I were in your situation, I doubt I could have thought of a much better resolution.

    As far as hands-off ‘arranged dating’ — I will call it that, for want of a better term — is concerned, I am personally not against it.

    Ultimately, it boils down to choice; do you have the freedom to take decisions on your own terms? If so, it does not matter who sets up the meeting in the first place.

    I do not believe that the sort of arranged dating CB refers to has any pitfalls that are substantially different from conventional (in a Western sense) dating. The situation that arose in his case does not really have much to do with the fact that it was his parents who set up the date.

    The woman, Tara, seems to have been under tremendous pressure to find a match as soon as possible, and she was trying to do her best under the circumstances. In this case, she found her best compromise (so to speak) through her parents, but I find it entirely plausible that the same thing may have resulted from a date that had been set up independently, had her parents given her an opportunity to do so. Her attitude seems to have been along the lines of ‘I don’t want to get married at all, but since I don’t have a real choice, I’ll just go with the best match I can find’.

    To me, this is not one of the pitfalls of non-coercive arranged dates per se, but rather a pitfall of trying to found a mature, stable relationship in a patriarchal society that disempowers young men and women to find their own partners. It is an indictment of society, and the kind of smothering, unhealthy filial relationships it breeds.

    I also echo the thought that breaking an engagement — especially for a good reason, but also if such a reason does not exist — is not something a person should be judged for. If one is that unsure, it is probably best to inform one’s partner about the decision (and possibly the reasons for it), and then leave.

    Here’s wishing the best to you, Conflicted Banker. I’m sure you, with your sensible, responsible attitude, won’t have much trouble finding a partner.



    • i would like to add that Indian society also determines a woman’s social standing using only two indicators. a) martial status and b) if married for more than one year then number of children. in this context the first goal any father of a girl child seems to have is marrying her off asap so that she can hqve her two kids befor he retires while he can still afford it financially because the girl must come home for her delivery. with this kind of pressure it’s usually going to be a lucky draw.
      i always tell my friends that i got lucky in tbe lottery. at 24-25 getting into an arranged marriage seemed the easy thing to do but it’s only now that i realize how scary it could have been. in the given case it’s easy to say that Tara should brave up and break ties with her family and so on. but it’s not that simple. ultimately it’s still her family. how do you break family ties without bitterness? anyway, I digress.
      I personally don’t think anyone can judge a broken engagement under any circumstances. but having said that i think I’m sometimes glad to hear of an engagement broken because it means that’s one unhappy marriage avoided. yes, yes, i’m a cynic…


  7. Pingback: ‘I feel that arranged marriages are for extroverts, and there is no place for us introverts here.’ | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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