“Why do many young Indian men say they are interested in dating, but leave the decision of anything on the longer term to their parents?

Sharing an email. 

Dear IHM,

I’ve been a regular albeit silent reader of your blog for quite a long time now. I would appreciate it if I could have your views and those of your readers on the following :
Why do many young Indian men say they are interested in dating, but leave the decision of anything on the longer term to their parents? Is “my parents wouldn’t approve” a sort of excuse to pre-empt any kind of long-term relationship?
In this case, if a girl still chooses to date such a man and maybe get into a short-term relationship, does sex remove all chances of a possible future?
How important are age and age difference in a long-term relationship (with the possibility of marriage)? I find that men are willing to date older women, and cite the age difference as an attraction, but they also mention the age gap as being one reason their families would disapprove.
Also, if a couple is compatible (and have worked out their differences, say financial or religious beliefs), then why would any reasonable parent disapprove of the relationship?
I personally don’t believe in an arranged marriage, and my parents are understanding, and I am sure they won’t have any problems so long as they get to meet the man I’m interested in. I have heard of people having to give up someone they are in love with, under family pressure. I do not know if I’m missing something of the larger picture, but how does choosing a partner from the same caste/community assure compatibility and happiness?
I can understand that in case both partners choose to go the arranged marriage route, choosing someone with a similar background would help in finding some common ground, and I also assume both partners get enough time to interact and are not pressurized to say ‘yes’. I find that if I go on a date with someone, the only thing I know at the end of a few hours is whether I want to see that person again. So I can’t understand how one can consent to marry someone after having hardly interacted with them.
I would like to know the views of you and your readers, especially young men.
– A confused young woman trying to understand the complex Indian young man.

93 thoughts on ““Why do many young Indian men say they are interested in dating, but leave the decision of anything on the longer term to their parents?

  1. “Also, if a couple is compatible (and have worked out their differences, say financial or religious beliefs), then why would any reasonable parent disapprove of the relationship?”
    That’s just it, ‘the parents’ aren’t reasonable.
    You’ll find that emotions often take precedence over being reasonable in Indian culture.
    Also, there’s a financial incentive here too, asa a parent your child & it’s potential spouse are often your ‘retirement’ plan.

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    • I am not very sure about the financial incentive that you talk about – I believe that it is the norm (at least in the part of India where I live) for (grown-up) children to take care of their parents, at least financially. I believe that this is one of the topics that is to be discussed and agreed upon before marriage (arranged or otherwise) – how much you help your parents financially (applicable to both sets of parents).
      (But then, I’m still naive and single, so please enlighten me further )

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  2. I find that “parents won’t approve” is a reason for rejection by both men & women equally. The reason I think is that falling in love gives that seventh heaven confidence of winning all three worlds. When it comes to marriage, fear and anxiety of parental approval and societal acceptance creeps in. Many back off at this point. Many let their parents know but don’t argue with them and break off an otherwise wonderful relationship. Parents approval and acceptance holds a great importance for a lot of people but they don’t think these things out while getting in a relationship. May be they are right while entering the relationship because even they are not too sure whether the relationship will survive through the years.

    Of why the parents choose to break off a relationship which has otherwise survived the odds and where the partners are compatible emotionally, financially, etc. is probably because of char log who will think bad of them if their children get into a dreaded “love” marriage.

    Although, it might not be wise to blame the parents in all cases because I have also come across parents who have put forth practical and realistic viewpoints where the children were completely smitten with their boyfriend/girlfriend and did not realise the stark differences in their thoughts, lifestyle and approaches. IHM had posted about one such girl who was made to see the reality by her parents and she broke off the relationship.

    In my view, if one honestly evaluates whether the girl / the guy will be able to comfortably live his/her life with the partner being chosen without too much to compromise upon and they both have common approach towards life and common beliefs, the match is a good one.

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    • I am not blaming parents in general, and I do agree with you that love often blinds us to flaws that other people can see. I agree with you about societal approval, but I believe that public memory is short and you’re the topic of gossip only until the next scandal comes along.

      I wonder how you know for sure that your parents won’t approve – does the fact that the choice was not theirs automatically imply disapproval?

      I don’t know if I’m being idealistic here, but marriage being such a serious decision, I believe you do check whether you’re willing to share your life with another person, and whether you can tolerate each others’ quirks and minor irritations, whether you can communicate with each other and whether you find each other physically attractive; and how much each partner is willing to compromise.

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      • I so agree with being a topic of discussion until the next one comes along!!

        About how you know for sure? May be subconsciously they knew all along and were in denial? I don’t know. But it is always better to ask rather than assume. And in cases where you are sure you are in love with someone perfect for you, it is even better to try to reason and if not, go ahead anyways since you are the one supposed to live an entire lifetime and certainly not your parents.

        I agree with your other points too.🙂

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  3. First things first, pressure from parents or family in deciding one’s spouse is not to assure compatibility or happiness. Obviously, two people in a relationship are the best judge of their compatibility with each other as far as logic goes. But parental/family choice (specially along caste/community lines) is solely to ensure that the power equations in the society are maintained. ladke waale and ladki waale.

    As far as I have experienced in my life, arranged marriage is such a huge temptation which is hard to let go by. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the groom and his family to hog the limelight in every possible way. Sometime back I had mentioned about the new (now quiet old) concept of arranged-love-marriages where a couple who is already in a relationship gets married along the lines of an arranged marriage. One couple I knew (my batch mates) were in a relationship, though being from different castes. After initial raised eyebrows and displeasure, both families agreed for the union. Strangely, both sides happily agreed on doing things the arranged marriage way. On the night of the wedding I found the groom throwing a big tantrum. Reason ? The girl’s brother had not gone and requested his uncle to come and have dinner.

    He was entitled to throw a tantrum. After all, he was the groom and his uncle was an important ladke wala. So what if he was actually marrying his girlfriend of many years !

    I have personally seen males being wary of going along with their choice IF their parents/family are not agreeing to the match. It may somehow relate to the expectations of a lifetime of entitlements the guy and his family receive from the girl and her family IF it is an arranged marriage. The logic is simple. In an arranged marriage, you can shop for what you want. You can simply say no and move on if the other side appears sensible enough to reject any patriarchal demands. In a choice marriage, you have to live with what ‘comes’ with the person you are choosing. I have clearly seen this attitude in several males I know. In the example above, maybe the guy knew very well that the girl’s family was docile enough to quietly swallow his tantrums. Who knows if he would have continued with the relationship if the girl’s family were self respecting no-nonsense people.

    As far as age-difference goes, I think age is just a number. But age is also an effective excuse to run away from a long term commitment. Also, social conditioning makes it weird for a man to have a wife elder to him in age. Our society takes it for granted that the husband is the dominant part of a marriage. Since age is usually taken to be one of the criteria for respect, it is taken to be unnatural to have an elder wife. After all, only the husband is entitled to be respected.

    ‘how one can consent to marry someone after having hardly interacted with them’… well that is something I have been trying to understand since ages. But things don’t usually go according to logic in our country, do they ? Just some of the views on the topic from a complex Indian man.🙂

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    • Thank you, Shobhit, for providing an inside view on the workings of a complex Indian man🙂

      I agree with what you say, about getting to shop for what you want. (And, if you ask me, an unfair market with hardly any choice if you’re a female past your ‘expiry date’, though men do not have some such deadline).

      Is mutual respect too much to ask for?😛

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    • Wow, thanks for writing this! Male perspectives on this particular issue (WHY they prefer arranged marriages) mean a lot.

      However, it gave rise to a rather bleak thought for me.
      The Indian social system basically favours men and vests them with an obscene amount of power.The introspective, thoughtful few aside, how many people will actually,voluntarily give up power?
      By that logic, realistically, can we expect men to give up a culture where they hold all the cards for a fairer, more equal system?

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      • A bleak thought indeed.

        In my limited circle, I know of girls whose parents are open to their daughters marrying partners of their choice, and more males who are willing to consider only an arranged marriage (though anything works for short-term casual dating/flings). The girls get the ‘parental approval’ excuse, and end up getting into the arranged marriage setup whether or not they believe in it.

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      • Anita,

        Your thought touches on the complex issue of social change, and the factors which precipitate it.
        However, I feel that your premise doesn’t necessarily warrant such a bleak conclusion.

        For one, most theories of social change don’t postulate a requirement for all individual members of powerful groups to voluntarily give up their privilege.
        Exogamous factors such as technological and economic changes can easily render many social norms obsolete, and even without such factors, it’s possible for numerically small but influential groups to impose (or at least popularise) a worldview among a large majority.

        But setting all of that aside, It’s a mistake to ignore the fact that empathy for others is as much a part of the human experience as anything else. This is why consciousness-raising works in practice: many people are uncomfortable with undeserved privilege, and most are uncomfortable with blatant injustice. This is human nature. The caveat is that the veneer of social norms often works to disguise such injustice, and distort our entire conception of what constitutes just and unjust behaviour.

        You ask whether we can realistically expect men to give up their privilege. I’d say that answer is yes, we can; history teaches us that such an abdication of privileged positions is much less rare than one might expect. However, such an abdication cannot be explained in purely logical terms.

        As Dale Carnegie has pointed out, most of us are not creatures of logic, but rather creatures of emotion, bristling with prejudice, and motivated by our pride and vanity. If we were all coldly logical beings, basing our actions on pragmatic calculations of self-interest, true dismantling of oppression might have been impossible. However, most appeals to justice are inherently emotional, regardless of any material benefits that may accrue, and people do respond to such calls, today, as much as yesterday.

        What we need to do today is to robustly challenge unjust assumptions and rules put forward by our traditional society. An individual who challenges social injustice is an individual casting a vote for a better future; one may feel that individual votes do not count, but the sum of such votes can produce vast, sweeping changes.

        The change will happen, and the tide is turning. All that is required are the right external factors, and some time for the change to truly percolate.

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      • I have been thinking about this too for the past few days.

        Ever since Liepzig University incident, social media has been awash with angry men crying “Not fair! Not fair!”.

        As a woman, it’s second nature for me to not react aggressively to unfair stereotyping. Women have such vast experience with unfair stereotyping that it becomes background noise after some time.

        I was therefore confounded by the visceral male responses to India’s Daughter and the Liepzig incident. Since I am vocal about feminism on social media, my feed was clogged with angry male accusations of “YOU feminists have hatched a conspiracy to demonise Indian men and you bring India shame by washing our dirty laundry in public.”

        I am gobsmacked that many men interpret the actions of one misguided German professor to mean that the whole world has it out for Indian men.

        Then I realized that most men have no real experience with negative stereotyping. Unlike women, they don’t open What’s App to find a plethora of “dumb wife/dumb women” jokes. Their gender is not at the receiving end of ridicule and negative stereotyping every day.

        For many Indian men, the Liepzig incident is their first experience of feeling powerless against the force of stereotypes. Women are intimately acquainted with this feeling, since we live our lives under the crushing weight of stereotypes.

        Which brings me to the structure of power. It is the privilege of the privileged to be unaware of how the unprivileged go about life.

        Since most middle-class Indian men have no personal experience of being unfairly victimized because of stereotypes and gendered cultural norms, it’s understandable that many seem to be over-reacting to the “all Indian men are rapists and a-holes” meme. Said meme, largely exists in their own heads.

        Deep down, they fear that the power they had to shape attitudes, norms and normative behavior is rapidly eroding. A cultural shift is happening, and power is being slowly redistributed. Hence the feeling that “Indian men are under siege”.

        Based on what I see around me, it is futile to expect the vast majority of men to simply give up privilege because it’s unfair. Most don’t even see their privileges as privileges.

        It is a privilege (more like a blessing) for a working mother to come home to hot dinner. For working fathers, it’s life as usual, no big deal.

        Perhaps, that’s how privilege can be dismantled. One dinner at a time. Sorry for the long comment.🙂

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        • Neha,

          I do agree that most middle-class men aren’t often unfairly victimised by gendered norms; in fact, they are privileged due to these. And I absolutely understand and agree with the thrust of your comment (that men rarely see their own privilege, and are shocked when they are put in an unprivileged position).

          That said, I’m personally uncomfortable with the assertion that racist stereotypes are a figment of people’s imaginations. The unfortunate fact is that racism is alive and well in most areas of the world, and is certainly very real to the people affected by it.
          Obviously, the claim that the entire world ‘has it out’ for Indian men is an extreme one. Indians, since independence, have been very touchy about Western racism in general – often to the point of caricature – but in my opinion, condemnation heaped on a blatantly racist professor is not necessarily an over-reaction in itself.

          You are absolutely right that Indian men don’t oppose sexism with nearly the same vehemence as they oppose racism, and you are also correct in that this is because their privilege blinds them to the former. But the answer is not to trivialise one or the other concern; the answer is to address them both equally and effectively.

          Liked by 1 person

    • It is really good to read the comments here. Getting to know the views of so many people helps me to think about various aspects of the issue which I missed while writing my earlier comment.

      I just remembered something while reading ‘musingmaiden’s comment – “I am personally against the idea of moving in with in-laws, at least immediately after marriage – I believe at least the initial few years of marriage should be lived with just your spouse – that’s when you lay the foundations of the marriage.”

      While visiting home last week, my mom asked me if I had managed to find someone for myself (she is well aware of my concept of marrying someone I find worth living my life with rather than finding someone to marry). To which I playfully replied that I would have but the girl will have lots of trouble to adjust with her in-laws. To which my mom questioned me on what makes me assume that my wife will need to move in with her in-laws instead of just the two of us living together. Little quips like these from her simply leave me speechless.🙂

      Coming back to the topic of discussion, another factor which makes people abandon a relationship in favor of the choice of the parents is the concept of repaying the ‘debt’ of all that the parents have done for the child. The ‘sacrifice’ to make the parents happy – part of repaying the debt. I had written about this about five years back when I had first begun to question these issues as I was closely associated with a case where a guy eloped with a girl to marry before abandoning her citing the debt to his parents. I would like your criticism and comments on my views regarding this.

      http://mindzpeak.blogspot.in/2010/06/debt-to-debt.html

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      • Mothers surprise us so much, no?🙂 (I remember once grumbling to my mother that most of the guys around me were younger to me, she said she’d be happy if I just brought home a guy I wished to be with, it didn’t matter if he was younger or older🙂 )

        The ‘debt’ issue is something I’ve pondered upon, but do not have yet concrete views on – I sometimes feel I’m indebted to my parents, but I think the only way to ‘repay’ them would be by being a good human being first, and remembering the values they have instilled in me. (My mistakes are my own)

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  4. The great Desi tradition and culture is basically “codependent” that infantalize incumbents but is presented as community and family oriented.
    To grow up means to make tough decisions and take responsibility for them. A relationship read love marriage may work or may not work, two people have each other to blame not the third person. In arranged marriage young men want to lay blame on parents, as they fixed it or selected their partner. That is selectively being grown up and juvenile at the same time. As a grown up you take all your decisions and corresponding responsibilities as “YOUR OWN.” Where as, a man baby depend on others for making decisions for him and then crib about it for rest of his life. DG will not use the word “baby woman” because the fact is women are essentially infantalized rather are treated as non persons when making life choices. In a culture that thrived on subjugation of women through whore Madonna (devi kulta) labels women’s choice remains problematic. To give in and become a devi or rebel and be called a whore are not very flattering options.

    Desi dating is a strange can of worms reading is between the lines
    https://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/2009/10/31/desi-dating-read-between-the-lines/

    Peace,
    Desi Girl

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    • I agree with you, and believe in having the freedom to make mistakes – at the end of the day, it was a choice I consciously made, and what results from my decision is my responsibility and something I have to deal with. If things go wrong, I might ask for help, and feel I have let my parents down, but it’s still something that I chose.

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      • You will not let your parents down if your marriage fails. A happpy marriage is something that you deserve not what you owe to your parents.
        There are lots of reasons why a once happy marriage turns sour – People change and priorities change.

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        • I didn’t say that – I said that if for some reason the marriage fails, I might feel that, and I might ask for help. But at the end of the day, I’ll deal with it.

          And you’re right about people and priorities changing…

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  5. This is one of the lame excuse by many Indian men and women. They dont want to make the decision so they blame parents or say “I can’t hurt my parents.” This also means that dating is not taken seriously by them. For them its a time pass. Mostly people with this attitude are not going to take even spouse seriously. The situation becomes troublesome after marriage. Both men and women can’t take any stand because “I can’t hurt my parents”. Here the situation of women becomes more troublesome because she will shift with guy’s parents or guy’s parents will eventually join them. She has to face everything alone because guy can’t hurt his parents. She can not make any decision because she can’t hurt both set of parents. The gender and hierarchical stereotypes continue because we can’t hurt parents.

    And you know we are the one who thinks its wrong. But for them its normal course of life , most of the people don’t even realize that its abuse and oppression. They think its okay for parents to decide for us because they know the best and wants best.

    And arrange marriage comes with perks for men and women both.

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    • What are the perks for women? Except for perhaps, a very iffy and conditional promise of financial support.

      An arranged marriage to a man that you cannot grow to love is truly horrid, since the emotional bond that keeps most married people together, is entirely missing.

      Arranged marriages are based on the premise that you will eventually grow to love the person you married. This is asserted with great certitude and little evidence.

      I have always wondered about those couples who discover that they cannot grow to love the arranged marriage spouse; those who discover that any emotional connection, however tenuous, is entirely lacking.

      What happens when you realize that the person sleeping next to you doesn’t “get” you at all?

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      • //I have always wondered about those couples who discover that they cannot grow to love the arranged marriage spouse; those who discover that any emotional connection, however tenuous, is entirely lacking.

        What happens when you realize that the person sleeping next to you doesn’t “get” you at all?//

        I have wondered the same thing.

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      • Neha when you asked what perks women have in marriage I thought again then I realized its not a perk but this insight I have gained after reading blogs after blogs on this website.

        However for 98% Indian across the globe think that the biggest perk Indian women get out of marriage is financial security and better lifestyle. For me its completely illusion because I don’t own it and when need will arise I cant command it. But for most of the people its truth. One of my colleague said that her XYZ female friend landed up in USA and what she has done she has married right guy. This thinking exist in working women also that’s why they never ask husband to pitch in household chores and in case if he does think that he has done big ehsaan. They never take their financial planning seriously and think that this husband’s responsibility. Kitchen is her responsibility.

        So cut short whether women is working or not she was not having any financial security and after marriage she has financial security.

        When we come to guys they were not doing and not responsible for any household chores and the same continues. Nothing changes for them before and after marriage. So again most of Indians don’t realize that men have any perk in marriage

        Love doesn’t mean supporting and taking stands in any relationship. Once you ask your beloved person to take a stand you are termed as selfish. This is applicable for all relationship and more evident in case of marriage.

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      • You suck it up and stay married because sanskaar. I don’t get the whole deal either.

        My brother in law recently found someone through the arranged marriage setup but refused to commit to anything without talking to her/meeting her for 2-3 months. That created all kinds of unhappiness in the family. My mother in law would keep asking me why “kids these days” can’t just meet 1-2 times and go ahead and say yes. I had nothing but shrugs to offer after my initial explanation of “it’s a life decision. how can you ask someone to hurry” was met with skepticism.

        Their response was always along the lines of “i met your father once and he said yes…i didn’t have a choice…but we’re still happily married”. Truth be said, they’re married yes. Happily? That’s bit of a stretch. They’re just a typical Indian couple tolerating each other and bound only by their children. It’s very sad and not a marriage i’ll ever aspire to.

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        • Hanh I agree. Though my parents’ marriage was a typical arranged one, and they are very happily married today,I am under no illusions that it will work for me. It might work yes: but there is a very high probability it will not. And when I am making such a huge decision I want to make it with two eyes open.

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        • I think that our parents generation viewed marriage as a series of trade-offs. The woman sacrificed her identity and her dreams in return for respectability and financial security.

          The man took on the lifelong burden of being a provider in return for hot chapatis, round-the-clock service, indifferent sex and having a care-giver for his parents.

          I see many older married couples who claim to love their spouses, but say the nastiest things about them behind their backs. I can understand that. What I cannot understand is the indifference to the spouse’s emotional needs.

          The older men in my family always pretend to be strong, unemotional and stoic in the face of emotional distress, while the women seem to be passive, self-effacing or child-like.

          I don’t see healthy, well-rounded human beings who are alive, vital and vigorous. I get the distinct feeling that everyone plays along, knowing full well that what seems is not what it really is.

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      • Perks for women include things like acceptability and belonging. Or at least the perception of it. Coming across as a “good girl”.
        What if I have no expectation that my spouse needs to “get” me?

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        • That your prerogative. Emotional connection may not be a “must have” for you, but many, I’d say most people, need a baseline level of emotional attachment to their spouses.

          Middle-class Indians spend the longest portion of their lives with their spouses. Parents grow old and die, the children move away, friendships wither away — the only person who’s always around is your spouse.

          Acceptability and belonging are again very conditional.

          Let’s talk about how married women receive praise and acceptance in Indian society. A good Indian woman is somebody who is a dutiful, self-abnegating wife and daughter-in-law. Note that the emphasis is on being “dutiful” and not “loving”.

          In most families, a wife and a daughter-in-law are not seen as individual human beings. They are expected to fit a mould that is universal for all Indian women, with no accommodation for women’s individual desires, inclinations, competencies.

          Some women are not temperamentally suited to play the role of docile, submissive, self-effacing, self-sacrificing wives and daughters-in-law. Society expects all women to be innately submissive, long suffering, meek and self-sacrificing.

          After marriage, an Indian woman has to make peace with a plethora of unjust and unfair cultural norms, expectations and behavior.

          She has look on helplessly as her parents are treated as lesser beings because they are “the ladkiwale”.

          She has to make her peace and sit through numerous demeaning marriage rituals like her father washing her husband’s feet and other gems like the Kashi Yatra.

          Marriage sets the stage for endless one-sided compromises. She has to “fit” into her husband’s family, tolerate disrespectful behavior from the in-laws, “just because”.

          She has to change her residence, her lifestyle, her food habits, her way of dressing, and oftentimes her behavior too. Her goals and career assume a secondary place, and even if they don’t, she carries the double burden of childcare, housework and her other “work”.

          Given all the ways her sense of self is compromised, “acceptance and belonging” look like feeble rewards.

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    • (I am personally against the idea of moving in with in-laws, at least immediately after marriage – I believe at least the initial few years of marriage should be lived with just your spouse – that’s when you lay the foundations of the marriage. I don’t mean you cut them off completely, but just that you live on your own and not have to deal with others on a daily basis. But then, I am also uncomfortable with how people automatically assume that a girl would give up everything and just move in with her husband. I personally am a bit weird (by Indian standards at least) in that I expect both partners to be willing to live with each others’ in-laws if needed, it’s not always the girl who has to leave everything behind)

      //They think its okay for parents to decide for us because they know the best and wants best//
      I wonder how close we are to our parents once we grow up. I know of very few people who share a totally open relationship with their parents, but most of us do have our tiny preferences/ secrets that we do not always feel comfortable sharing with our parents. I think these are extremely important in a marriage – I guess how well your parents know you comes into play here. (Even if they have a fairly good idea, I think it’s the little things that can cause strain in a relationship)

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      • You are not weird at all girl. You voiced my thoughts. I have seen cases right in front of my eyes where the newly married couple have stayed separately from day one and have had cordial relations with the in-laws. I would have hated to stay with my in-laws too. They are good people, my MIL was a very nice lady, however she never liked it if I entered the kitchen. Initially, I thought that I am so lucky my MIL doesn’t let me cook. But truth was something else. By god’s grace, I landed in US a week after my wedding and I made my own home with my husband. Privacy is very important, there is a tendency of in-laws to treat their son and DIL as juveniles, it will stop only when they move out.

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  6. A very typical lame excuse of Indian men. they want to choose a partner they like.. yet fear the fact that parents may be hurt. A serious attutde change is required in society. For the son as well as for his parents.

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  7. 1. Some people really truly believe that they “owe” their parents the right to pick their spouse. These same people sometimes also believe that living apart from your parents is “abandoning” them. It is a kind of brainwashing.
    2. Peer pressure/Log Kya Kahenge. Families where arranged marriage is the norm are hostile to non-arranged marriages – but once one person starts they all start!
    3. Cowardice. They do love their boyfriend/girlfriend but the pressure to conform is just too much so they take the easy way out.

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  8. I just got into Tinder in my city in California. So far I am swiping only for Indian guys Cuz that’s what I am into(hoping I find long term love). Sheesh. I already feel it’s a moot point Cuz I have come across such immature lads. Ugh.

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  9. You’ve described a common phenomenon experienced by many Indians (both male and female).

    There can be many reasons for such behaviour. Here are some common reasons that I’ve had the opportunity to encounter, in the first person, or third:

    1. Fear of censure or disapproval from parents/relatives/society

    This is probably the most common reason. Since India is a relatively hierarchical society, and puts a premium on both obedience and social approval, many people would rather just go with a route that is socially sanctioned, and is unlikely to result in any censure.

    While many people are too steeped in patriarchal traditions to consider other alternatives, I’ve also seen fairly self-aware people (especially women) do it out of rational self-interest. They simply don’t have the energy or inclination to deal with the consequences of putting their foot down; they would rather take their chances on an arranged marriage, and cross their fingers.

    Concerns of familial and social censure are not always trivial; in very orthodox communities, choice marriages can sometimes result in violent retaliation from families, and (quite understandably) many people would rather not take that chance.

    2. Attitudes towards relationships and marriage

    Traditionally minded people in India often don’t consider non-marital relationships to be ‘serious’. There is a dichotomy drawn between a boyfriend/girlfriend and a spouse, and this dichotomy is often held in parallel with the dichotomy between dating and the arranged marriage process.

    In such a worldview, it’s all right to date casually, but dating is not a mechanism appropriate to finding a spouse. Many hold the view that the sort of person you marry is not the sort of person you date (and vice versa). Often in India, this view also results in a belief that an arranged marriage is a better route to long-term marital success.

    3. Misconceptions and general misgivings about dating

    Misconceptions about Western-style dating abound in orthodox Indian society.

    Women who date are often considered promiscuous and immoral or else, ‘gold-diggers’. The men who date them are seen to be in it only for sexual or otherwise shallow reasons.

    Many seem to believe that romantic attraction within a marriage is somehow morally superior to romantic attraction outside of it, to the extent that men are sometimes told to ‘prove’ their love by actually marrying their partner. To such people, arranged marriage is the ‘decent’ thing to do, and casual dating is something that is on the fringes of social acceptability (even if still enjoyable).

    4. Privilege

    Some men simply enjoy the privilege and comfort that the arranged marriage system affords them.
    Romance is not important to everyone, and the exalted status of men (and their families) in the arranged marriage system can be attractive to many. At the basest level, there are material factors (such as dowry), but even if no money changes hands, most arranged marriages are inherently patriarchal and inequitable – an inequity that often benefits men at the cost of women, but benefits men’s parents most of all.

    Take your pick. I’m sure there are other reasons I’ve missed, but those (or a combination of them) seem to cover most cases.

    I would also point out that because Indian men are not always encouraged to mingle with women as adolescents, many are very uncomfortable meeting women socially. Obviously, this doesn’t apply to men who do date and later turn to arranged marriages, but it’s something worth keeping in mind.

    Liked by 2 people

    • There is also the failure aspect. If the first relationship doesn’t work out, then people just randomly decide that they are unable to hold on to a relationship and get married the arranged marriage route. This is one of the saddest reasons because it reflects how little confidence has been engendered in the youth to find their own way through life and love.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Agree. It’d also help if we learnt how to handle rejection or the facts that not all relationships can last, without resorting to saying “All men/women/ are like this. You can never trust one”. (Or physical attacks in worse cases). I personally believe in asking upfront and knowing where I stand, and I respect it when someone gives me a concrete answer, be it positive or negative.

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      • Fem,

        You’re quite right, and in my opinion, this is probably a direct result of the disapproval with which Indian society views non-marital relationships.

        It’s quite true that Indian people often handle relationship issues in an immature manner. In my experience, many simply don’t know any better. With parents, teachers and other authority figures unwilling to even talk about romantic relationships, let alone offer advice and guidance, young people are left to rely on films, television, magazines and other media for examples of successful relationships outside of their own family structure.
        As you know, such portrayals rarely win awards for realism.

        This is a culture that brutally represses sexuality and romantic self-expression. It’s not hard to imagine why such a culture would produce people who find it difficult to approach relationships in a mature and self-aware manner.

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        • Yes!!! I knew an 18 year old girl in college who was very seriously considering eloping with her boyfriend whom she had known for exaclty one month. Why? “It’s love”. If the girl had the opportunity to date him with freedom and introduce him to her parents, do you think she would do sucha a thing?

          Like

    • “I would also point out that because Indian men are not always encouraged to mingle with women as adolescents, many are very uncomfortable meeting women socially.”

      This is the root cause of so many India-specific problems.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. The idea of change simply doesn’t sit well with Indians. Being a rebel, wanting to do things another way is childish. Grown up people maintain “tradition” you see.
    Dating, love and romance are childish notions. Its only the discerning gaze of our tradition steeped parents that can elevate these flippant fancies into respectable honourable things.

    As a teenager who railed about stupid religious rituals, idiotic academic pressures, unequal social systems I was always alone. For most girls, the maximum that acts of rebellion amounted to was to go out with a guy or wear skimpy clothes. After the boyfriend dumped them, they went back home to be good daughters. If the boyfriend worked out, they became good daughter-in-laws.

    For guys, well, they smoked/drank/watched porn/found hookers. But at the end of the day, most of them went home to study for IIT ,whether they wanted to or not.
    The ones who didn’t do that were deadbeat degenerates – either they really didn’t want to anything with their lives or they had dreams which simply collapsed under the weight of societal expectations.

    All deviations from the norm were simply fads, done for the sake of rebelling, because it was cool to do so.I saw very few people actually question the “age old way of life” out of genuine curiosity and a desire to change.

    Even today, I get a lot of strange comments. Are you still like this? You still won’t grow your hair?
    You still don’t want to get married?You think you don’t want kids? You won’t go to the circus because of some stupid animal rights thing?You won’t burst crackers during Diwali?

    Time to stop rebelling, grow up. Fit in. Do what society is doing.
    *sigh*.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. I totally agree with Shobith and a regular indian girl responses. I would like to quote a few examples here:
    1. My Telugu friend came to the US for her masters and began dating a Gujrati boy. Now both of them dated throughout their college, got into good jobs and once they were financially secure told their parents about the relationship. In this case both parents knew these two were good friends and it was not really a huge shock. But still the boy’s side threw tantrums and said no and this went on for two years. Finally they came around and here started the real drama. The marriage and all rituals had to be according to their choice because after all they “had agreed” to the marriage. Gifts had to be brought for all the guests and the sister in laws had to be given heft sums. The girl’s side was not very affluent to afford all this so the girl began to save for the wedding to “meet their demands” because she also felt that they were doing a big favor by agreeing to the wedding. In all this drama the “guy” did not ever support the girl. Now fast forward two years. The MIL taunts the girl openly saying she has not learnt Gujarati, can’t make dabeli and dhokla, can’t wear saree Gujrati style and is not fair and good looking. The boy is putting pressure on her to learn all these and more as they are coming here to the US to stay with them for six months.
    My question: Where is the love? Is this even called love?
    2. Both girl and boy are Telugu, but different caste. Now during the wedding the boy was “upset” because the girl’s father had not smiled at one of his uncles. Then the MIL through a tantrum that the saree given to her was of cheap quality, the boy shouted at the girl that they could not even do minimum things while his family had sacrificed so much and agreed for the marriage. These two people were in a relationship for 4 years and it’s been 2.5 years since they are married, but to this day the problems exist. They boy shouts, then girl cries, boy asks forgiveness , girl forgives and the story continues….

    So these are just two examples that I have quoted from the many. Also, if you read the letters written to IHM, all of them have a common theme similar to this. So as a girl who has seen all this, why should I go through a “love marriage” where fundamentally there is no “love”. To begin with I would think twice before leaving my family for a guy because according to me there is no love at all because if there is love and I am marrying for love only, then I will never ask for money, will never care to look at traditions and will never care whether my uncle was greeted or not. All these things can happen in an arranged marriage too, but I think the only comfort people have in arranged marriage is like someone above said it’s like shopping. You can shop around for the best bargain and go according to societal norms and thus spare a lot of trauma. Ultimately be it arranged or love, there is no 100% guarantee.
    Coming to parents and parental approval, it depends on the kind of parents they are. Some parents say no purely for “char log” but there are a good number of parents out there who really point out the red flags. My parents for sure have always helped me in this regard and so have many of my friends parents.
    Coming to age, I think it’s just a number. I guess in India they prefer the boy to be older than the girl because then the boy can dominate over the girl. Other than that I really don’t think age should matter at all.
    A lot of “love marriages” these days are worse than “arranged marriages”. So much drama, so many tantrums and hardly any guy supports the girl he has claimed to love. Automatically by the time of marriage the guy assumes that the girl will listen since she has come this far. And worse is the excuse given by guys that my family agreed for the wedding so now everything has to go according tho their wishes. I feel that a lot of guys these days are going in for love marriage because their demands are getting fulfilled as they also can use the “love” trump card. In an arranged marriage scenario a lot of girl’s families I know have cancelled weddings if they found out that things are not compatible.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Most Indian men don’t want to give up on the heaps of underserved privileges that they receive the day they become a husband. The opportunity to boss over, belittle and dictate terms to another human being is much too tempting.

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      • My family has had mostly arranged marriages so far, and I see mostly partnerships, with division of chores and taking care of each others’ families; that’s why I am still not very used to the idea of this idea of marriage with a docile wife ‘obeying’ her husband.

        And this makes the situation seem even bleaker for any Indian woman choosing not to go down the arranged marriage route…

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    • In that sense, a progressive family can “search” for another progressive family in an arranged marriage. In a choice marriage you have to accept the person and the family as it is.

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  12. I understand that some people don’t want to die… They will be shot dead, call it honor killing. Apart from that some men don’t want to part of their parents wealth. And finally some people do not have the guts to go ahead and put their foot down, tell what they want.

    All I could come up with.

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  13. Indian men in India say they are interested in dating to appear “modern” but leave the decision of long term relationships to their parents because they are passive. It’s also a great “soft no” for them instead of saying, “This isn’t going to work out or go anywhere.”

    princessbutter,
    Do not just swipe right on Indian guys.

    What I would like to know is why so many Desi men on Indian dating sites are so damn passive and lazy.
    When I message someone I like to mention something in their profile. But in years of being on this site I can count on one hand I’ve gotten a personalized message. It’s usually call me at xxxx or email me at yyyy, if that. Then it throws the onus on me to be interested in them as a person and that’s hard when all they list is their occupation and family, and then it’s like they have no idea how to carry on a conversational thread. i’m thinking, “You messaged me, not the other way around.” I always end up calling them, and they respond, not the other way around. They love to hear themselves talk, and I find I have to cut them off, almost rudely if I want to change the topic or get off the phone in less than a half hour. Now these are people who are supposedly looking for Indian women. You’d think they’d try harder, but they don’t. No, it is only Indian women in America who are supposed to be desperate and play silly games so they can feel like they took the initiative.

    If the Indian guys on Tinder are anything like those on Indian dating sites, they’ll expect you to do all of the work in a relationship and will not court you. I’d bet money they’re not restricting themselves to Indian girls. And then these same butthurt Indian men start haunting reddit, “Why don’t gori women like me? Waaah, Indian women are slutty!”

    Hope for love, but don’t stack the deck against yourself.

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    • Most Indian parents confuse education with the hoarding of professional degrees.

      The most important part of parenthood — teaching your kids to treat others well, is almost forgotten in the quest for raising an IIT-IIM graduate or an IAS aspirant.

      When I was on the marriage portals, impersonal one-line messages without a personalized greeting went straight into the trash can.

      It’s a dead giveaway. If a man cannot exert himself for a minute and a half to write a civil, personalized response, what sort of husband is he likely to be?

      I understand that many Indian men find non-professional interactions with women intimidating, but how much effort does a “Hello XY” take?

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Shobit and GGS have captured the main reasons. It’s a combination of their two responses that puts the picture together. First you have a codependent culture that infantalizes people (GGS). Then you have all the entitlement and advantages that must be reaped by the guy’s side (Shobit). Put those two concepts together and we create adult men who are both pampered and entitled, but also strangely dependent on their parents and lacking in any free will. Such a state can only be maintained through an arranged marriage. In a choice marriage, you actually have to work at your relationship, you have to take responsibility for your actions, you have to give and take, you need to respect your spouse’s equal right to happiness – too much baggage, really.

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  15. Largely ,Indian men are lazy,passive,don’t know how to date or talk to girls ! Even on matrimonial sites ,where they are shopping for right fit ,they don’t mention what they have to offer ! Now why would they ,…..this works for them!
    They are going to find a girl who’ll distort and adjust and do things to fit in with the family !
    But Indian women are also lazy at least in a sense,….drummed and drilled to be passive aggressive ! The few women who are sane totally lose taste for ‘love’ after a couple of bad relationships !
    Women are worst critics of the love marriage couple in the family ! All the love marriages I know outside of my family,the women have a tough time with other women !All the insecurity and fear of abandonment comes to fore !
    It makes ‘love marriage’ not worth it !
    I am one such person, who is put off by such Indian ‘love marriages’ ! There is more adjustment required,learn and accept new customs I don’t care about,too much pleasing the in-laws ! Who wants to do all this for guy who can’t stand up for you ?
    And the guy ? He does nothing !
    Its lot of work which I don’t want to do !

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    • So true cossetz…I totally agree with you. As a girl of marriageable age in India, I have had the misfortune of dating some real a*****s and have seen a lot of my cousins, relatives and neighbors and friends getting into a love marriage. I have been observing all these couples right from their days of dating to during the marriage to post marriage – so on an average for about 5-6 years. My observations are very much similar to your observations. All the women had to first please the guy, then his parents, his sister and extended family, the girls parents had to go the guys house to “fix” the wedding which basically meant discussing what to give to whom, long conversations and fights on the phone as the guys side is not happy with things, the girl watching her parents go through all this trauma and the guy watching his family torture another family, the marriage where more drama unfolds, and life post marriage where everyday there is a new complaint – some days it’s because the girl can’t cook, some days it’s because she can’t do anything according to their tastes, some days it’s because she did not do something their way and so on… This pleasing the in laws and striving for their acceptance all in the name of love is something I can never understand. How is this in any way different from an arranged marriage?In all this guy happily stays out of the drama, simply expects the wife to yield. I know of a couple where in the guy is Indian (Telugu) and the girl American, ..She has spent more than half of their married life trying to please people and today she is happy that they have finally accepted her by including her in family functions. When I heard this, it looked more like a war which she won rather than love to me…And this same girl claims that the guy (my cousin) is her soulmate. I am yet to understand how “a soul mate” can make you do so many things and see you struggle so much? But then I just ask too many questions and don’t understand love, at least this is what my cousin’s wife told me.

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      • I see this dynamic a lot with non-Indian women who have married Indian men.

        In their naivete and eagerness to be accepted, they fail to see the unfair, sexist aspects of Indian Culture.

        As Indian women, we know enough about our own culture to spot BS. Non-Indian women don’t have that advantage. As an Indian woman, I can withstand the disapproval I receive for not being a “good Indian woman”.

        Imagine how much more intense the disapproval is for non-Indian women. Imagine the pressure it places on them — having to conform and be accepted into a culture they know little about, or understand very much.

        They are far more vulnerable to emotional manipulation because an inter-racial wedding is seen to be such an insult to Indian parents.

        The sad thing is that the Indian husband places the entire onus of “being accepted” by his family onto the non-Indian wife. Its a test of her commitment and love. If she really loves him, she will jump through hoops to win his family’s approval.

        What a neat trick!

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        • Could not agree more with you Neha…And then these Indian men get a comfortable life abroad, their non-Indian wife would be struggling more than any other Indian girl to please his family and their ever increasing demands, while the guy really has nothing to lose. So it’s again a win-win for these men.

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      • Anon,
        Its not love ! I don’t think there is remotely like love in Indian marriage ! Actually, I don’t really think love as such exist any more among people ! That’s why doing things to win approval is just that – women willingly participate in this drama for acceptance ,so they are not left alone !Those women who don’t participate are isolated in our society and I suspect even in West ! Though degrees may vary !
        The option is to stop doing things to please others and gain their approval at any cost and learn to live without overt romantic type love and see whether the guy respects you ! And well does chores around house etc etc :p

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  16. Why do many young Indian men say they are interested in dating, but leave the decision of anything on the longer term to their parents? Is “my parents wouldn’t approve” a sort of excuse to pre-empt any kind of long-term relationship?
    There is an element of “cool/hip/current/modern” factor associated with dating, especially for guys. Your peers are not going to judge you (negatively) for dating. If anything, you might be slightly looked up to. Your family need not know. Etc. etc. And even if they do come to know, it is likely to be more tolerated.
    When it comes to longer term relationships (and specifically marriage), parents and family can be openly hostile. For someone who fought tooth and nail with the parents to be with the person I wanted to be with (maybe because of it), I understand that it is incredibly difficult. You may lose your entire security net – sure parental/familial support and love may be conditional (for some of us), but most of us are fairly well versed on what those conditions are.
    I am a woman and I have used “my parents wouldn’t approve” line. Because it was an easy cop out. It is even better than “it’s not you, it’s me”. What you am saying is essentially, “It has nothing to do with you but it has nothing to do with my attraction/feelings for you either.” Almost implies, in an ideal world, we would be perfect. It is an easy let down, no?
    In this case, if a girl still chooses to date such a man and maybe get into a short-term relationship, does sex remove all chances of a possible future?
    This I don’t know. Sometimes you cannot pre-empt what may happen.
    Sometimes, it can be a case of wow, this is too good to let go but sometimes, it can also be, well, I never wanted her long-term. I would avoid getting into a short term relationship with someone with a hope of a longer term relationship.
    Having said that, I would have never gotten together with my fiancé if he was not willing to take a day at a time. He is “Muslim”, I am “Hindu” and both sets of parents were expecting arranged marriages. The differences were too big and unworkable to me for the longest time, I could not envision a situation where we would be allowed to be and our families would come around. Except I enjoyed his company and enjoyed fooling around with him (even though it came with the guilt and shame, etc). In the end, we fought tooth and nail to be with each other and live how we wanted (in some ways, we are still fighting I guess).
    How important are age and age difference in a long-term relationship (with the possibility of marriage)?
    Yes, families would disapprove of a younger guy wanting to marry an older woman – the bigger the gap, the stronger the disapproval, I would expect.
    Generally speaking, the younger a person is, the more wary I would personally be of an age gap, more so that which direction the gap is.
    Also, if a couple is compatible (and have worked out their differences, say financial or religious beliefs), then why would any reasonable parent disapprove of the relationship?
    Hah! Because I think parental disapproval is not rational. Fear is not rational. Insecurity is not rational. In my experience, parents will throw all sorts of garbage instead of giving real reasons. Also, the more you differ from the mould, the greater the disapproval. Parents brought you up, they have expectations. Unreasonable, sure, but they are there.
    I have heard of people having to give up someone they are in love with, under family pressure. I do not know if I’m missing something of the larger picture, but how does choosing a partner from the same caste/community assure compatibility and happiness?
    Dealing with your parents’ disapproval when you are in love, excited to be with this person is hard. You don’t tell your parents anything about this other very important person in your life. Your relationship with your parents/family goes through stressful times. There will be ugly times. you disappoint them, they disappoint you. It can be rather lonely at times too, actually. Especially if your immediate circle marries along the same caste/community lines.
    Choosing a partner from the same caste/community may not assure personal compatibility and happiness, but it does assure acceptability and belonging. And you have not chartered unknown territories, you feel you know (even if it is just a perception) the narrative for what your life will be. I think there is some comfort in that.

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    • First of all, I wish you all the happiness in the world.
      I admire the way you fought for what you believe in and went after what you wanted.It must not be an easy task to convince one’s parents to accept our choice of a partner from a different religion (even if a common culture is shared).My ex had a deep rooted fear that I would “MAKE” him convert (muslim on my side), an insecurity on which his parents played I am sure.
      In these conditions if you have not a strengh of characted and faith in the other to resist the pressure and know that nobody can and should be allowed to make you do something you don’t want to, you abandon the fight very easily.
      So I just wanted to show my appreciation in your willingness to “charter unknown territories”.

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  17. ” The Indian Man’s”, self esteem, various complexes ( both inferiority and Superiority ) as well as his status depends on his parents’ state of being. For the Indian men, his parent’s are his “izzat”. Can’t you see every Indian Bolywood hero mouths the words, ” mere maa-bapp ke bare me kuch bola toh tera khoon pi jaaonga !!! Like India’s daughter, there is also something called India’s “maa-baap” !! An Indian men may not have money or class or education but he always has “izzat” which comes from having a set of parents no matter how evil that set of parents are -parents will always be parents like boys will be boys and things like that. The Indian men do not derive his sense of anything from himself ( even if he has worked hard to stand on his own feet ) , he attributes everything to his parents. Surprisingly, the Indian women though she respects her own parents does not derive her identity from her parents nor depend on them at least not so much like the Indian men. That is why, Indian Men are so afraid to displease their parents whereas Indian women are not so. Its a also case of sharing the benefits of an interdependent or co-dependent personality -where patriarchal benefits would be lost if he marries outside patriarchal norms, -by patriarchal benefits I mean, not having to keep close ties with the wife’s parents, not having to do housework, and being able to dominate the new wife (which is easier than dominating the old girlfriend who knows too or asks too much) etc.etc.

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  18. ***long comment alert*****

    Wow, reading this makes me thank god, the universe and every higher power at my amazing good fortune. No I’m not gloating, My husband seems like hes from another planet when compared to these men. Maybe its because he lost both parents in his teens?? i don’t think so from what i know of them ( all hearsay) they were rebels too, they married by their choice and his mum was quite a strong woman who decided she would have only 1 child since she felt that was enough inspite of pressure from her inlaws and parents. her husband simply told them to mind their business. so maybe my husband has it in his genes to brook no interference.
    I was told to leave if i choose to marry him s- why i dont exactly know, so i did. I think for the most part we have lead a charmed life. absolutely no interference at all. 0% . lately for the past 4yrs my parents are trying to be in our life. and maybe because im an outsider i see so much wrong with their beliefs and way of life. they and my dads brothers and the harm they inflict on the younger generation in the name of culture. so many unhappy DILs , stuck with no choice. They even tried to tell me how i should behave – ofcourse all in name of culture ( kalacharam) , luckily for me i’ve been free too long. so after a shock to my system , some introspection and a chat with hubby we decided it was best they we meet them only for short social occasions and that too together. I do however give my kids free reign in interacting with them. its imp for the boys to know good and the bad. and oh boy do they try to mould them.They have this innate sense of interference and thinking that elders know best and everyone should bow down to respect their wisdom ( even if they are complete idiots).
    The boys try and correct them,🙂 they listen since they are worried the boys will complain to me and I’ll recall access . which i would never do, They are old enough to know their minds and who they deal with is their choice.
    I see a slow difference , i hear snippets where the older generation is afraid to expose my family to theirs i see them worried that their DILS will want the same lifestyle and i have also heard a couple uncles agree that maybe our lifestyle is good for marriage but then what about old parents!! i think they know they are selfish when they control their DILs/ wives who have no choice but there’s also a thread of fear that they may be left all alone or dumped.
    well sum total is all the young girls in the extended family seem to like views like my sons hold..and i see the DILS kind of tell their sons off when they do stupid things.slow change too slow for my taste.
    but i again refrain from too much contact, i simply don’t seem to like them.very selfish people is what i see.dont seem to want the best for their kids.

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  19. LW, another way you might want to look at this is to set aside culture and apply universal values in assessing a man as a potential boyfriend. What would you look for in a man? In terms of universally accepted values, most people want the other person to be honest, mature, responsible, independent, trustworthy, etc. In such a scenario, the man under consideration must also make his own decisions regarding marriage, correct? If he must obey his family in this regard, then it goes against free will and independence. And this would be your reason not to pursue him. Regardless of cultural influences, we must all act like adults. If we want to be children, we will be treated like children, and we are clearly not ready for relationships. I find that using culture to explain someone’e behavior is useful to some extent. Bu ultimately they must be judged on who they are as individuals, if you are going to enter into a relationship with them. In other words, if you are going to date an Indian man or any other man, it makes sense to hold him up to whatever standards you expect in a relationship, and not try to forgive lapses in values based on cultural conditioning.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I (the LW) agree with what you say about universally accepted values. (In addition to the few you have mentioned above, my list has a sense of humour, broad-mindedness and doing his share of household chores).
      I find that many young men who are otherwise independent (they live on their own, even in cities other than where they live – so they’re financially independent and they choose the kind of life they want, be it friends or hobbies) still choose to get married to a girl of their parents’ choice. So would you say they are not completely independent?

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      • Well lets not just limit the arguement to men, Women do the same lot of times when they give up and cant stand up for their love in front of their parents. Men are more mama’s boy after marriage though but when it comes to the commitment, i think both men and women gives the excuse of not going against their parents when in real they simply wanna break up.
        I have seen my girl friends falling madly in love with a guy and had an affair for almost 2 years, but opted to marry the guy in arrange marriage because she couldnt convince her family as the guy from diff caste.
        Men are generally commitment phobic, women are generally commitment-oriented. There is no hard and fast rule to this. It really depends on individuals

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      • No, they are not (independent) if parents choose their life partner for them. This is such a subjective decision and a critical one. How can someone else decide this?

        Another important thing to observe is how he treats other women in his life – his mother, sister(s), friends, colleagues. Does he have a healthy relationship with his mother (affectionate/reasonable/responsible/helps her with chores as opposed to overly attached and babied)? Does he treat his female co-workers as equals? Is he comfortable with women in general or does he find platonic friendships with women inconceivable?

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  20. **In this case, if a girl still chooses to date such a man and maybe get into a short-term relationship, does sex remove all chances of a possible future?**

    I just want to highlight one thing here, sex should not be the reason to secure the relationship or to catch the guy or hold back the guy to keep his interest alive in the relationship. When you really love someone, girl or guy, you would want to marry the person, sex comes last in the picture. I know friends who were childhood sweethearts and never had sex until they got married. Have another set of friends who were regular in sex for 5 years before finally tying the knot.
    And have few more friends who were regular in sex but fell in love with other. So sex is not definite parameter for saving or breaking the relationship.
    Having sex with partner should not be linked with having future together or not because you can nto predict future. Live in present and live your life.

    Love
    FS

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    • I agree with you – the question is more a variation of the ‘why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?’ theme – I am not sure how common that attitude is, given how taboo sex (or even talking about it) is in our country.

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  21. Since the topic is arranged marriage, I wanted to ask if anyone saw the movie “Kalyana Samayal Sadham”? This movie is basically about how two people meet through a matrimonial site and it’s a very good take on arranged marriages. I liked this movie a lot as it dealt with a very delicate topic of “erectile dysfunction” albeit temporarily in the groom and how the couple deal with it. I liked the movie because:
    1. Though it’s a proper arranged marriage, the guy always stands up for the girl at least in most scenes. He sends an invitation on FB to the girl which she does not accept immediately. He is not put off or hurt by this, instead he earns her trust and friendship and she later accepts his friend request. Once, she accepts his friend request he does not treat it as some victory but is genuinely happy.
    2. When the marriage hall is not available due to some reasons and the girl’s parents are stressed about it, he quietly convinces his family for a wedding in the girl’s village. He does not make a scene nor does he let his parents talk.
    3. The girl for once is shown to be independent in her thoughts though she wants to get married the arranged marriage way. She takes her time to say “yes” to the boy and not once does she try to impress him.
    4. She goes drinking with him and later on they come home and try to get between the sheets and that’s when they realize that he has “performance anxiety”. He panics but she tries to calm him down and assures him it will be ok.
    5. Some days before the wedding, when he tells her that she deserves a better person with no “issues” she tells him that sex is important but that she loves him and asks him to seek help and sort it out and not cancel the wedding.

    Though in the second half there are some irritating scenes where the hero becomes a “mamma’s boy”, the heroine does not tolerate it and gives it back to him. For once a Tamil film heroine is openly shown to be talking about sex and is shown to be independent in her life. It’s a huge move from the normal tamil heroine who will happily go with the hero. I would recommend people to watch this movie.

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  22. I’d say there’re a few reasons (discussed by everyone above)

    1. It’s far more financially beneficial for a man to marry someone of their parents’ choice as they’ll probably be getting tons of financial ‘presents’ (aka dowry by another name) from the bride’s side. It also guarantees a relatively younger wife who’s far more docile and sheltered who’ll be a bride/ maid.

    2. Some men just do not have the strength to fight years of conditioning even though they may genuinely want to date and marry someone of their choice (which begs the question, why do they date in the first place?)

    3. So why do men like those in #2 date in the first place?

    a) sex. they’re from a truly patriarchal background and they think they’ll have sex with a ‘girlfriend’ but marry a ‘virginal wife.’

    b) they may also be super weak and confused people (as per their upbringing)–they want to live their own lives but just lack the backbone (aka balls). these are people to be pitied.

    In any case, I’d say if you want to date Indian men, avoid the ones from a conservative background to be safe. Sure you may end up with someone who genuinely wants to be more liberal and has the strength to overcome years of psychological conditioning, but that’s more of the exception than the rule.

    The rule is either a or b–an asshole or someone to be pitied.

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  23. Sigh sigh… 2015 and still the same story for us Indians.
    Women must stop romanticizing about marriages and also stop looking at it like this huge cross which they must bear alone. Before getting into a marriage, wouldn’t it help to make sure that the guy matches your “requirements”? Not the caste, money, professional degree sham but the meaningful stuff such as his values, ideas about gender equality, respect for lesser priveleged etc. We go through more rigorous screening while picking out a car, a college, a house – then why be so casual when it comes to your partner?
    Also like the commenters above I have seen all type of abuse in a so called love marriage. Such love marriages are just another form of arranged marriages which strengthen the ladkewale/ladkiwale BS.
    Will close with my own story🙂 My parents were getting ready to meet my would be fiancé (now husband) just two days before our engagement. Of course, I had chosen him and my parents fully trusted my decision. It has been like this ever since I remember. So we were just getting into a car and my dad tells me, listen I know the guy must be one in million because you like him but if anybody from his family makes any comment about us being the ladkiwale ( muli kadche, in Marathi), the marriage is off. I smiled at him, my face aglow with pride for my feminist dad and mumbled, of course. My uncles were shocked to see my dad talk about breaking marriage stuff which they thought was in auspicious. But my dad, a man of few words said, I only want the love and respect and happiness my daughter deserves – that’s the only auspicious thing that matters.🙂 I don’t know how I managed to hold off my happy tears then, cause once they flow, they don’t stop!

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  24. To the letter writer: In my opinion, any man who thinks that he should even try to seek his parents approval before marrying a girl of his choice is not really ready for marriage. It is as simple as that. Any parents who object to the choice of their kids for their partners are either not grown up themselves or have failed to raise adults that they feel the need to intervene. Seriously speaking, most of the times when parents object to the choice of their kids, they do it out of some very selfish reason. Apart from spotting some fatal flaw in the partner ( like criminal history, violent past, financial debt that their child is themselves not aware of) I really think it is none of parent’s business to object to choice of a partner. I do not blame the parents, they are themselves stuck by pressures of an unfair society, but that does not take away the fact that their behaviour is unreasonable.

    As a child, if your parents behave in this manner, you really do not owe them anything by not being an adult. It is no service to them or any one. In many cases, the parents are plain abusive and want to sell their kids off. You do not owe it to them. However, in my opinion most of the time when guys say that they can’t go against their parents will because they do not want to hurt them, they are not being honest. Basically what they mean to say is that I do not want to cut off from a system that benefits me greatly. In most cases they know that the parents are gonna hitch them up with some girl whose status and family will be very useful for them. ( Its true for women as well, I have seen many self proclaimed liberated women taking the arranged route as they know it will get them a great match in terms of financial status, strengthening of family connections and/or class/cast matching which is comfortable for them).

    I married against my parent’s will but I did not give them much to argue. I just informed them that I am going to marry although in my case they did need me very much in terms of financial help. I think anyone who brings up this excuse basically does not want to go out of their comfort zone.

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  25. The answer is herd mentality.
    It’s convenient, tried and tested by others before us, hence nothing wrong with it.
    It is responsible for most evils.

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    • Well lets not just limit the arguement to men, Women do the same lot of times when they give up and cant stand up for their love in front of their parents. Men are more mama’s boy after marriage though but when it comes to the commitment, i think both men and women gives the excuse of not going against their parents when in real they simply wanna break up. I have seen my girl friends falling madly in love with a guy and had an affair for almost 2 years, but opted to marry the guy in arrange marriage because she couldnt convince her family as the guy from diff caste. Men are generally commitment phobic, women are generally commitment-oriented. There is no hard and fast rule to this. It really depends on individuals No, they are not (independent) if parents choose their life partner for them. This is such a subjective decision and a critical one. How can someone else decide this?Another important thing to observe is how he treats other women in his life – his mother, sister(s), friends, colleagues. Does he have a healthy relationship with his mother (affectionate/reasonable/responsible/helps her with chores as opposed to overly attached and babied)? Does he treat his female co-workers as equals? Is he comfortable with women in general or does he find platonic friendships with women inconceivable?To the letter writer: In my opinion, any man who thinks that he should even try to seek his parents approval before marrying a girl of his choice is not really ready for marriage. It is as simple as that. Any parents who object to the choice of their kids for their partners are either not grown up themselves or have failed to raise adults that they feel the need to intervene. Seriously speaking, most of the times when parents object to the choice of their kids, they do it out of some very selfish reason. Apart from spotting some fatal flaw in the partner ( like criminal history, violent past, financial debt that their child is themselves not aware of) I really think it is none of parent’s business to object to choice of a partner. I do not blame the parents, they are themselves stuck by pressures of an unfair society, but that does not take away the fact that their behaviour is unreasonable.As a child, if your parents behave in this manner, you really do not owe them anything by not being an adult. It is no service to them or any one. In many cases, the parents are plain abusive and want to sell their kids off. You do not owe it to them. However, in my opinion most of the time when guys say that they can’t go against their parents will because they do not want to hurt them, they are not being honest. Basically what they mean to say is that I do not want to cut off from a system that benefits me greatly. In most cases they know that the parents are gonna hitch them up with some girl whose status and family will be very useful for them. ( Its true for women as well, I have seen many self proclaimed liberated women taking the arranged route as they know it will get them a great match in terms of financial status, strengthening of family connections and/or class/cast matching which is comfortable for them).I married against my parent’s will but I did not give them much to argue. I just informed them that I am going to marry although in my case they did need me very much in terms of financial help. I think anyone who brings up this excuse basically does not want to go out of their comfort zone.

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  26. To the young girl, who wrote in,

    Firstly, to your question – “Why do many young Indian men say they are interested in dating, but leave the decision of anything on the longer term to their parents?” –

    This is often done by women too. So it’s not a question of one sex (gender), let alone a question of sex (the act). The ‘Why’ is irrelevant. In this situation, you need to ask yourself what you seek from the prospective reln. If it’s a future, and this is the excuse you get from the man, run in the opposite direction. He’s pre-empting, yes. Isn’t it obvious? You both want different things from it. So it isn’t healthy. Period. You’ll eventually meet someone who wants a future, and it’ll make much more sense to give that a shot. Also, not all young Indian men will say this. Believe me. Some men want a stable future more than anything else.

    The same goes for the age excuse. Age, money, caste, religion – all fall under the excuses category for dodging long-term relns- by both men and women. Having said that, yes, in India, unlike the West, a marriage is a family institution. The whole family, on both sides, is a part of it, not just a spectator. So all kinds of social pressures play a role. But personally, i believe if one is in love, these factors don’t really come in the way, unless one wants them to. So, if the terms “family wouldn’t approve” come up from the other end, run and don’t look back. It’s not going to happen. In the words of Hollywood, “He isn’t that into you.”

    Secondly, if you have understanding parents who would approve of whichever man you bring home, go ahead and choose a man whom you understand, and who’d stand by his choice. Age/caste no bar. And please do not look at all men the same way. They aren’t.

    – A young Indian man equally perplexed by confused young women around

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    • Thank you, Sumeet…

      I agree that women sometimes do the same, too… I know of something of this sort happening with only one male friend, but at least 3 more female friends, and I thought this blog would help me gain insights from men, something I otherwise wouldn’t have access to.

      And of course, not all men are the same🙂 Nor are the women.

      My parents would approve if I take a man home, and even if they do not approve completely, we can sit and discuss why and see how things go. That’s another reason I wrote in – maybe it’s just a phase, but the men I have been coming across of late seem to be giving the ‘parents won’t approve’ excuse. (I’m glad I’m at least not wasting my time). And I certainly do have expectations (which seem reasonable to me). I wrote in because I was perplexed and a bit disillusioned by the men I was meeting, and the whole matrimonial sites – arranged marriage thingie which I’m not keen on seems to be the only option left (the pressure to get married sometimes gets to me, no matter how hard I try to resist it).

      (Thanks for giving me back the hope that such good/sensible men exist even in India🙂 )

      Good luck!

      Like

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