Arranged ‘Dating’ Is Fast Replacing Arranged ‘Marriages’ In India. Here’s How

Posted on March 19, 2016 in Society

By Srinivas Krishnaswamy:

Indian weddingWith changing lifestyle, increasing urbanization, greater exposure to western culture and media, our opinions about love and marriages are changing rapidly. When it comes to arranged marriages, Indians seem to have a love-hate relationship! There are several reasons why arranged marriages can have a polarizing effect on our society.

One of the torch bearers of this rapidly changing attitude towards arranged marriages. There is a phenomenal growth of dating apps and dating sites for everyone it seems, young singles, senior singles and everyone in between is jumping on board. The idea of finding your match through dating has caught on in a big way! Some of us even hail this trend as a sign of women’s liberation.

Then there are online matrimony sites. Some young, educated, Indians are disgusted at the thought of being “sold and traded” by their parents through matrimony sites. Parents with limited personal/friend networks don’t have any other option other than to use these online matrimony sites. Matrimony sites have themselves to blame for just mimicking archaic practices and making them available online.

So, does this mean that the end of arranged marriages is just round the corner?

If you just nodded your head in agreement, think again! There are several reasons why arranged marriages will not disappear as fast as you think they will.

Arranged Marriages Have Always Evolved And Will Continue To Evolve

Indians are masters in embracing the new and the old. We drive around in fancy, state-of-the-art cars but make sure we have a Ganesha idol on the dashboard.

You would have noticed that wedding rituals have been evolving with every generation discarding some practices and embracing new traditions. For example, my grandparents had a 5-day wedding while mine was over in a day. The idea of hosting a reception was unheard of when my grandparents got married.

Similarly, the practice of arranged marriages has always been changing since my grandfather got married. He met my grandmother only on the day of the wedding! This practice has more or less disappeared among educated middle-class/upper-class Indians and, hopefully, people even among other sections of our society will stop this practice eventually.

With greater education and economic independence, young men and women prefer to have a say in choosing their partner for marriage. The 2014 India Human Development Survey validates this trend. Greater say in choosing a partner for marriage doesn’t necessarily mean love marriages. It just means, arranged marriages are evolving to keep pace with a changing society.

Swiping Right And Wrong

The idea of going out on a date has caught on in big cities and even smaller towns. However, dating itself is a relatively new trend in India. In fact, some of the popular dating sites in India proclaim to be in the business of ‘matchmaking’ as opposed to dating. Also, there seems to be a clear distinction between “serious” dating and ‘Tinder-style’. Ever wondered why?

Indian society is by and large conservative. The idea of a casual relationship has not yet become so popular and we do not know if casual dating and live-in relationships will ever become an accepted norm.

Here is a firsthand account of how the clash between short-term trysts and long-term relationships can result in wasted efforts even when using dating sites – “So I liked this guy. He was very good looking with a gym-toned body. He had also liked my profile so we were matched. We communicated over WhatsApp, finding out things about each other and then he suggested we meet. For the next few days, I was on cloud nine. I had this massive crush on him, but I called it off because I was not looking for one-night stands.”

If you are assuming dating will completely replace arranged marriages anytime soon, think again. In general, Indians are confused when it comes to dating. There is a constant struggle to portray a different image to close family and friends while at the same time a temptation to meet new people. This cultural tug-of-war will probably go on for some more time.

Meeting In The Middle

Arranged marriages do have their advantages and it’s not always bad. Listen to what  western experts have to say about this. Robert Epstein, a senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavior Research and Technology says, “Parents screen for deal breakers. More disturbing, your arranged marriage probably won’t be much different from your “free-range” marriage.”

Stanford University’s Michael J. Rosenfeld says“The people we end up married to or partnered up with end up being similar to us in race, religion and class background and age, which means that they might not be all that different from the person that your mother would have picked for you.”

I see a distinct possibility of arranged marriages and dating coming together in India. If I were to look through a crystal ball, I see “Arranged Dating” as a distinct possibility.

Personally, I have seen many of my relatives go through an “arranged love marriage”. Even in the traditional arranged marriage process, some families give their children the freedom to meet the prospective match on one-on-one date(s) before a decision is made. Irrespective of how you get matched, the extent of freedom you have to say yes or no is bound to increase as rigid attitudes about relationships outside marriage tend to mellow down with every new generation.

In India, old concepts don’t die. They just take a completely different form. Alien concepts introduced into the country without accounting for local cultural preferences and idiosyncrasies die a natural death. This is a lesson that’s impacted me personally as well. The debate between dating and arranged marriage was raging in mind before I launched Jodi Logik. I had initially named it Love Logik and later changed the name to give it a unique Indian identity.

It will be an understatement to say that India is a unique culture and society. The reason India has retained its uniqueness is because of the amazing ability to absorb new ideas and give it a completely new twist! Arranged marriage is yet another example of an age old tradition morphing into something else that’s uniquely Indian. I personally do not believe that arranged marriages will disappear completely but as with many other “Indian” ideas, it will evolve, adapt, and continue to thrive.