A few regular readers have asked me recently why I haven’t written much about dating or Indian men lately. Truth be told, there really isn’t much to tell. I haven’t dated for a long time, and am actually quite happy that way. I do still have some interesting experiences trying to understand men here, but I’ve been precluded from writing about most of them thanks to some male friends who have specifically asked that I don’t write about them. I’ve honoured their requests, but unfortunately it’s meant some of my best material will never be published. But for those of you who know me personally, a couple of glasses of wine should be enough to coax the stories out of me.

I have however observed and learned a lot about Indian women lately by talking to a few single male friends.  I’ve been pondering why so many of my male friends don’t seem to date. These are lovely, eligible, educated, attractive, enlightened and interesting men, yet they seem to be perpetually single. One sighed as he recounted dates that he had been on. Another avoided the question by deflecting it, recounting tales of a female friend who is having trouble finding a potential mate despite “seeing” many men through the arranged marriage circuit. But all had stories of why they don’t really date Indian women.

Dating in India here is mainly for those with an education and some wealth, so these stories really are limited to that section of society. But what I’ve heard from my discussions with my male friends is that they find the expectations of women they meet simply too much. For example one friend recounted sitting on first dates with women and being asked questions about his income. Worse still another was ordered by a potential date that he would need to earn more to support her because she didn’t want to work. Another felt like he was at a job interview when he was given a long laundry list of questions about his future plans and thoughts. There was no romance, no giggling and certainly no anticipation or flirting. Rather these men were being put through an inquisition to see if they were eligible for the role of husband to Daddy’s little princess.

Needless to say there were no second dates. Just a lot of frustration and disappointment.

Even when they meet a woman who does seem like she’s actually interested in them and not their bank balance, they continue to be apprehensive. Some have watched friends marry women who go from being lovely and supportive to domineering and emotionally abusive the minute the wedding sarees have been put away. One commented that it appears as if the love and affection that led to marriage seems to have been a complete farce to just close the deal.

Others have watched newly wed women just quit their job and flat out refuse to contribute financially to the household once they are married, even though there are no children or parents to look after. Here in India, most with means have a maid who cleans and even a cook, so there isn’t much work to be done to maintain the household except boss other people around and attend kitty parties (the term used in India for “ladies who lunch”). It seems while women cling to the idea of female empowerment, some don’t really want to live the reality.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for someone not working if they don’t want to and can afford not to, but surely in a marriage it’s a decision that should be made jointly.

And no, this certainly isn’t every woman. None of my married female Indian friends behave like this. They all work very hard at both their job and their relationships. But I do certainly hear a lot of issues from my male friends who would like nothing more than to settle into a relationship with a great girl who appreciates them for who they are.

I wonder if it’s in part to do with the dating culture. It seems to me that modern India is at a cross-roads when it comes to relationships. One foot is trying to take the western path of dating and finding your own mate, while the other is firmly stepped in tradition which relies on arrangements and nuclear female roles. So while it’s fine to date and find your own mate, dating is still treated by some as if they are just brief introductions that will lead quickly to marriage rather than a prelude to romance and courtship.

While more couples do live together before marriage here, it’s still quite taboo and certainly not the norm. Many people still live with their parents until marriage, and then live with their in-laws, so for them there really is limited scope and places for western-style relationships to develop. One of my platonic friends won’t even allow me in his house because he doesn’t want to explain to his parents who I am, so what hope does he have in building a long-term relationship with someone that lets them see how he behaves in his own space.

No matter how modern many people appear, their lives are still constrained by so many taboos and hidden rules that make being able to date freely difficult. In a weird way, it kind of makes sense that dating for some women has become more like an opportunity to interview someone and close the deal quickly if a suitor is appropriate. They can then do what they wish after marriage, because of course divorce is still considered taboo (although it is increasing, but sadly I suspect not as much as infidelity).

It all makes me sad. Sad for the women who are making these choices to work within the system, and so sad for the great men out there who would make fantastic husbands but of course won’t compromise themselves for it. For them, the feeling that they are not much more than a meal ticket and a credit card is almost palpable. They and their potential wife, deserve so much better.

Tagged on:                                 

12 thoughts on “Dating the Indian Woman

  • October 13, 2014 at 3:16 pm
    Permalink

    Its very good article…..

    Reply
  • September 2, 2014 at 12:47 pm
    Permalink

    I agree with most of what you’ve written. As a woman of 22 years, I still live with my parents and dating is a taboo where my family is concerned. I would like to point out that this stems from a deep-rooted cultural obligation where the young man/woman was not allowed to choose one’s life partner but was reliant on one’s parents to do so. I shudder to even think of an arranged marriage and thank fully in my family we are liberal enough to see that marriage is purely a personal matter. I must say I’m very glad that as a nation we’re truly trying to be more liberal about this! But it isn’t so for many of my friends. Friends who have also had the same educational qualifications and opportunities as I have! They are obliged(or forced with emotional black mail) to marry whomever their family deems as eligible. Sadly not all of us are truly free.

    Reply
    • September 3, 2014 at 12:55 pm
      Permalink

      That’s very sad to hear. I hope things do change quickly so that people can be free to do what they wish with their lives.

      Reply
  • April 12, 2014 at 10:05 am
    Permalink

    Loved this article. Thank you sharing your insight on this topic. 🙂

    Reply
  • April 11, 2014 at 8:25 pm
    Permalink

    This was a great view into dating in India. Dating in America for Indian men amd women also comes with many of these same restrictions and obstacle. This has me thinking to write something similar from an American point of view.

    Reply
    • April 12, 2014 at 6:02 am
      Permalink

      Great, let me know when you’ve written it.

      Reply
  • April 11, 2014 at 7:35 am
    Permalink

    This makes me almost too angry to even articulate. I couldn’t be as sympathetic to this junk. Arranged marriage and this dating muzzle you speak of, has effects far deeper running than inter-personal relationships themselves. It’s part of the very rotten core that’s causing pretty much every sociological problem in India. We don’t have as much to show, as a nation, as we love to think we do.

    Reply
    • April 15, 2014 at 1:10 pm
      Permalink

      I believe you are correct. It is the source of most problems.

      Reply
    • September 4, 2014 at 5:17 am
      Permalink

      Dhillan, Thinking it through on so many different levels, it is easy to understand how the arranged marriage system can be a root cause to so much unhappiness. I cannot imagine it for myself. I hope in the years to come, India will evolve and become more accepting of ones right to marry on the basis they feel is right for themselves.

      Reply
      • September 6, 2014 at 6:56 am
        Permalink

        I hope so too Dee. But India seems to be engaging in a sort of parallel progress not easily referenced in many other societies. Both sides seem to be growing stronger in their convictions – there is a very tiny urban class that is trying to break this mold. Just the same, there are others in a similar socio-economic bracket that continue to hold on, despite a world of exposure and education. Not counting rural societies (except North-East India) where dating simply is moot.

        I’d like to think there’s a more simplistic solution, maybe the dissolution of religious structures? It’s quite interesting to study how this impacts sexual minorities. Legislation too. “The Annihilation Of Caste” – B.R. Ambedkar has some interesting excerpts on how nothing but inter-marriage shall effectively dissolve the caste system. Cannot disagree in any way.

        Reply
  • April 10, 2014 at 3:39 pm
    Permalink

    Really enjoyed this article, succinct and definitely explains a lot!

    Reply
    • April 11, 2014 at 5:18 am
      Permalink

      Thanks Melanie. The response on social media has also indicated that my friends are not alone unfortunately.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: