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Before The Tinder ‘Swipes’, Came The Matrimonial Websites

married women selfish

Like any well-meaning parent, my father wanted me to get married exactly a year before he retired from his government job.  It’s like they have a pre-retirement checklist and getting one’s daughter married is one of the most important items on that list. I was twenty six at that time, a year into a job that I didn’t love or made much money at. Financial stability was nowhere round the corner, and yet I found myself registered on a popular marriage website, filling out my stats, the colour of my eyes and hair, my likes and what I was looking for in a potential partner, expecting a randomly generated algorithm to find me the ‘right guy’.

Women are objectified enough in their daily lives, and here I was putting myself out there for any man with a device and wifi to look at my pictures and send me a request, certainly not to spend the rest of his life with me.

My father, however, thought that the website would find me a suitable boy. He even paid to go for an upgrade to fast track the process. He would ask me every day how the search was coming along as he wanted me married by the end of 2014. I would show him the requests I received from men who looked like sleazy villains from Malayalam movies and he would stop pestering me for a while. I had set my height preference for upwards of five feet ten inch and yet, men who were five feet seven would hit me with a ‘hi’. That was sheer audacity.

I had set my height preference for upwards of five feet ten inch and yet, men who were five feet seven would hit me with a ‘hi’. That was sheer audacity.

Out of the three men I spoke with, one travelled for a living, one worked in the UK and the third studied in the US. Neither was interested in marriage so it baffled me why they were even on a wedding website.  I was guilt-tripped by my family into an orchestrated match-making set-up, but what reason did these men have? What is worse is that every time someone refused my request, my confidence took a beating. I wasn’t looking for a husband; I was looking for validation from strangers. That was my second mistake; the first was letting my father pressurise me into getting onto these sites, no matter how noble his intentions. A few months later, I deactivated my profile.

What is worse is that every time someone refused my request, my confidence took a beating. I wasn’t looking for a husband, I was looking for validation from strangers.

I am sure there are several people out there who found their happy ever after through these sites and several who didn’t – both men and women. Those stories need to be talked about just as much as the other. Tinder was launched in India in 2016 so our sex requirements are being taken care of. Who is to say that before Tinder, a marriage website was not a convenient place for sex-starved men to try to get some action under the pretence of marriage? Parents need to understand that there is no guarantee that a wedding portal would yield a desirable spouse; that there is nothing wrong with the girl if she isn’t finding a match; that it’s okay to have expectations and not lower them to meet a timeline.

Parents need to understand that there is no guarantee that a wedding portal would yield a desirable spouse; that there is nothing wrong with the girl if she isn’t finding a match; that it’s okay to have expectations and not lower them to meet a timeline.

What also bothers me is that the marketing of these websites is predominantly catered towards a woman’s need to find a decent guy to settle down with. It was much later that I came across an advertisement for online matchmaking, from a man’s point of view and thank god for that. I wonder if I would have felt less shameful about being on these sites if in my time, the media had not portrayed online matchmaking as a woman’s last resort.

I understand that more people are now choosing to delay marriage or not marry at all. But I don’t think the institution of marriage is going to get obsolete any time soon. These sites are here to stay, especially for those who don’t have the luxury of dating. And if marriage involves a woman and a man, then it’s high time the matrimonial sites are re-branded as gender-neutral or advertised to show the men wanting a wife as much as it’s impressed upon women that they need a husband.

Shyama Laxman works in London as a sales professional. She eats dal chawal and breathes Bollywood. The views expressed are author’s own. 

Picture Credit: indiiatcnews.com

Also Read: Does Marriage & Baby Talk Set Feminism Back?