Beggars can't be choosers?
April 8, 2009 8:20 AM   Subscribe

I think she likes me. I think I like her. Do I marry her? Context: Arranged marriage

I'm 26. Since forever, I've never had a woman that I was interested in romantically reciprocate a romantic interest. Maybe I was socially awkward, maybe I wasn't physically attractive enough, who knows.

At some point I accepted that women I was interested in were not attracted to me romantically.

Well, my parents asked me to consider an arranged marriage. After all, it's in my family culture. So I started meeting parents and their girls of marrying age. Even here, I had no luck until this past weekend where a girl indicated an interest in me.

Great news except now I feel pressured. I will get a chance to talk to her but I can't imagine 30 minutes, or even an entire day of conversation will reveal the kind of details about a person acquired through months and years of dating.

I guess my real concern is my ability to attract a companion in general. There are a limited number of women that will be matched up with me in this process. How do I identify the one that I should be asking to marry me?

If you had an experience with an arranged marriage, please do chime in.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (23 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
A friend got in an arranged marriage here in the states. He was Indian. From India, his mom found him a woman of indian origin in NYC. Meanwhile, he broke the heart of one of the most beautiful women I have ever met to marry the other woman.

The marriage ended in divorce.

He's asking his mom to find him another arranged marriage.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:22 AM on April 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Talk to other married adults in your cultural situation, and not just your parents. Ask them one to one what they did? What is it like, how do you make those steps towards choosing etc.

My best friend converted to Islam and is going through an arranged marriage right now, a prospect I do find scary. But she has been talking a great deal to older people in her community about what to expect, and on a one to one basis they have been very honest with her about how the whole process works. I think being forewarned about anything is the best possible plan.
posted by Augenblick at 8:31 AM on April 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


I will get a chance to talk to her but I can't imagine 30 minutes, or even an entire day of conversation will reveal the kind of details about a person acquired through months and years of dating.

Is there any reason you have to get married immediately? Why can't you date? Just because you met through this venue doesn't mean you can't do the other stuff non-traditionally, right? (Disclaimer: I do not understand arranged marriage at all, so forgive my ignorance w/r/t the post-meet protocols.)
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:33 AM on April 8, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm not very familiar with arranged marriages, but I'm wondering whether you could just go out on some dates with her, or at least correspond with her if she lives far away. Is it written in stone that you can't get to know her better before proposing?
posted by amtho at 8:35 AM on April 8, 2009


I don't know if you're Indian and in the US, but I notice lots of parents of ABCDs here actually send a prospective couple on a trip to spend time together. Maybe you guys can meet in Hawaii or something.

Also, you won't know if someone is the person you "should" be asking to marry you. But I think talking to the person is a good start, especially about what you want the marriage to be like on a daily basis.
posted by anniecat at 8:59 AM on April 8, 2009


I think that it is a catastrophically bad idea to marry anyone because you're worried that you won't find anyone else. The arranged-marriage part is irrelevant.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 9:09 AM on April 8, 2009 [11 favorites]


"Since forever" and "never" seem like strange terms from the lips of a 26 year old. Nonetheless, follow some of the other posts and pursue whatever due dilligence is appropriate, if possible, before committing.
posted by css28 at 9:19 AM on April 8, 2009


Women I [am] interested in [are] not attracted to me romantically.


False. False false false. Unless you have an unrealistically high standard for partnership, you can find someone.

Sure, go for an arranged marriage, but that's fixing a problem that doesn't exist and perhaps distracting yourself from the real one: your self-conception of romance as inherently failed.

It's not.
posted by trotter at 9:22 AM on April 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm South Asian, and I'm going through what you are going through as well.

In order to keep your sanity, I would suggest the following:

1. Have your parents screen the girl.
2. Insist on talking to her a few times. The thing with chemistry (for me, at least) is that I can tell if I click with a person.
3. Ask her about herself in depth. What are her dreams and aspirations?
4. Look at her family. Are they close knit or do they appear to be distant from each other?
5. Don't be afraid to say no. If it's not going to work out and you know it, don't let your folks pressure you.

You also seem to have a similar self-esteem issue I had. Why are the women you are attracted to not attracted to you? Is it because you look only at physical characteristics? I've found, in my limited experience, that you need to give everyone a fair shake. You never know who you might click with.

Good luck, and you can MeMail me if you want to talk more or need more advice.
posted by reenum at 9:27 AM on April 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Women I [am] interested in [are] not attracted to me romantically.

False. False false false. Unless you have an unrealistically high standard for partnership, you can find someone.


i agree with this. I think everyone, before they get married, should get to the point where they feel confident meeting members of the opposite sex- liking someone and having them like you back.

"Because I cant get anyone else" is not a reason to get married, and it's not love. If you DO get married under these circumstances, this is what I fear will happen:

A few years will pass. You'll gain confidence, from being secure in your marriage, and because that's what happens as people get older. You'll start to notice other women, and resent that you never gave yourself a chance to truly explore and find someone ideal for you- who you really wanted, and who wanted you back.


I'm not saying the arrangement couldn't work- it could. But I'd tread very cautiously, and examine your own motivations. If you're going to do it, do it for the right reasons.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:47 AM on April 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


sorry I meant:

"Because I believe I cant get anyone else"

That word is important, because the belief is in all likelihood not accurate.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:49 AM on April 8, 2009


I know a couple of people who have had arranged marriages, and who are very happy in them. (And I mean "happily married for 15+ years" here.)

Well, let me step back a bit. They had arranged introductions, and they spent time together, and they really dug each other, so they told their parents to go ahead with the marriage arrangements.

There was an article in the Boston Globe this Sunday by someone who had had a similar experience.

I can't imagine 30 minutes, or even an entire day of conversation will reveal the kind of details about a person acquired through months and years of dating.

Here's the secret: people from other cultures often get engaged to people they've known only a short time.

My husband and I were engaged after six weeks of dating (though he had decided he wanted to marry me three weeks after we met, it took me a little longer). Both my parents and his were engaged after similarly short times. We have other friends who were engaged within a month of meeting each other.

So maybe if you look at this as an arranged introduction, and get to know the women you are introduced to over several meetings, you'll wind up with someone who's the right partner for you.

Yes, it's not the same as Western-style dating, partly because chaperones might be involved, and partly because you're not having sex on the third date. But if you're not comfortable with Western-style dating, why not go for it in a cultural context you do find comfortable?

If it's important to you to marry someone who shares your cultural background, and your cultural background is not one in which dating is encouraged or even permitted, this is going to be the way you'll meet your future spouse.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:26 AM on April 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


People from other cultures often get engaged to people they've known only a short time.

But those couples also have different styles of marital relationships. Don't expect to find a spouse through the methods of one culture, then have a marriage based on the values of another culture.
posted by msittig at 11:40 AM on April 8, 2009 [5 favorites]


But those couples also have different styles of marital relationships. Don't expect to find a spouse through the methods of one culture, then have a marriage based on the values of another culture.

This is a good point.

I was just suggesting that the OP might have a mistaken impression of how long people who found their spouses through Western-style dating had known each other.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:09 PM on April 8, 2009


"Because I cant get anyone else" is not a reason to get married, and it's not love.

I agree with this. You haven't mentioned any personal belief that prevents you from Western dating. You feel like you haven't had luck with Western dating so you want to use this option to get a mate.

The important words are use and get. You wish to enter a life-changing arrangement with an other person in order to bypass an issue of your own. It's an act of convenience, and needless to say, it's exploitative.

Don't forget what the implications are to this person if you and she divorce. It might be helpful to spell them out and use them to consider whether you would like to 1. use the arrangement method to get a partner, 2. give dating another try, or 3. improve your moral position prior to any further attempts to partner.

I'm not saying don't enter an arranged marriage. I'm saying an arranged marriage is inappropriate given the motivations you've expressed here.
posted by halonine at 12:52 PM on April 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I got engaged the day before my first date.

Our next anniversary will be our 26th.

We're Western.

All I can tell you is make very sure you each have the same values. Discuss children, money, things like that.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:59 PM on April 8, 2009


I think she likes me. I think I like her. Do I marry her?

Arranged or not, if you need to ask some bunch of strangers on the internet then something is surely amiss.
Why do you want to get married? Do you know?

Your real problem seems to be the thing you are concerned about. Working on this would hopefully make the other part clearer. I'd listen to drjimmy.

Since you say this is your family culture, how about asking the family about it to gain more insights?
posted by xm at 1:05 PM on April 8, 2009


Don't forget what the implications are to this person if you and she divorce.
posted by halonine at 2:52 PM on April 8


The most important words written in any response here -- great call, halonine...
posted by dancestoblue at 1:35 PM on April 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


What I'm reading between the lines is that he is a tad interested because she indicated an interest in him.

If I had a nickel from my younger days for every time a girl I was not very interested in and later it was told to me that she liked me...she suddenly became somewhat if not very attractive.

Don't become interested just because she's interested in you.
posted by teg4rvn at 2:22 PM on April 8, 2009


I know it's hard. I know the pressure must be mounting from your family to "chose the right girl soon", particularly if you've been through the arranged marriage circuit for a while.

That still doesn't mean you should take the decision lightly. All my relatives around your age that agreed to arranged marriages added the caveat that they must be able to know their potential future partner for six months to a year before they gave the final agreement. This may mean anything from letters and phone calls to meetings at home to actual dates!

My family is very, very conservative but they also live in a Western country and realise it's too hard to expect their own children to agree to marriage after only one meeting.

If you think there could actually be something between the two of you, then push for extra time. This is a life-altering decision you're making and you can't rely on your parents to lead you out of any mess that may eventuate.
posted by liquorice at 3:35 PM on April 8, 2009


You say that you asked your parents to arrange your marriage to spur all this, so I'm assuming that means they're not forcing you to get an arranged marriage, just that they're happy to do it if that's what you want.

Since your parents were/are willing to let you date people, then why not let them arrange for people that you can date without the pressure to marry? The problem would be finding another willing family who knows it won't necessarily end in marriage, but I know a handful of Indian families whose children are born in the U.S. that seem very willing to do this for their children. I'm not sure if Muslim parents are the same way, if you're Muslim. It's worth asking, though, in my opinion.

Even if they say no, the two of you don't necessarily have to listen to your parents; you're 26. It could cause some friction not to listen, of course, but hey. If she wants to date you, it'd be a shame to not give it a shot.

I think marrying her could be bad for both of you, though. It could work out, but there'd be too much luck involved, I think. I agree with the others who say that marrying someone because you don't think anyone else will be willing is a recipe for disaster, arranged or not.
posted by Nattie at 5:57 PM on April 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


You should also spend some time thinking about what marriage means to you.

Do you expect it to be a love-fest, with hearts pitter-pattering and wild, passionate embraces?

Do you expect it to be a loving and respectful partnership, with shared values and similar life goals?

Do you expect it to be a formality, an arrangement in which you can find companionship and have children?

If you can narrow down what you want out of marriage, you'll be better able to judge your possible success with an arranged marriage.
posted by agentwills at 9:37 AM on April 9, 2009


You need more self-confidence. Damn. I guess that's another question.

I know lots of people who have had arranged marriages. Lots and lots. In my parents generation people would meet one week, decide they are good to go, and be married the next week. (Or so it seems, anyway.) It seems ridiculous to me now, but then most people in their generation have happy and successful marriages. I only know a handful of people who have gotten divorced. Nowadays things don't seem to move that fast. Couples chat on the phone, by email, in person, etc, till they are both comfortable with each other. I have several cousins (and a few friends) who have had arranged marriages where things went like this. They also are happy, etc. Do you actually have to decide things right away? If you do in fact need to decide things after a 30 minute conversation, and aren't comfortable doing that, then maybe this isn't the right route for you to take. (Actually, clearly it isn't.) In all cases, the people were marrying someone they wanted to, not someone they felt obligated to for any number of reasons.

Anil Dash wrote a great article on marriage that touches on arranged marriages briefly. It is worth a read:
The defining trait of marriage in these contexts is that the commitment comes first. It doesn't occur to most people to get upset that they don't get to choose their siblings; You just love your brother or sister, or you try to, and you fight sometimes and you disagree, and then you get over it, and that's what family is about. And in some ways, marriage can be like that, too. There's a liberation in knowing you don't have an easy out: You know you're going to make it work, and you're not going to give up.
As others have already said, getting married to someone because you don't think you can marry anyone else is unfair to you and to that person. If you are going to marry someone -- and the arranged marriage part is irrelevant -- you should sincerely want to.
posted by chunking express at 12:24 PM on April 15, 2009


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