Living at Home Part 2: No, please do NOT put my profile up on

I have talked a little bit about the process of moving and living at home and some issues it has brought up. I haven’t in a while, but this article in the Huffington Post reminded me that my dad recently, concerned with my lack of romantic prospects in my life, offered, in the most friendly and optimistic way, to create a profile for me in or some such website like that. It was so amusing that I actually laughed, only to realize he was serious.
Although this article is about parents in India trying to set their children living in the US up with potential mates, it captures some of my same reservations, along with a brief discussion of mating practices in modern transnational South Asian culture.

Historically, evolution of matrimonial matchmaking in India can be traced to the late 19th century, said Rochona Majumdar, assistant professor at the University of Chicago’s Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations. Marriages arranged by family, both extended, or by the parent of the man or woman involved, usually were made on the basis of matching income levels, caste and the like. The process of finding a suitable partner went through many changes, said Majumdar.
“First it was through caste journals and caste magazines, gradually it moved to newspapers, now from newspapers to online sites,” she said.
Modern technology, however, highlights the differences in expectations of parents regarding the age at which they think their children should get married and the speed at which they take that step, and, on the other side, the children’s desire to take more time in choosing life partners.
“People who are on the matrimonial Web site probably want to get married soon, and I didn’t want to get married to someone I just met,” said Deokule.

Yeah, I am even more radical than that, I don’t want to get married at all. Plus, I don’t need one more social networking site to bog me down. Dating sucks we all know it and some feel they have to do it. I don’t really do it, that is not because I am against it, but because it is generally a waste of time. But I definitely don’t need my parents helping me out with it. Sorry Dad.

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  • fatima

    shaadi dot com! oh my god i just lol-ed for realz. that website it wack. slash, my mom wants me on there too. too bad there isnt an option for the gays. (shes in denial)
    though sometimes i think it freaks my mom out MORE that im against marriage than the whole gay thing.


    I hate Shaadi and Naseeb (for Muslims). My mom made a fake profile as a joke to upset me and she printed out a profile of an Indian Muslim guy in London and said he’s perfect for me. After I got upset, screamed at her and ranted against matchmaking, she grinned and told me it was all a joke. I felt stupid… lol

  • Buster

    What worked for me: I told my father that I’ll get married after Section 377 is repealed and gay marriage then legalized in India and that if he wants me to get married, he and the family should throw there energies into these tasks. Otherwise, he shan’t find me sitting in the front of the bus turning my eyes from discrimination.
    Okay, it didn’t completely work, but it made most of my family so uncomfortable that they don’t ask very much out of fear that I’ll say such things again.
    Good luck to all with your own solutions!

  • Newbomb Turk

    How much of this is a parent’s craving for grandchildren when they reach a certain age? I’m neither Asian nor female, but when my mom got into her late 40s she started asking me why I hadn’t married and so on.
    That talk pretty much ended when my brother had two kids.

  • dondoca

    What is wrong with being single? For the 21st century, one would think being single is not such a bad thing. I would rather be single and happy than be stuck in a bad relationship.

  • Brandi

    Samhita, my husband’s coworkers are mostly Indian. Some moved to the US only for the job where they are now, but others have been here since college. Almost all of them have allowed their parents to arrange marriages for them, even one friend of ours who until about 2 months before he went back to India for his wedding, was saying he wouldn’t do it. I’ve actually been shocked at how many people who’ve lived here for so long don’t question the practice much.

  • campbellpaige

    Dating is a waste of time? Please elaborate. I am dating, and while I do find it tiring (and depressing sometimes, after a bad one!), I don’t consider it a waste of time any more than talking to a stranger in a coffee shop is a waste of time. Does being against marriage require you to be against dating, simply because once the “end” is removed from the equation, the means are useless?
    I am not ready to get married, and I’m not even sure I want to, but dating allows me to meet and interact with new people I otherwise might not meet in my small circle of friends. There can’t be anything wrong with that, right?

  • Renee

    Good for you for knowing exactly what you want out of life. I decided long ago never to marry.I realized that if I had a long term relationship that I did not need the state, or a religion to validate it. I am continually told that I am “devaluing myself” because I live with someone without the “benefit of marriage}; as though some piece of paper would protect me if he decided to abandon the kids and I, or physically abuse me. The bottom line is, that everyone should be free to do what makes them happy without judgment.

  • Buster

    I’ve actually been shocked at how many people who’ve lived here for so long don’t question the practice much.
    Brandi, I think you have to understand how much our understandings of family, love, and courtship are cultural. It shouldn’t be shocking that different people have different expectations of marriage or that mere exposure to our peculiar American model of these things would swing them into the joys (?!) of romance and courtship as practiced here.
    What I’m getting at is this: I think we should be careful to parse out what Samhita is objecting to. The way I took the post–and I welcome correction if I am wrong–is that one may rightly object to: (a) loving, but overbearing, parents who don’t listen to their smart daughter’s actual wishes; (b) the way in which arranged marriages function to reproduce certain oppressive caste and class relations in India and its diasporic locales; (c) the social expectation that if one isn’t married, one should be working on “solving” that “problem” by means of dating.
    But doing so shouldn’t involve invoking the superiority of one particular set of cultural practices over another. (This is not to say that I think one can’t criticize other cultural practices, but that the grounds should probably be something other than “that’s weird!”)

  • feministinmississippi

    i told my parents to look for “suitable” bangladeshi hindu guys for me because i knew they wouldn’t find any. it was kind of my challenge to them. i think they’ve actually been lazy south asian parents in that they haven’t looked for prospects. i did make clear to them that while they could tell me about eligible guys, i will take all the time i need to make a decision. i think arranged marriage isn’t a bad fallback for immigrants who are tired of being single but have very little chance of finding a compatible partner. i don’t think i’d do it though. i’d rather be single and unhappy that married and unhappy. but since i live in a state not known for diversity, i need all the help i can get in matchmaking.
    and i guess by “dating is a waste of time” Samhita meant that when you don’t see the possibility of having a relationship with someone then dating them is worthless. not all of us have the privileges of the Sex and the City characters!!

  • Lauren

    I live in California, and said a similar thing to my parents, but about Proposition 8.
    I’m not Indian, so it’s not an exact parallel, but my dad is a very conservative Christian who’s against gay marriage and for me settling down with a man (though not until I’m done with grad school).
    My mom was just like, “That’s really awesome! Tell me if you’ve found The One, so we can put him in the Christmas picture, even if you’re not married.”

  • Dee

    I live in India, and remaining single for pretty much all parents here.
    My big grouse is not with arranged marriages but with the way the “negotiations” are structured – I think they are extremely dehumanizing for the women.
    For example, in most cases, it will be only the woman who is asked to provide a photograph – some prospective in-laws even as for both full-length and facial close-up photos!
    Dowry isn’t explicit, but since in most cases the bride has to pay for the wedding and weddings in India involve over 1000 guests – that’s pretty much dowry to me.
    Disgusting case: an acquaintance in India got engaged to a guy in NY who had just flown down for a week – he “saw” three girls and their families on three successive evenings and got engaged on the fourth! Meat market, anyone?

  • ahimsa

    i think arranged marriage isn’t a bad fallback for immigrants who are tired of being single but have very little chance of finding a compatible partner. … since i live in a state not known for diversity, i need all the help i can get in matchmaking.
    I’m not sure whether I’m reading this correctly but are you saying that immigrants will have trouble finding a compatible partner unless it is another immigrant from their country? Or maybe you mean of the same “race”? (e.g. the comment about the lack of diversity) Or is that just your own preference that you’re sharing?
    Leaving aside all the pros/cons of arranged marriage (or any kind of marriage) an immigrant need not marry someone who is from the same nation, caste, religion, race or whatever. I realize that individuals have preferences in these areas but these differences don’t necessarily mean that two people are incompatible.
    I offer my own experience, a white woman happily married to an Indian man for almost 25 years, as a counter example to that theory. :-)

  • Attorney at LOL

    Thanks for sticking up for my rights in such a personal way, you two. I can’t speak for the LGBT community at large, of course, nor for the No on 8 advocacy community, but I can speak for myself, and I can say that it warms the deepest depths of my heart to see straight people giving up their seats in solidarity.
    If you ever get down on yourself and wonder if what you’re doing changes the world, remember how nice you’ve made a really terrible week and a terrible election season for one queer guy in San Diego through a simple act, and how many more lives are brightened in little ways by the things you do. These things add up.

  • jgoreham

    “I realized that if I had a long term relationship that I did not need the state, or a religion to validate it.”
    That’s what I thought too, but then when I had to leave the country my S.O. needs to be in right now because I had no ‘right’ to be there under my own steam, I learned the hard way that frankly in this day in age we *do* need at least the state to validate and quantify our relationships. It was one hell of a slap in the face, too.


    I can’t speak for Samhita, but I totally agree with her about dating being a waste of time.
    Dating is like going on job interviews (and we all know how much “fun” that is!!!)
    You can’t be yourself, you have to always put your best foot forward, you have to try hard to “impress” the other person so they will “hire” you.
    In many cases, dating can be as miserable as going to the dentist – except the dentist will actually give you powerful narcotics before the pain begins (then again, isn’t that why a lot of people get drunk on dates – the painkiller effect?)
    I know that some heterosexual folks of a non feminist bent might enjoy dating – for profoundly fucked up reasons (women who enjoy getting free restaurant meals and trips to movie theaters or clubs on somebody else’s dime, and men who like the coerced expectation that “she owes me Y amount of sex because I spent X amount on dinner and a movie”).
    But for folks who don’t think like that, I can’t see anything enjoyable about dating.


    Question – why can’t you date a White person, or an African American, or a Chinese person, or a Bangladeshi Muslim?
    Why does your partner have to be the same ethnicity and religion (do they have to be the same caste too?)
    Sounds kinda narrow to me!
    And that kind of demographic narrowness might be kinda tough to pull off in Mississippi – forgive me if I’m wrong here (and I’ve only been to your state once in my life) but isn’t the South Asian community in general pretty small down there (let alone the specifically Bangladeshi Hindu segment of that community)?
    If you’re going to be that specific, wouldn’t New York City or Toronto be a better spot for you to look (not to mention Bangladesh or West Bengal)?

  • Rainey

    You can’t be yourself, you have to always put your best foot forward, you have to try hard to “impress” the other person so they will “hire” you.
    Maybe that is why dating sucks so much for you. Yeesh. I have certainly been on dates that sucked (and in relationships that sucked) but I have also learned wonderful things about myself and had wonderful experiences with some people I’ve dated. But that always starts with trying to be as honest about myself as possible… if you can’t do that, what’s the point?
    I do agree though that there is way too much pressure on single people to actively seek out relationships as if that’s what we all want. But, no, that doesn’t mean dating sucks, period. We’re all different!

  • feministinmississippi

    well of course no one “has” to marry any particular type of person. i’m sharing both a personal preference and a social phenomenon. it’s much harder to be compatible with someone who doesn’t share your general world views, cultural identity, or general life goals. and its more likely for me, or anyone else, to be compatible with someone from their culture. it doesn’t mean it can’t be different.
    also the experience of living in your own culture, marrying someone different is different from being the “other” in a dominant culture.

  • feministinmississippi

    hmmm, why can’t i date the people you mentioned? because those people aren’t interested in me either! when a white guy asks me out, i’ll think about it.
    besides, i know that my world views and beliefs, which are a priority to me, are likely to clash with most guys. and if it doesn’t clash because he’s apathetic, well i don’t like apathy on social issues either. so it comes down to dating just for the sake of dating being a waste of time. i know what i like and i’ll know when i see it. until then, i don’t have enough time to date since i’m in med school – that’s also the reason i can’t move to a better city now.

  • Maybe I’ll Catch Fire

    I feel the need to go hug my dad. I know for sure that he will not allow my mum to put a profile for me on or to try and find a suitable husband for me.
    I made the mistake of telling one of my aunts I wasn’t sure I wanted to get married. She told me I must. Again I asked her why, only to be given the same answer. We kept going for five minutes.
    I too find dating a giant waste of time. I have so much I want to do, and spending an evening with a man being someone I’m not (because the men round here seem to go for women who are stupid and wear little clothing) is my idea of hell.

  • ahimsa

    also the experience of living in your own culture, marrying someone different is different from being the “other” in a dominant culture.
    I agree that my experience and my husband’s experience are different since he is the “outsider” to the US culture. However, my point was that we are both happy in this situation. He’s not posting here, I am, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. :-)
    it’s much harder to be compatible with someone who doesn’t share your general world views, cultural identity, or general life goals.
    I agree with two out of three. Shared values and goals are important but I would remove cultural identity from this list. Or, as my husband so often says, “I don’t have much of a herd instinct.” (always makes me laugh)
    We are both the type of people to look at cultural practices on an individual basis when deciding whether to accept or reject them. We don’t see it was one monolithic thing (being American or Indian). For example, we are both feminists and therefore reject the rigid gender roles that are found (in different ways) in both cultures. And I am vegetarian and a non-drinker, something that is not very common among Americans.
    There’s no “one size fits all” culture for either of us (and probably not for most people). We both reject the idea of doing something just because it’s always been done that way. We’d rather try to think about things and then decide what is right for us.
    I think it’s wise to be aware of cultural differences that might get in the way. And certainly anyone has the right to his or her personal preferences. But I think it’s wrong to assume that people from two different backgrounds will automatically be more likely to be incompatible. I prefer to look at things on a case by case manner rather than make such generalizations.
    (Samhita, sorry if this is going way off topic from your original post!)

  • ahimsa

    Samhita, I think it’s great that you’ve thought about what you want and are firm about defending your boundaries in spite of pressure from your parents. I got a laugh when you said you were radical (from their point of view) in that you didn’t want to get married.
    Re: your comment that dating sucks, it all depends on how dating is defined. If you feel that you have to buy into arbitrary set of rules (discussed on your other thread about heteronormative dating standards ) then, yeah, dating will definitely suck. I would have hated “dating” if I had had to follow those rules. Another approach is to redefine the concept to get rid of those stupid rules.
    But, hey, if dating sucks for you, then don’t do it! And thanks for your interesting posts here at feministing.

  • pacifistvigilante

    I never thought it would happen to me. Then, one day I was discussing gay rights activism after I watched the film Milk. The next couple of days she discussed me getting a girlfriend and I caught her perusing She once asked me, “as a joke”, if I was gay; In hindsight, I should have lied and said “yes” to give her something to stress about.
    I always thought it was strange, as a cultural-hybrid (or mutt). How well do my parents know me, or my personality? They are expecting to pick the person I am supposed to spend the rest of my life with? Good luck trying to sell that pitch.