Can Love Be Arranged?

Love just happens, it can never be arranged- a very drunk A to a sober B who is getting to know guys through arranged marriage.

So B is a decent looking, intelligent, well qualified girl who’s also got a decent job. She explains, ‘I’ve played the field and none of my boyfriends would ever get my parents’ approval. That headache, I do not want. So let them choose, right?’
‘But why?’ C, who’s been quiet so far asks, ‘ are you that desperate to get hitched?’
‘No yaar! There’s no reason to say no to the process, is there?’

Now, that’s a conversation I overheard. You can call me a voyeur buy it’s a topic I have been pondering about for a long long time. I am a single 24 year old. My parents are fairly liberal, but they want to ‘assist’ me in meeting Mr. Right.

‘Beta, you haven’t met anyone and how many dateable guys do you meet anyway? Give this a shot. Don’t wait for the last train out!’ My father said to me one evening. There was no rational argument out of that one. I spend 12 hours at work (nah! Not going to date anyone at work!) and rest of the time I spend with my family or friends. There’s a slim chance of meeting Mr. Right in these circles. So this mad writer, novelist and a content manager decided to let the family look for matches. I won’t deny having interacted with a few ‘prospects’ and I’m not surprised that most of the profiles ‘forwarded’ to me have left me pondering (now that’s what I do the best!)

Most of those opting for arranged marriage are in it because it’s something they have to do. ‘You sort your career and the next thing expected is settling down. So yeah it’s the logical thing to do,’ a friend confesses.

Another thing about arranged marriages is that the love doesn’t come right at the beginning. The hopeless romantic in me wants to believe that you look for love and discover it with your partner. But I can’t help but wonder, how does someone’s caste, height, salary or designation help define this complex emotion called love!?
‘They don’t define it but are the practical things that you seek commonality on. Marriage is better handelable if these things are clear. Don’t forget that you’re deliberately looking for things in common, only to make the process of falling in love simpler.’ says a voice who’s been happily married and her marriage is part arranged part love.

My question is how do you know what you’re looking for? Isn’t that the fun part of falling in love, opposites attract, being completely surprised by the emotion?

‘That stuff works in movies. The opposite soon starts irritating you. You have a million fights and before you know it the relationship starts to emotionally drain you out!’ this voice recently broke up, so leave the bitterness be.
Despite the bitterness, the above voice has a logical point. ‘You could opt for either. There’s no guarantee of it working. But in arranged marriage you are a bit closer to reality.’
I disagree. Proof: ‘Wanted: a fair, good looking bride. Min: post graduate, ready to move to Australia temporarily.’ ‘seeking allegiance for a good looking, highly educated bride. ‘

Okay, so if she’s fair, you’re more compatible or if he earns more than 10 lakh a year you guys will make it to your 25th wedding anniversary? How is that close to reality in any way? Besides, in love marriage you probably know the flaws and problems of the partner. In arranged marriage, it’s all disguised.
‘My cousin got engaged to a guy, spent a lot of time with him and then found out that the guy would get fits regularly. The family denied it even when they were confronted. Obviously she broke it off! I feel in arranged marriages, a lot is left to surprise to ensure a good match doesn’t slip away!’ says another friend who knows arranged marriage is not for her.

‘Arranged marriage happens through family contacts and stuff. So, people vouch for the guy or the girl. The family is involved and there are more than two brains who give the relationship a thought!’ another friend argues.

‘Isn’t it better though that the two minds who are involved only think it through?’ The first friend retorted. And exactly at this point, I realized that this debate could go on forever. I was nowhere closer to finding out which one was a better option and I found myself standing right at the same point I was when I started writing this article.

In conclusion, it doesn’t matter whether you opt for arranged or love marriage as long as you end up making a balanced decision. ‘I have seen  enough love and arranged marriages fail simply because of the idea of happily ever after. Forget that nonsense, accept the flaws and smile for what you’ve got and you will manage a happy marriage.’ Concludes my grandma whose arranged marriage has lasted a good 56 years!

19 comments for “Can Love Be Arranged?

  1. Joshua
    January 9, 2009 at 11:54 am


  2. January 9, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    i tried to explore the whole arranged marriage phenomenon that i am on the periphery of observing through friends who are currently going through that. hehe in one way, in theory of course, it sounds logical, rational, even convenient… but …. when i think of how would you feel in bed late at night, sleeping with and having to have sex with someone you have absolutely no love or attraction for year after year…. nightmare hehe but thats me, im latin, we dont have arranged marriage stuff hehe

    it’s an interesting phenomenon. and i am observing the modern revamped version in urban india and its not so bad. it’s just dating initiated by the parents!

  3. amu
    January 9, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    this topic has been on my mind too lately…it’s inevitable dammit…when i meet u online would love to have a chat about it!

    hey thanks for your comment! let’s chat for sure 🙂

  4. January 9, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    I remember a while back,someone asking my mom in front of me,what was I doing..the lady in question was surely the jobless,I will get a guy and girl together type 😛
    In my case,I think,falling in love is the point,mainly because,I need someone who will understand me and what I am..And unfortunately they are all friends..ha well I have many many years to fall in love..good to be 17 😛

  5. Priya
    January 9, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    Absolutely cant be arranged… Sometimes it takes upto years to win over someones trust and love.. Imagine if you were just trying to get someone to love you back or try and love the person to begin with it would be so much time wasted in the process.

    but sometimes if we dont meet someone through our social circles, arranged marriage isnt all that bad! -Shakti

    • January 5, 2010 at 4:41 am

      i agree with priya :/

  6. January 12, 2009 at 9:36 am

    You said it way better than I could have
    yeah after the whole dating game has been played out ….one ponders if ‘Mr Right’ will ever come along…and I love the ‘dating assisted by parents’ theory…:D…coz thats what it is….’Arranged’ could turn into love before marriage…..just as one falls in love in merely a week and decides to get hitched and have a ‘love marriage.’….:) the same with this one if you click..:)
    .as for how long the getting to know each other period should be….that happens even when you go out on your own or with the guys your parents make you meet…YOU decide right?

    But the choice should lie with us ultimately…
    ..have rambled on..:)
    relevant article for me as the rounds have almost started..:D

    hi5! and yeah i agree with you when you say love can happen anywhere! so lets keep the fingers crossed for all of us!

  7. Joss
    January 12, 2009 at 11:33 am

    If arranged marriages are so great, why is the nation obsessed with love marriages. It’s the theme of almost all movies! Love is a fantasy that most people seem too scared to indulge because they can’t trust their emotions. Easier to rely on parents because through childhood they have usually been right about everything and controlled our lives OK so far. It’s a lovely idea, that they could find the right person for you, with so little effort on one’s own part. It’s takes time and effort to find the right love match, how great for someone else to take care of all that. But hey, that idea is a fantasy too, as far as I can tell.

    Only thing I agree wtih is that the more you have in common the better you will probably get on. All those things can be checked out on dating websites though. I found my partner like that, not in India, and in a way it is a good half-way point point between the two ways of doing things. Definitely I wanted to see how the guys expressed themselves in writing too! I couldn’t get involved with anyone who couldn’t spell or punctuate properly. You can learn a lot about people from their emails. It’s a great way to start. I thoroughly recommend it. (Now to check for any typos of my own!) Good luck to you in your search!

  8. January 14, 2009 at 9:23 am

    exactly. love doesn’t need to come first before marriage. the usual argument is that arranged marriages just leave too much room for doubt and worry. there are too many ‘what ifs’ to allow for peace of mind. yet, they’ve survived in this country, so it ultimately defies logic.

    in other news, i just spent over half an hour reading random posts in your blog, which i came across through someone else’s. i like. 🙂

    Thanks! Love it that you enjoyed the blog 🙂 -Shakti

  9. January 14, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    ha ha this is the same thought process that i have gone through many a times before my marriage before i fell in love and got married … but yes , i agree with your conclusion ! Love marriage or arranged marriage one needs to make sure relation is not taken for granted and it actually needs to be worked with love , care and acceptance of what a person is and giving space to the person and relation – no matter if love came before or after marriage…

    great insight Mr. R. I love all the clarity i am getting with this post. Thank you so much 🙂 -Shakti

  10. January 15, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    I cannot agree more!! I was actually talking to a friend and telling her how quickly people are getting hooked up these days and how easily friends are indirectly arranging for love!!
    Its intriguing to see how suddenly one day a friend came and told that she was committed, the guy pata nahi who what when how! I am left wondering if its pure boredom of singlehood(which actually should be enjoyed as long as it lasts yet) or simpy the whole concept of its better to be in than not be in it concept! I hope I dont end up arranging love for myself and find someone soon! 🙂

  11. January 16, 2009 at 11:44 am

    Love Marriage or Arrange Marriage….???.whatever be the path….what important is for a marriage is love. If you do love marriage …love should last….and if arranged should start and last….

  12. January 30, 2009 at 6:06 am

    Nice post! I had read this a week back, but yesterday I noticed that this has been published in the “HT Cafe” supplement that comes along with Hindustan Times, Mumbai.

    The article (page 16) is credited to one “Leela S”. Is that you? Then congratulations! Else is this a case of plagiarism by Hindustan Times?

    Just thought I would let you know. The article published in HT Cafe is available online at

    Hey thanks! Its very sweet of u to inform me abt the article. I had passed the article on to a journo at the paper and yes, Leela S would be me! I am sorry for the delay in replying to the comment, I was traveling.

  13. July 23, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    The old monster raises its head again – No, not you dear – the debate on Love vs. Arrangement. But I must say you’ve written a very balanced piece on a topic which makes most lovers go eww and arrangers go tch. I once moderated a GD on the same where every student concluded with – I prefer arrange marriage and so on.

    But that is what it is – a matter of preference. I had a cousin who went in for arranged marriage even though her elder sis opted for a love marriage. When I quizzed her on the fact that did you never fall in love? – her response was amazing. She said that I’d love to explore a person after marriage than know every detail about him and then marry him. For her it was more adventure.

    For many Indians it works like an algorithm. You won’t believe me if I tell you that I once read a matrimonial advertisement which said – “Software engineer bride wanted – preferably Java or C/C++ programmer” – and that’s not a joke.

    I’ve seen a belief in people that money sets everything straight. And to some extent it actually does. So if the guy has money and the girl is cute Marry them off. This works like a routine program. It will take some time for the girl to figure out that the guy is not meant for her. She’ll then balance the opinion that whether she should back off on him or stay. In the mean time she’ll get pregnant and then in the ‘greater good’ will stick to a relationship bound to give her an untimely death. And then she’ll do the same to her kid. And this would go on. (Usually)

    Because your family doesn’t care about Love. When you are 55 years of age with heart problem, you realize that it is not love that will carry you but your insurance investments. So when its your parent’s chance to decide your fate – they’ll usually take the fatter pay check.

    This is the general thing. Ofcourse some parents are uber cool. And when you say that ‘arranged marriage’ is dating initiated by parents – I actually want to believe you. But cannot. I’ve noticed this thread of thought where parents judge a prospective groom for their kids by their parents – or by other shallow parameters like facial features, caste and so on. One of my relatives was being coaxed to marry a beautiful girl, who had bedded almost all men in her college days, because she was better looking than the girl he was interested in. Only when informed of their choice’s choices did they realize their folly.

    I’d give you my example but its too early to see which path I’ll tread. One of my cousins did make an interesting statement – He told her parents, tell me about the girl with whom you are planning to tie my know, at least an year in advance, so that we can try and fall in love. Funny yet immensely sarcastic.

    Gigantic comment continues.. 😛

  14. July 23, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    I believe its our generation’s fascination with Love as a measure for happiness. We’ve been mesmerized by Chick-flicks and stories with happy endings. Love in a marriage is like foreplay in sex – its important – but what is more important is what it leads to – the strength to compromise or sacrifice or (insert any big word ending in e)

    The rule of opposites attract has also been overhyped a lot. Opposites might attract each other but their coming together usually results in distortion – neutralization as it happens in nature. Opposition is lovely, so you have things to learn from each other – but continued opposition can take its toll on any relationship. Similarly an overdose of similarity can play its part in making a marriage a suffering.

    I believe more than Love or Arrangement – Marriage is a lot about personal comfort. How comfortable you are sharing your space, how comfortable you are in giving up the remote, how comfortable you are in each other’s hands. And these compatibility tests are never time bound. I may love a woman’s talk but I might repulse her touch completely. Again those who find having sex with a stranger(read: arranged guy) unbearable actually dance around their own personal bias. Some of them would sleep with a stranger after a last-man-standing tequila evening, but the thought of sleeping with a guy their parents introduced will make them cringe.

    So after moving around in circles, did we reach anywhere? No. Because these are the kind of questions, answers to which depend on a lot of factors – where you live, who you are, what year it is – its like asking whether you prefer Rock or Classical, Crumping or Bharatnatyam.

    My stand on it – Decide what you want to do based on what you want to do – Not what anyone has done. Its your life.. Make it large.. 😛

    (Dumb way to end the comment, I know. But Coffee is getting older by the minute. Can’t ignore my first love)

  15. July 23, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    Was listening to Dylan baba and here is something that says a lot:

    Come mothers and fathers
    Throughout the land
    And don’t criticize
    What you can’t understand
    Your sons and your daughters
    Are beyond your command
    Your old road is
    Rapidly agin’.
    Please get out of the new one
    If you can’t lend your hand
    For the times they are a-changin’.

    Well, Dylan knows best. 😀

  16. January 5, 2010 at 4:37 am

    I feel love marriages are better :/

  17. January 6, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    nice article
    agree ! both ways can workout well … its completely dependent on attitude of both.

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