When one of my best friends told me she had met her husband of 15-plus years through a newspaper ad, it did not come as a surprise to me. Most of my friends in Delhi had arranged marriages anyway. There is a thriving matrimonial column in major newspapers that caters to anxious parents once their daughters reach ‘marriageable age’. The fact is, parents play a major role or more correctly, parents have a hand in match fixing. I was only a little surprised that my friend, a feisty strong-headed woman, would allow someone to choose a spouse for her.
I recently met someone here, an Indian guy married to an Australian. They have been together for 20 years now and blessed with three sons. They were pen friends for seven years before they got married in the first month of their meeting in Mumbai when she visited him.
Why is it then that people make so much fuss about online dating? I find it no different that newspapers or penfriends. The only difference may be the fact that with the net there is no discreetness. I have another friend who has been with her partner for four years and both met in an online dating site.
I think what people need to debate on are the chances of finding more dubious people on the internet. Fraud stories are galore, of women finding their Mr Rights on the net and then tripling on the fact that he has been Mr Rights to ten others. According to psychologists at the University of Rochester, the second most common way of starting a relationship is through the internet. I wonder if this method is grossly efficient. From personal experiences, chatting online with your boyfriend leads to better understanding of each other but the risk in cyberspace is that there are a lot of people on the prowl looking for sex not love.
Personally I believe dating and romance cannot come out of looking at profile photos and being interviewed and so on. We must go out to the real world, meet people, experience things together and through all these learn about one another. It is not about the qualifications you have, which school you went to, what religion or colour you have! This is the ultimate romantic reductionist for me, a bit off-putting - as off-putting as the overpriced roses, overbooked restaurants and overstuffed soft toys that float on V-Day.