Fending off an arranged marriage proposal
What’s common between an arranged marriage proposal and a tiger in the jungle? They both have a way of sneaking in on you!
It is common knowledge that arranged marriages are primarily driven by the parents, uncles, and aunts. They hold the responsibility of making sure prospective matches are lined up when they believe it’s the right time for you to “settle down”.
This results in awkward arranged marriage first meetings. There are numerous anecdotes and stories of how an arranged marriage proposal turns into surreal experiences for the boy or the girl.
Obviously, the best way to tackle an unwanted arranged marriage proposal would be to just say no and get on with your life!
However, how you say no to an arranged marriage proposal depends on the situation and the context.
When you ignore how others perceive your negative response and the context, you will invariably create a bad name for yourself and arranged marriages in general!
One of the reasons arranged marriages have a bad name or people assume it’s outdated is that people say no to arranged marriage proposals for the weirdest reasons!
Here are some real-life incidents – The father-in-law expected to be served tea and poha instead of samosa and sherbet, the girl did not like a birthmark on the prospective groom’s neck and for having graduated with the “wrong” degree. The list is endless and you can read all the gory details here.
But not everyone says no to arranged marriage proposals for the wrong reasons.
Recently a young girl in Bangalore rejected a prospective match because he did not like her pet dog. That’s not all. Her encounter made her realise who will call the shots after marriage. You will find the details here.
Let’s face it, if you receive arranged marriage proposals, you may not like all of them or most of them! That’s the law of nature! We have put together 7 practical ways to say no to an arranged marriage proposal.
1. Tell them you are not ready!
Unsolicited arranged marriage proposals usually come in from distant relatives and from the family-friends network. Women are often pressurised by overzealous family members to get married. Overzealous relatives try every trick in the book to set you up. The seemingly random meeting with an eligible bachelor or his mum then quickly becomes obvious going by the line of questions you may have to field.
It is important not to cave into such pressures and here are some elegant ways you can say no to such arranged marriage proposals.
When you are talking directly to a boy or a girl, consider using these responses.
“I believe I need more time to establish myself in my career. Marriage is certainly not in the cards.” or “I think I am still too young to get married and I have not yet thought about settling down.”
When you are dealing with parents or relatives of a prospective match, you could say something like
“I am flattered that you would consider me worthy of your son/daughter. However, I want to focus on my career/passion now. I hope you will find a suitable match soon.”
While we rake our brains to figure out how to reject a guy in arranged marriage, it is important to set the right expectations with your parents and relatives. Tell them exactly what you think about getting married and don’t try to play the role of an “obedient son or daughter”.
If you are not sure about who you are, your are feeling insecure and don’t know what is important to you, you are not ready for marriage.
2. Saying NO to messages from online matrimony sites
While it may be easy to justify why you said no to an unsolicited arranged marriage proposal, saying no to people who express interest via online matrimony sites should also be handled properly.
Most matrimony sites make it easy to say yes or no when someone expresses interest in your profile. You need to make sure you take the trouble of clicking on a button to let them know if you are not interested. Seems very simple, but you will be surprised to find how many people fail to embrace this basic etiquette.
However, things can get tricky when you initiate a chat, email exchange or an offline conversation with someone you found on a matrimony site only to discover that they may not be a suitable person after all.
If you are chatting and you figure out that this may not a suitable match for you, just say,
“I think we may have to stop chatting now. I did enjoy chatting with you but I don’t think we are a good match. Best wishes for your search.”
In response, if the other party agrees and signs off, you can close the case. If the other person starts arguing or feels offended, you can always log out or you can report the person to the site for abuse. Remember, don’t get drawn into an angry exchange ever.
The best way to decline an arranged marriage proposal in an email would be to write something like this:
“Hi <name>, Thank you for sharing your son / daughter’s marriage biodata. After careful consideration, we have decided that this match may not be suitable for us. Our best wishes to your son / daughter and we hope you will find a suitable match soon.”
You can modify this template if you are directly sending a message to the prospective match.
If you ever moved from expressing interest online all the way to a phone call with the prospective matches or his / her family, you will have to tactfully end the conversation if they are not suitable for you.
The best strategy to pull this off is to move the conversation from the phone call to an email! It’s better to avoid expressing no in a phone call as you may end up feeling guilty or worry too much about hurt feelings. If you are forced to tell no over a phone call, always tell the truth and end the call quickly.
“I don’t think this is going to work for us. Good luck.” is all you need to say.
If they ask for an explanation, you can use these examples.
“I don’t think there is a personality match”, “We have different expectations”, “Horoscope match is important for us and our astrologer doesn’t think there is a match.”
Always remember that if you come across an abusive individual in an online matrimony site, report the abuse immediately. Take screenshots for evidence.
3. Saying no after arranged marriage first meetings
Rejection hurts more when you know the person and his or her family and have had a chance to interact with them. Saying no after arranged marriage meetings should be done with elegance and due consideration for the other party.
If you would like to find out how not to say no to an arranged marriage proposal, you should read these personal incidents. Click here to read the stories.
Here are some guidelines that will help you politely say no to a marriage proposal after the first meeting:
- Ask all the right questions during arranged marriage first question. Don’t ask frivolous questions.
- Don’t let your parents hijack the conversation. Set the ground rules before the meeting with your parents.
- Understand what the red lines are for you.
- Don’t communicate your decision at the meeting. Always say, “we will get back to you.”
- Make sure you communicate the decision with a follow-up call or email. Don’t leave it to your matchmaker or any other third party to explain.
We put together 36 important questions that will tell you how to judge a boy or girl or what to ask a boy or girl in an arranged marriage first meeting. Click here to read this article.
4. How to say no after a one-on-one meeting?
Let’s assume you have had an arranged marriage first meeting and you have now moved on to a one-on-one date with the prospective match. You may meet him or her a couple of times and then decide that this may not be the right person for you.
The key strategy is here is to figure out if the other person is emotionally invested or not. If you have had several meetings and you know each other fairly well, you got to lay him or her down gently. If it was just a meeting and you are still “strangers”, rely on your family to communicate the bad news.
As always, the best strategy would be to switch your conversation channel to chat or email so that you can keep the communication objective and not let it become emotional.
An email could be sent by your parents to end the contact or if you have some personal rapport with the other party, you can send out a polite email.
“I enjoyed meeting you. However, I think we may not be compatible. I hope you will find the right person.” should do the trick.
There is no need to respond to any follow-up questions from the other party after you send the email. Stay silent and they should get the message.
5. How to say no after the engagement?
Most engaged couples go on to get married, but there are chances that you may want to break off after getting engaged.
While this may not be a pleasant experience, cutting off a potentially bad life-long relationship before marriage is a wise decision. In the Indian context, because marriages are associated with family honour, breaking off the engagement means a loss of face for the family.
Parents fear that their son or daughter will be always tainted by the failed engagement and that they may never find any suitable match. In the unlikely event that you are forced to end an engagement because you discovered a nasty truth about your fiance or his / her family, it’s important to do it swiftly and decisively.
If you have discovered malicious intent, you can follow these guidelines.
- Break off contact with your fiance and get your parents / close relatives to handle the communication.
- Make sure all photographs are deleted. If you have already shared your engagement photos via social networks, make sure you delete them.
- If the other party continues to stalk you, delete your social media accounts and change your phone number.
- If you have exchanged expensive gifts, it’s better to return them.
- If things get nasty (your fiance or family threatens you), do not hesitate to report them to the police for harassment.
If you are both reasonable, having a conversation in person is the best way to communicate your decision. When you talk in person, remember to:
- Be respectful and not use derogatory language.
- Focus on the big reasons why you think this relationship may not work. Don’t bring up trivial reasons.
- Give your fiance the opportunity to ask questions.
- Don’t give your fiance any hope of changing your mind. Let it be known that your decision is final.
We put together 9 simple and effective ways to identify red flags in arranged marriages. Read these tips to find out if your prospective match is a fraud!
6. Saying no to forced marriages
Most westerners assume all arranged marriages are forced marriages. While this is not true, forced marriages do happen in India.
In the event, you believe you are being forced into a marriage or know anyone who is in this situation you should act and not watch from the sidelines. You can act by filing a complaint at the police station or reach out to support groups or social service agencies.
Read the story of Rekha Kalindi, an 11-year old girl who fought against her own mother and the society when she took a stance against her forced marriage. This should serve as an inspiration.
For more resources including legal provisions against forced marriages, check out this page from Chayn India.
7. Giving the silent treatment!
Finally, there is one proven approach to say no to an arranged marriage proposal and this is by not responding to the proposal! While staying silent may be considered rude, it is effective in communicating your lack of interest.
Here are some scenarios where giving the silent treatment might work well.
- Don’t respond to relatives who pressurise you to get married in a social gathering such as a wedding.
- If you have persistent suitors (either online or offline) who don’t seem to take your no for an answer.
- If you are asked awkward questions in arranged marriage first meeting, staying silent should get your message across.
Silent treatment works well when you believe engaging the other party in a conversation will not end well. When you have the option to say no easily without any emotional attachment, say no and move on.
In summary, saying no to an arranged marriage proposal is your right and you should always have the final say. Choosing the right approach to turn down arranged marriage proposals should help you handle the situation without creating problems for yourself or conveying the wrong impression. Considering the fact that arranged marriages involve your family members as well, being open and honest with them will help avoid situations where you are pressurised into a marriage.