“Dating Indian men” is a touchy subject!
Just the phrase “Dating Indian Men” is enough for a tumult of reactions, much like shouting “Fire” in a crowded area.
Some people will run away to avoid getting into a discussion; Some will just stand and watch, the rest will have opinions ranging from “What brutes they are!” to “What misunderstood poor souls they are!” and everything in between; Some of us will go on a tangent with comments like “Why date? Just marry?” and “Against our ancient culture”, and of course, the inevitable “From Sita to Draupadi, the woman is the source of all problems, even with dating.”
There will also be quite a few declaring that the problem is not the Indian Men, it is the Indian Woman, leading the poor lamb on and abandoning him at the altar of parental approval.
Dating is misunderstood in India
India is one of the few countries where arranged marriages are still popular.
Just look at the stats.
74% of Indians believe in an arranged marriage. Survey after survey has generally supported the idea that arranged marriage are still preferred over dating as a means to find a partner.
So the idea of dating in India is not the same as what is understood in western countries.
Let’s define dating.
Dating is defined as a process where two individuals evaluate each other for a possible long-term relationship such as a live-in relationship or marriage.
Here are some of the characteristics of dating:
Couples seek out suitable dating mates at work, friends network, at social places (such as a bar or a restaurant), or through dating apps or websites.
They go on dates for as many times as they want till they either choose to call themselves to be in a relationship (boyfriend/girlfriend).
They may or may not move-in together. Sometimes they even have a child out of wedlock. They may break up or choose to get engaged or married.
However, dating in India is not necessarily seen as a casual pursuit of a relationship that may or may not end up in a marriage.
Five unique characteristics of dating culture in India
1. Indians have a tendency to equate dating with love. That includes people going on a date!
2. Most Indian women are looking for a serious commitment (i.e marriage).
3. Dating apps in India are seen as a matchmaking platform without the guidance of parents.
4. Casual dating is still limited to large cities and people below the 26 year age group.
5. Small town India is witnessing a lot of growth in the number of users of dating apps.
There are over 37 million Indians using online dating today and this user base is growing at about 6% per year.
While dating is still a virgin concept in India as the country opens up, societal norms about dating are changing rapidly.
We are going to mostly leave the women alone, ignore societal norms as far as possible and just focus on the good, bad and ugly aspects of dating Indian men. In the interest of leaving the page with a warm, fuzzy feeling after an enlightening read, let us just get the ugly out of the way first!
Dating Indian men: The ugly side
What are Indian men like when it comes to dating? Remember Harry Potter trying to get a date for the dance in “The Goblet of Fire”? No? Not a Fan? Well, uncomfortable he pitifully demands to know why girls always travel in packs.
Indian men are pack animals!
This is doubly true for Indian men, they have not quite evolved from the pack foraging stage of Gorillas. In fact, given the unshaven look preferred since Premam, you could be forgiven for thinking Gorillas have moved into Indian cities! They move around in groups – A gang is most apt, considering their collective behaviour. They even cross the street as a gang! Isn’t that taking “One for all, all for one a little too far?”
The gang will produce a lot of background music, catcalls and snippets from popular songs, to accompany the poor sod’s clumsy attempts at asking you out on a date. Be assured every gesture, every word, every smile, every look of yours will be dissected, none too gently, once you are out of the picture. Of course, they will not accompany the “chosen one” on the date, but they will hover in the background.
Every attempt to continue the conversation post-date will be a competition for attention between the wolf-pack and you. You might even correctly surmise, the wolf pack is guiding the conversation at his end post date!
Ego and the Indian man are blood brothers
Every (He)Indian man thinks it is beneath his dignity to admit he actually wants to enjoy your company and wants to get to know you better or that you have other better options out there.
His ego and his gang insist he is God’s answer to you, if not all womenkind.
I would say some 80% of potential romance with Indian men breaks down at this stage.
What are you doing?
If the romance continues, the next showing will be the light-green monster, the brother of jealousy (he is the dark green one), Mr Possessiveness.
He will want an account of every second you are not together. He will want to know the composition of your friends groups, how many girls, how many boys, how many of them have hit on you, how many have you viewed favourably and so on and so forth. You get the picture, right?
What are your intentions or do you know his intention?
If you possess all the right qualities, the caste/creed/education/social strata his mother would approve of, he will decide you are the only one for him. You would have hardly had the time to draw a breath and settle into the comfortable and exciting “getting to know each other” phase of your relationship when he starts pushing for a lifetime warranty.
If you, justifiably, decide you need more time to get to know each other, you will find both he and his cronies are labelling you as “fast” and questioning your motives.
19% of romance fails at this point.
If you don’t possess all the right qualities? He is probably just looking for a final fling before settling down with mama’s choice.
One day soon, as Angela says, “He is going to come to you and say, “We don’t have a future together” and break it off. Before you invest too deeply in a relationship, find out where you stand!”
Can you put up an act?
Let us say, you are still on, now comes the final deal-breaker. He wants you to meet his parents his siblings, his friends, his favourite teacher, practically everyone! But here is the nub: he wants you to impress everyone, for whom, he has the slightest regard or affection.
He wants you to suddenly become a chameleon, docile potential bride to his mother, cool indulgent brat to his siblings and cool sophisticate to his colleagues, an endless list really. All your “cute” traits – the somewhat loud laughter or your messy hair, become liabilities as you go about meeting his “people”.
I guess it is good to remember the advice the sage gave to the king, “This too shall pass!” If you can see past this nutty stage, you will go on to something more conventional, perhaps even beautiful.
One cannot in good conscience lay all the blame for the nightmare that is dating Indian men at the door of the man alone.
“What will society say?”
Indian society at large is to blame for some of the tribulations in dating Indian men. This is the society where unrelated boys and girls hanging out in public on Valentines could be forcibly married!
The concept of dating does not exist here. Marriage exists and the marriage is between two families, not between two individuals. The head of the family decides who and when one should marry, keeping Patriarchy well and truly alive.
The net result? As Rishab Goel says, “Indian men have no clue about how to approach a woman or talk to her or what makes her tick.”
Indian men ARE mama’s boy, how can they be anything else but? Remember how thrilled a mother is when the baby takes her first step? Well, the Indian mom carries it into adulthood. I have the best story to illustrate this.
A Chennai mom instructs a mom in Jaipur on the intricacies of making Idli/Sambhar for her son studying in Jaipur. The mom promptly makes a batch and delivers to him in his college. Similarly, the Chennai mom learns to make Ghatiya over the phone and delivers it to the Jaipuri son in Chennai.
Well-heeled and respectful
The cache of Indian men is increasing in the western countries too, they tend to be well educated, well employed, and stick to the centuries-old tradition of living within their means. As for the curse of being a mama’s boy, if he is nice to his mom, he is going to be just as nice and respectful to your mom and as the days progress, no?
He will certainly be nice to you too when you are a mom and you are battling your son/daughter over the zillion issues that befall motherhood. Unlike your in-laws, he will not think you are a devil for disciplining your child.
Equality is the new macho
Aswini Asokan’s husband famously stayed home when their first child was born while she continued to climb up the ladder at Intel. Now, they are co-founders of Mad Street Den, an Artificial Intelligence startup in India. Men, even Indian men, are increasingly viewing women as equal partners. And it is about time too, this, after all, is the land of Ardhanareeswaran.
As for the macho, ‘I will take care of you’ attitude, why not? A little tender, loving care is good for the soul. The rest can always be trained away!
Dating Indian men and reeling the right one in!
Let us get down to the basics here ladies. We are biologically nesters. At the end of the day, we are in this game to find our mate and build our nest. You are also reading this here, in the Jodi Logik blog, because you are want to settle down, with the one. There are three steps to reeling your ONE in:
Step 1: Studying your prey
Look beyond the obvious things like looks, education, social strata. Can he make you laugh? Can he admit to being wrong? Does he make your friends feel comfortable? If yes, it is time to study the prey.
Identify his likes and dislikes and if you don’t share any, learn about a handful of his likes. As bad as it sounds, this is not being manipulative, it is really just trying to look through the other person’s glasses. Besides, it is always good to learn new things, acquire new skills.
My aunt learned a little about cricket after she was married to my uncle, an avid fan, and a decent player. 40 years later, they still watch matches together with a shared understanding of the nuances of the game.
Study his friends, Identify the close ones and get to know them better. Men are very good at retaining friendships, it is possible that you will remain close decades from now. Identify his favourite movies, books and music. They may not match your tastes, but they will provide a deeper insight into his character.
Step 2: Prepare your bait
Now that you have studies your prey quite well, it is time to prepare the bait. Share him very generously with his friends, even hang out with his closest ones.
Show a nuanced understanding of his books and his movies. If all he likes is “Gravitational Waves” at least be prepared with Sadhguru’s response to the concept of time and space!
Definitely, share your passions. It is ideal to establish your own individuality from the get-go, not down the road. Go out with friends to the mall and do both, arcade games and shopping. Head out to beaches and places with adventure sports as a group.
Step 3: Reel them in
You thought I would talk about reeling in the guy, right? Reeling the guy is easy-peasy, it is the mother and other relatives who pose a challenge!
You want your future MIL to think you are the ideal catch for her darling baby, not just accept you as her son’s choice. For this one relative, subterfuge is OK. Every mother starts as the centre of her son’s life. Slowly as the child gets older, she moves to the periphery of his life until at some point it feels like she has no connection with him at all!
Daughters realise mom’s worth better when they enter the same phase of life. It is just good Karma to please the future MIL. Besides, it earns you a lifetime of brownie points.
Meet the siblings and close cousins first, preferably amongst friends. They can help you figure out what she would like, dress sense food, and general behaviour. Then, finally, meet her in a public setting as just a group of friends getting together for some real or concocted reason and wow her.
Step 4: After that?
It is Wedding Wishlist!
Are you a white woman dating an Indian man?
If you are a Caucasian woman and considering a serious relationship with an Indian man, here are six tips worth considering before you take the plunge.
1. Make sure he is getting into a relationship for the right reasons
As a white woman dating an Indian man, you have to understand that dating is relatively a new trend in Indian society.
Even if the Indian man you are dating was brought up in your own country, immigrant Indian families are relatively protective in terms of their emphasis on teaching their children the traditions and value systems that defines the Indian cultural identity.
One of the biggest differences in how Indian families raise children is strict (sometimes bordering on obsessiveness) focus on education and career. Indian families do not encourage dating when in school and prefer to fix matches for their children when the time is right.
As a result, Indian men may not have any experience going on a date.
Don’t be surprised if they declare their love for you on the second date or don’t know how to engage in a casual conversation without venturing into the deeply personal turf on a first date. Some of them will look at dating as just another means of getting married.
Because pre-marital sex is taboo among Indian families, Indian men may think that dating is an easy way to have sex.
What should you do?
You should have clear boundaries on what you will share and when you will decide to get intimate. Don’t be pressurised into committing too early or if you feel you need time and space to take a call.
2. Understand inherent biases and values that shaped his mind
The values, traditions, taboos, outlook on the life of an Indian man is a world away from how you perceive life as a western woman and what you want to do with it.
While it is true that love can overcome any barriers, knowing what these barriers are upfront will save you the trouble of going through heartache after investing a lot of time and energy in a relationship.
Indian families want their children to excel in everything! So much so that this emphasis on beating the competition means Indian men may not have a well-rounded personality.
Unlike western education, the emphasis in Indian schools is on rote learning and doing well in competitive exams. There is scant opportunity for Indians to pursue things they like.
You will rarely find Indian men taking a break from their studies and go on a backpacking trip halfway across the world!
While progressive attitudes towards gender equality are now more prevalent in India, the role of a woman in a traditional Indian family has always taken a backseat when compared to that of men.
What should you do?
Watch out signs that tell you your worldview on things and your role in a relationship doesn’t conform to your expectations.
If you think he is overprotective or controlling, remember where it is coming from and decide if you want to conform to his idea of a relationship.
3. His family is a part of the deal
Dating an Indian man is usually a package deal. It comes with the family and the Indian family doesn’t get together only on Chrismas or Thanksgiving.
Indian parents don’t send their children out when they become 18 years old. Left to them, they would want their son to live with them even after marriage.
Having played a key role in every major decision in the life of their son, it’s no wonder they want him to be in a relationship with an Indian woman.
Some Indian men may tell you upfront that the relationship may not have a future while others will cross the bridge (breaking the news to their family) when it is needed.
What should you do?
It will be rare for an Indian family to easily digest the fact that their son is going with a white woman. Brace yourself for some drama on this front.
If you believe you love your man and imagine a future with him, do what you can to endear yourself to his family.
Maybe try wearing traditional Indian dresses or learn to speak his language or cook something for the family.
4. Spot the difference between an ABCD and a first-generation migrant
ABCD refers to “American Born Confused Desi” and denotes Indians who were born in the US as opposed to having migrated to the US for education or career.
When you are dating an ABCD, you will probably feel more at home as there is a lot more shared values and understanding of what dating actually means.
However, ABCDs are not pure-bred Americans or Westerners.
As someone said, “you can take an Indian out of India but you cannot take India out of Indian!”
The reasons they are considered to be “confused” is because of the identity conflict of being a Westerner for all practical purposes yet retaining a unique cultural identity.
When you are dating a migrant Indian, things are a lot different.
They carry with them whatever perception the media has created about white women in India. Indian men think that western women are promiscuous because of what they see on screen.
They just assume all western women drink, smoke and a lead a carefree life!
Some of them see an opportunity to have sex with White women away from the prying eyes of family and friends. Some of them just want to let loose and have fun in a relatively liberal society.
As always, there are exceptions and you will find a fine Indian gentleman to date irrespective of his immigration status!
However, understanding the mental frame of mind and cultural background will help you mitigate culture shock when dating.
5. The holy trinity – Cricket, Bollywood and Food
The best way to find a way to the heart of an Indian man is through food, movies and cricket.
Unlike western countries, where there is a variety of sports to pursue, cricket dominates India. If you care to understand the game and can relate to it, you will be a keeper!
Food also plays a central role in Indian culture. Indian men are a spoilt lot not only by the pampering showered on them by their mothers but also by the choices they have when it comes to their diet.
Once they land in a foreign country, Indian men have no choice but to learn cooking as that’s the only way they can satisfy their cravings in a distant land. Learning to cook a few Indian dishes or even developing a taste for them is a sure shot way to impress Indian men.
Finally, while you won’t be expected to dance around the trees like what you might have seen in a Bollywood movie, Indian men invariably enjoy the movies.
Please understand that not all Indian movies come under the “Bollywood” umbrella. There are regional language movies that have millions of passionate fans and your man could be one of them.
6. Learn from people who have been there and done that
The intermingling of races and culture is not a new phenomenon. Even in the times of the British Raj, Indian women ended up marrying the British rulers. The Anglo-Indian community in India emerged as a result of this unlikely racial intermingling.
In modern times, the growth of commerce and a booming economy attracts droves of westerners to visit India and millions of Indians travelling to the west for work and leisure.
The end result is that a white woman (or even an African American or Latino) dating an Indian man is not news anymore.
Here are some articles from white women who have dated or married Indian men. Read these articles to get their first-hand perspective on what works and things that can trip your relationship.
– Andrea Miller’s list of what Indian men really like!
– Angela Carson’s blog, Angela’s Bangalore, on her experience dating Indian men.
– Beth Bauer’s experiences in dating Indian men and her equation with her current Indian boyfriend
– Sharell Cook shares her “interesting” experiences in India after marrying an Indian man.
Also, follow these YouTube channels – Being Ginger and My Sweet Dharma to get a ringside view of life as a white woman living with an Indian man.
7. Understand the cultural history of love in India
India is the land of the Kamasutra. Having a relationship before marriage is not an alien concept in India and is widely prevalent in Indian mythology and cultural history.
Here are some examples:
Kamadev and Rati were hopelessly in love with each other. By all accounts, they weren’t married. The fact that Indian mythology had a character who is considered as the God of love is a recognition of the fact that it is natural for men and women to get into a relationship outside marriage.
Radha was a married woman who fell in love with Krishna who was younger than her! While there are philosophical explanations on how divine their love was, these relationships were never seen as a taboo.
If you need an example of speed dating, look no further than the Ramayana. Seetha’s syamwaram was all about a bunch of men showing off their skills to win her heart!
Ever heard of a temptress who falls in love with her target? Look no further than the story of sage Vishwamitra and Menaka. She confesses the truth to Vishwamitra eventually only to see Vishwamitra break up with her for good!
Shiva’s relationship with Sati and the subsequent marriage to Parvathi who happens to be a reincarnation of Sati is a plat worthy of a Hollywood romantic movie!
A more modern history of dating in Indian culture can be found through Bollywood movies. Movies have always reflected the changing social norms with respect to dating and relationships.
Don’t forget the basics when dating Indian men!
But first, get your head out of the clouds, and prepare for the tribulations of dating. After all, you will find the diamond only in the rough!
Any sensible woman should do the following when going on a date for the first time.
1. Do anything that’s acceptable to you. Draw a clear line about what you will do or what you want and always stick to your guns.
2. Do dress attractively. Don’t dress provocatively.
3. Do have your cell phone with you on dates, charged and GPS on. don’t give your friends a running commentary during the date.
4. Don’t give your friends a running commentary on the date!
5. Do meet in public places, don’t meet in a bar.
6. Do be romantic, don’t indulge in public displays of affection.
7. Do go out with his friends, don’t go out with a group of just his male friends.
8. Be prepared for the vagaries of the weather and the volatile conditions in Indian cities, where a bandh might break out at any moment for any reason.
9. Always make sure someone knows where you are and how to get to you.
Be alert, be safe, and enjoy dating Indian men!
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