You log on to Amazon to buy a dress. You see plenty of options, choose a few you like which are well marketed (who buys a dress which does not look good in pictures?). Then you check them out properly, compare them, have a mental bargain. Only, then you finally make a choice based on the best deal! Now think about the Indian dating and matchmaking scenario. You see an uncanny resemblance, don’t you?
It is no surprise that finding a partner in India is a ‘group activity’. Your entire family takes part in it. While the Indian dating idea is quite recent, matchmaking dates back to the inception of matrimony. Either way, the idea is much like shopping, isn’t it? It’s all about choosing and being chosen based on what you have to offer. Simple market dynamics, right? Let’s take a closer look at how the Indian dating and matchmaking scenario is a lot like shopping!
Indian Dating and Matchmaking: The Great Choice Dilemma
What is the one thing that we love as well as hate about shopping? The wide range of choices right? On the one hand, it’s great to have a plethora of choice to pick and choose what suits you the best. On the other hand, too many choices can also lead to a lot of confusion and chaos! Well, similar is the case with the Indian dating and matchmaking scenario. Whenever you join any dating or matrimonial app, you find 1000s of potential matches. Like in apps like Amazon and Flipkart, you can filter the results based on your needs, the same is with dating and matrimonial apps too. You can filter your preferences on the basis of height, age and other factors. Then, you get a refined list of potential partners that best match your needs.
Wouldn’t you then say that dating and matrimony platforms are like marketplaces for finding your perfect mate? Like you surf through Amazon to get the best phone, you may surf through these platforms to find the best partner. And the choices too are limitless, you only need to set the right filter!
You are on Display Yourself
We just saw how the Indian dating and matchmaking scenario is pretty much like shopping. From the point of view of a customer because of the available choices. But, if you flip the table, you will realize that dating is like shopping from a provider point of view also. For all the marketing graduates out there, what is the one thing that can augment the sale of the product, except the product itself? ‘Marketing the product in the right way’! One of the top rules of successful selling, especially in terms of shopping, is that ‘Jo dikhta hai wohi bikta hai’. If you translate this phrase, you will understand that it means that unless you market it, chances of someone buying it are slim. And, those who don’t play by these market rules, find themselves crushed under competition.
A similar analogy for the Indian dating and matchmaking scenario would be that unless you effectively market yourself on these platforms, the chances of attracting the right kind of matches becomes difficult. In a way, the potential candidates are the products that are available. The dating and matrimony apps are the marketplace where you can find the right match. A peculiar addition to this scene in the Indian context are the parents who act as shopkeepers or retailers supplying and scouting for the best matches to suit their children (products on the apps). If you pause for a second and reflect, you will realize that in this whole process of ‘marketing yourself’ as well as seeking the ‘best marketed profiles’, you are objectifying others and getting objectified yourself?
The Market Economics
For all the economics enthusiasts out there, the Indian dating and matchmaking scenario is much like the different markets that economics talk about. Let’s take two for the sake of our argument. On the one hand, lies the idea of the free market economy propounded by Adam Smith. In the context of matchmaking, dating is an equivalent to free market economy where individuals are free to look out for themselves and find the right match, in their marketplace, i.e. dating apps. On the other hand, matrimonial matchmaking, illustrates a regulated market. Here parents play the role of external intervention to ensure a smooth relationship.
If you look closely, in either case, matchmaking boils down to something that resembles shopping. The ones seeking a partner become the product, apps the marketplace and parents and guardians the external intervention.
The Bargaining Dance
By definition, bargaining is about negotiating the price for any transaction. We know it sounds a bit odd to compare dating and bargaining. But, in the Indian dating and matchmaking scenario, it fits well, especially when the parents kick in. Remember the last time you went to a flea market and said, “I can’t pay 400 bucks, can only pay 200”? And now, recall the last time you went to meet your prospective partner and their family. The bargaining dance in Indian matchmaking begins from the time you sign up on a dating or matrimony app and trade off one quality for another.
Based on market dynamics, every bargaining scenario has one who has the bargaining power and another one who settles. When it comes to meeting your prospective partner, the case is anticipated to be the same. And when the buyer and seller meet in the dating and matchmaking marketplace, the bargaining begins.
Your parents as buyers tend to bargain on the best terms for you and the same goes for your prospective partner!
Indian Dating and Matchmaking: Getting the Best Deal
As we draw this piece to a close, let’s share one of the last observations which makes dating like shopping in the Indian context. Just recall the last time you went shopping with your parents and that Jeans you picked up because it was hip, it was stylish, but definitely a little overpriced and showed it to your parents. What was the next course of action? You ended up buying jeans taking what it cost into consideration. The decision was not just on how it looked. Well, the Indian matchmaking scenario is quite similar. When your dates or meetings are chaperoned by your parents, the discussion invariably boils down to the salary package and other data points, doesn’t it?
That’s the final point which makes dating like shopping; your final choice is dependent on a lot of factors. With parents around, numbers play a major role! It’s after all about getting the best deal.
To cut a long story short, there are multiple reasons that confirm the idea that dating is like shopping. This is especially true for the Indian dating and matchmaking scenario. Because, parents have a say in the final decision. Be it in the free market of dating apps or regulated market of matrimony apps, these platforms are the ultimate marketplace where we go in search of true love.
Wouldn’t it be great to have something in between like a free market with an invisible hand to help you find your perfect partner? If this sounds interesting, stay tuned!
Previously published on “Hello, Love”, a Medium publication.
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