Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Health & Sex

Font Size
A
A
A

How We Love Now

Long-distance relationships, office romances, and marriages arranged online are new items on the romance menu.

The Internet Changes Arranged Marriages continued...

Before the Internet, when a son or daughter of Indian descent was ready to marry, parents often looked for a suitable match through relatives and matchmakers. Some families used marriage bureaus that screen candidates in person and then make introductions for a fee. Another popular route: placing classified newspaper ads.

But in roughly the past decade, many Indian matrimonial sites have appeared, such as Suitablematch.com, Shaadi.com, Indianmatrimony.com, and BharatMatrimony.com. The sites enable people to search for specific attributes in a mate, including religion, caste, language, education, and profession. 

The sites aren't labeled dating sites, although in practice, some people use them as such. Instead, they are marketed as marriage sites, which are more culturally acceptable to conservative Indian communities.

One U.S.-based site, Suitablematch.com, was launched in Massachusetts in 1996. Its founder was an Indian father, Narain Bhatia, whose daughters had reached marriageable age.

But parents actually post only 5% of profiles, with sons and daughters posting the rest, says Suitablematch.com president Bharat Manglani. At another site, Shaadi.com, parents in the U.S. write 10% of profiles, compared with 35% in India, says Vineet Pabreja, Shaadi's general manager for North America. When parents assume the lead, they vet the candidates before the young people meet.

While such arranged marriages still exist among Indian-Americans, they're becoming the exception, not the rule, Pabreja says. The sites are creating a power shift between parents and children -- a blending of Old World and New.

The sites allow offspring to write their own profiles and to search actively on their own behalf. Furthermore, they can choose their own spouse from a much larger pool than a local matchmaker or well-connected auntie can produce.

It's a change that Indian parents, whose own marriages were typically arranged, are learning to accept, Pabreja says.

"In the U.S. and Canada, parents -- observing the way the American system works -- have come to accept the fact that they may not always have the final decision in whom their kids intend to marry. There will be a select group of parents who will still require their children to comply with their choices," he says. "But what we observe, by and large, they have come to accept the fact that kids will make their own choices.

"But having said that," he adds, "Indian parents do take a lot of interest, even though they realize that they may not have the final decision. They do take a lot of interest in whom their kids are dating and whom their kids intend to marry, and giving suggestions of all sorts."

Shaadi has made more than 800,000 matches since it began in 1997, Pabreja says.

At Suitablematch.com, Manglani says, "We've had marriages occur virtually within a month." But that's unusually fast, he adds. Other members may meet at least four or five times and marry in three to six months.

Today on WebMD

flowers behind back
Article
Upset woman sitting on bed
Article
 
couple kissing
Article
Exercises for Better Sex
Video
 
Life Cycle of a Penis
Article
HIV Myth Facts
Slideshow
 
How Healthy is Your Sex Life
Quiz
Couple in bed
Video
 
6 Tips For Teens
Article
Close-up of young man
Article
 
screening tests for men
Slideshow
HPV Vaccine Future
Article