Thursday, August 9, 2012

What Do You Want in a Desi/Pardesi Partner - Top 20 Questions to Ask Yourself

In sticking with the topic of arranged marriages in the Desi/Pardesi world I felt it fitting to add what things you would or should look for in a potential mate. Whether you're looking for a desi or a pardesi or already have one, these are things you should ask yourself and really think long and hard about before you enter into an intercultural relationship. (I'm writing this from the perspective of a girl. Guys, forgive me and substitute "her" for "him," etc as these questions apply to you too.)

  1. Does your potential mate share their emotions with you? Can you understand their emotions?
  2. Can you communicate well? If not, is he willing or currently learning your native language? Are you learning his?
  3. Do you laugh at the same jokes? If he doesn't find potty humor funny he won't laugh at your jokes and this limits communication. You would be amazed at how often you tell those jokes.
  4. Do you share the same moral values on topics like religion, sex, politics, and money? These are all relationship killers no matter how close you are to someone. You need similar views to avoid conflict in the marriage.
  5. Do you have similar sexual appetites? Yes, the kama sutra was invented in India but not every desi thinks you should have wild sex all the time. Some Indians (and westerners) only have sex for procreation. Cheating and infidelity must also be discussed and you must share the same view on them.
  6. Does he stimulate you intellectually? You can't have a decent conversation with someone you think is stupid. Find someone on your same education level or who thinks about life the way you do. 
  7. Do you share similar hobbies? You don't have to if you feel that hobbies are something you should do on your own (like sewing, bunjee jumping, etc.) but you should at least share similar interest or else it could be quite difficult to ever take a vacation together. 
  8. Personal time/space. Does he feel the same way you do on how much time each of you should spend alone? What about personal boundaries? Do you need 3 feet of personal space?
  9. Do you share the same maturity level? This is different than intellect. If you don't believe me, just look at the video game testers who play all day long. Most are really smart but not so mature. Or maybe your partner has a silly, childish sense of humor and you love that. Whatever it is, you need to both be close to the same level. 
  10. Sense of money/savings - Does your partner hold the same values as you? You can't have a spend thrift who wastes money all day married to a miser who saves every penny. It only invites trouble and leads to lots of arguments. 
  11. Career/Social climber. Do you want a mate who is always pushing themselves to do more, earn more, get promotions, etc. Or had you rather have someone who settles in at a company with a stable income and works diligently for a promotion but still comes home on time at night. This goes for socializing too because with many jobs, socializing is necessary for faster advancement. How much time should he spend socializing with the boss??
  12. Who cooks? This might sound simple but in both desi and western cultures it is no longer the standard for all women to cook. Most women will cook out of obligation and many like it but there are also men (most professional chefs seem to be least the celebrity ones are) who love to cook. Will you be in competition in the kitchen and do you like that? Or will you be stuck doing a chore you don't like? Maybe you both agree to eat TV dinners for the rest of your life. As long as you're both agreeing, any choice is right.
  13. Is your partner a good listener? If you're a talker, he needs to be. The opposite is also true. No relationship is one sided and you both need to be there for each other. 
  14. Does your partner support your dependence or independence? Some people are naturally dependent and do well at traditionally defined roles while others do not. Does your partner match you on this aspect? If you both are able to rely on each other that's great. If you're both able to be independent that is great but mixing a dependent person and an independent person could cause trouble.
  15. Does your partner like to travel? This is almost a standard in desi/pardesi relationships. With families in different countries, long flights are expected. Both partners need to be able to tolerate this. Consider blood circulation problems or other health issues that may prevent frequent travel.
  16. How does your partner (and his family) get along with your family? I've seen successful marriages where one spouses relatives were racist but it is best to avoid this if possible. Your families should be able to talk to each other without gossiping about each other later.
  17. Is your partner taller than you? Can you live with someone that height? Would you be embarrassed to walk down the street next to them? What if you were wearing heels? Would you dwarf your husband and attract unwanted attention? This works both ways, my great grandmother was 2 feet shorter than her husband and she had to stand on a chair next to him to take photos. Would you be okay with that?
  18. How is his personality? Is he prone to angry outburst that scare you? Or could you give him the same loud-speaker treatment right back? Are you likely to back down and cower if he yells too loud? How will you feel when he says you're overweight and he wants you to go on a diet? 
  19. What are his standards of hygiene like? Does he shower 3 times a day and you feel like that's wasteful? Does he wear too much cologne or none at all? How often and what time of day does he brush his teeth? Does he insist on eating with only his right hand?
  20. Does he feel like your best friend and excite you when he's around? Do you look forward to him coming home, calling or logging into Skype?
What are some things I missed? If you were to arrange your own marriage, what would you ask yourself about your partner or potential mate? If you were setting up a profile on a dating site, what would you want to know about someone before you started discussing marriage with them? What are some things you wish you had thought about before you married your current partner?

Watch Love Marriage ya Arranged Marriage on Sony in India!


  1. A useful list for those looking to take the plunge. It occurs to me that people who sign up on dating sites are also, essentially, arranging to find someone suitable for themselves. It does seem a little sad that we'd tick qualities off a list before we decided to get married or date someone, though!

    All the best for the contest. =)

  2. Listing qualities may sound sad but when you're thinking about the rest of your life, those qualities may be important. Someone who is easily angered wouldn't do well with someone who liked drama for example. It's more about compatibility than just listing qualities. This becomes especially tricky when mixing cultures since western women are not raised to just accept things in the home or relationship the way Indian women are portrayed to. (And I say portrayed because I haven't yet met an Indian woman who fits the image that western women are told they do.)

    Dating sites are useful in keeping you from wasting time on those who you could never have a good or peaceful future with. Thanks for your wishes!

  3. AP,

    A comprehensive one, but the questions are based on the fact that the two can "live-in" before deciding.

    In an Indian scenario, where the concept of Live-in is yet to get popular these questions have to be altered.

    Make sense?

    here's my entry -

  4. Yes they can live together but many either choose not to or they live on opposite ends of the world and physically can't. There are women out there who specifically look for desi men because of their culture. These questions are meant to help the girls who are either looking for desi men or who have found themselves falling for a desi man and are not sure if they can survive the potential problems in the relationship.

    Thanks for your comments.

  5. I want to know more about the pros and cons of being married to an Indian man that says, it is VERY important to him that his wife NOT work. What is the motive?

    I can ask this question, but the answer is, so she can take care of the house, kids, or work/be alongside him( not at a different workplace all her own).

    Does it have to do with taking away a woman's freedom, power by the man having 100% controll over the money?

    This is what I fear. Because, no person would admit this or may not even realize they think it...

    I love your blog!!!

  6. When I discussed this with my husband, he told me he would be embarrassed if I worked because people might think he couldn't support him. My reaction - 'honey, you have no idea how expensive I am!' Lol. I meant it but I think it helped shock him into the thinking that maybe society didn't matter as much as our happiness. At least I would like to think so.

    I'm not sure about restricting a woman's freedom but I have seen that if the wife doesn't work, some people see that as superior because she has all the time in the world for her husband. He can have dinner when he gets home, etc. I've heard this talked about more with the emphasis being on traditional gender roles than anything. In my Indian family, it was the MIL who kept the women locked inside in the generation before me, not the men. That concept scares me but at the time in Amritsar there was a lot of violence so I cannot judge or comment honestly as to their intentions.

    Also in our Indian family, my MIL and Chachi always had money. So them not working didn't seem to have anything to do with control. They never went without new suits, makeup, etc.

    I'm glad you like my blog. Maybe I can ask around to the Indians I know and get their perspective on wives not working. I bet it would make a great post.

  7. You would have to see if he has control issues in other places as well. Does he allow you to have friends? Male friends? Does he want to control the way you dress? How much you speak to your family? Who you talk to online? Does he want your Internet passwords but he won't share his? These things could signal a controlling or abusive spouse.

    They are not unique to Indian men. There are men from all cultures who are controlling and abusive. Likewise, control and abuse issues are not a normal part of Indian culture.

    There are men who don't want their wives to work because they believe that the home is the correct sphere for women and outside/working world is the correct sphere for men, and that these roles must be adhered to. There are other men who see their wives working as a sign of weakness on their part - that they don't earn enough to provide for the family on their own. These are both based in very strict gender norms, and while they are valid within their own contexts, if you do not share them, then you either need to come to a compromise on the issue or consider it a deal-breaker.

    But there are women who work all over India, of all social classes, so you can't just say "Indian women don't work." Perhaps in his local sphere (family and peers) they do not, but that is something you will need to decide for yourself if you are willing to submit to for the sake of your relationship.

    The short version: it MAY be an abusive behavior, and if it is, it's not because he's Indian. It may be because that's all he's ever seen, in which case you need to figure out where you stand on the issue and discuss whether it's a deal-breaker for your relationship for either one of you.