Friday, September 28, 2012

Are Indian Men Too Alluring to Pardesi's?

Think about that question for a few minutes before you answer. And keep in mind this post refers only to love marriages where real love exists. Not he kind of infatuation that is often mistaken for love.

From my observations, women (especially white, western women it seems) want the following things from a relationship:
  • To be thought of by their partner
  • To be given gifts (even if it's small and simple)
  • Affection - hugs and kisses
  • Someone who will spend time with them
  • Someone who wants to take care of his family
  • Someone who values family
  • Someone interesting
  • Someone who cares more about you than he does himself
These are hard traits to find. Finding more than 3 of them in any one man is even harder. Want to find 5 traits? You're gonna be single a long time! That is, if you look only in the area around you or only in your native community.

Look at that list again. 4 things on that list are obligations that an Indian man is taught from birth that he must do. Because they are from a different culture, they are interesting. The first and last things on the list are traits I see many pardesi women say their husbands have.

Western men are raised with the often unspoken but understood attitude that men are the breadwinners in the family. I'm not trying nor looking for a debate on how men are emasculated by women who make more money or the finer points of feminism here. It's just a mindset that is delegated to boys here. HOWEVER, this mindset is not ingrained into their minds the same way it is taught to boys in India.

In India, men are raised with clearly defined male and female roles in the household. Typically the man is expected to work and the women stay home and run the household. It becomes an expectation
and a pressure for the man to get a job right after he finishes school. Men are frequently degraded if they do not get a job and keep a job. They are scolded for not being worth anything, etc. This simply does not happen as frequently in US households. (Most men don't live with their parents after school. There is some pressure from the parents to get a job and take care of yourself but not to the extremes Indian men experience it.)

Indian men are also taught from birth to take care of their families, put family first, etc. It is an understood and expected concept that the man will grow up, star his life and then take care of his parents in their old age. Taking care of them can mean paying their bills, giving them money, or many other concepts. In the US, it is predominantly women who care for their aging parents and thus we relate to Indian men and the pressure that comes with caring for elders.

Pretty much every man in the world gives affection at some time and in some way. How much is unique to the individual. But, from what I've seen, as long as it's not in public, most Indian men are much more open about their emotions and are much more willing to cuddle and hug and kiss their wives. In the US there's a general idea that a man shouldn't be too cuddly with a woman or it makes him less of a man. Hence, many women crave the kind of attention they get from Indian men.

Gift giving is another concept that is much different when comparing Indian and US men. Both give gifts obviously. In India a man typically provides the best gifts his family can afford. Gifts are often about making a women look and feel beautiful. Gifting gold is a typical standard in India. Other gifts include fancy clothing or expensive electronics.

In the US the typical gift is flowers or chocolate. Good American men will buy something that they think their girlfriend would like. Some buy the inevitable lingerie (which of course isn't really a gift for the girl now is it?). Then you get the jerks who purchase gifts for their girlfriends/wives that they intend to use themselves (and I mean gifts the woman would never even want). So you can choose - someone whose gifts are all about you or someone whose gifts are either stereotypical or not about you at all.

Take a look at this commercial. You don't need to understand Hindi to get the idea that the men are waiting on their wives to spend all their money on gold lol. It's funny.

Of course this is meant to be funny because it's perceived all Indian women want gold, etc. I'm not here to discuss or debate that. Since I'm not an Indian woman, I have no idea how Indian women feel about gold. BUT, consider this gold business from a pardesi standpoint. One prime example in the US is that our gold is of a lower rating. The standard here when I was growing up was 18k then it was 14k and now there is way too much 10k available.

Even though lower standards of gold are available and preferred here, there are still many who get excited by the prospect of 24k gold. Some pardesi's are led to believe they will get gifts of gold upon marriage. Who would really want to avoid this? It is very easy to be lured into thinking you're *worth* 24k (or even 22k) when in reality that's the standard among the Indian community. (As in this is one place pardesi women may over-emphasize the importance of the gesture.)

Indian men will blow up your phone 10 - 20 times a day. Watch this one. It cracks me up but is a good depiction of how much Indian men call.

Hope you enjoyed that. Notice how one woman apologizes because the other woman's husband only called her 15 times a day. Lol. Regardless of how annoying we are going to find this practice, somewhere deep down we enjoy knowing where our man is and what he's doing all the time. We enjoy the attention that we're getting and all those annoying messages just prove how much he thinks about us.

Maybe this is why pardesi women are first drawn to their Indian partners. I know those were all factors for me. All 8. Jackpot! Lol.

Tell me how hard it is to find these traits in men from your country.
What other positive traits do you find alluring about Indian men (that don't exist in your home culture)?

***I know not all Indian men are romantic but I do tend to see a lot of these traits among the desi men that many pardesi's are married to.


  1. I would tend to agree ... Indian men do in general qualify for most of the traits. Actually I would not have considered it remarkable. Maybe because of your cultural conditioning, you feel these things as worth explicitly mentioning.

    OTOH most Indian women have very high expectations. They expect to be treated as princesses every damn minute of the day. They probably desire their men to have wings of steel and a touch of velvet. LOL ... it seems we have spoiled them.

    But there is one thing I am curious about ....

    How common is foot massage in your experience ? In India, I would say it is very common. And lest you get it wrong, I am talking about foot massage of women done by men. I find it very erotic, romantic and immensely enjoyable :)

  2. I don't know about you but I find my American friends & family becoming more hesitant to marry & start families. I think this is due to more to financial fears ( i.e. unemployment, getting a mortgage to buy a house is now next to impossible, inability to get health coverage, etc.) in the prolonged recession the US is suffering.
    I also meet a lot of young American males harboring some rather naive & immature ideals of women- for instance it's a 'supermodel' or nothing for them. Apparently these American males don't realize 'supermodels' aren't common ANYWHERE therefore the scarce 'supermodels' command HUGE fees for their displaying their attributes- and I seriously doubt any of these 'super-rich supermodels' would want anything to do with these mediocre American males & their relatively paltry salaries. So I guess it's really 'internet porn' or nothing for these ridiculous American males who overestimate their ability to attract a 'supermodel'.

  3. They are worth mentioning lol. You bring another point to my mind. Maybe pardesi women are alluring to Indian men because most of us are fairly low maintenance and thus happy with more simple things than Indian women.

    Foot massage is not nearly common enough. I don't know one single American woman who gets them regularly from her American husband/bf, etc. There are some men out there who do this but not where I come from it would seem. They also don't get regular back and neck massages. Whereas in India, I got face and throat massages from my favorite aunty and a massage of any kind any time I asked. That was so odd to me because it seemed too easy to get lol. Maybe I should have added those to the list. We pay for that kind of thing here in the US, it's not readily given for free. I think you're definitely right that foot massages occur significantly more often in India than in the US.

  4. Very good point! There is definitely a financial decline going on that affects relationships. I know men here that specifically say they're not dating right now because women are too expensive but they are all looking for hook-ups. I also know one married man who won't even date his wife! He goes out to eat by himself so he doesn't have to pay more- seriously? WTH!

    The supermodel image has been causing havoc for quite some time. You're right, these girls want nothing to do with the mediocre men unless they can get something in return. One other thing I think is interesting is how women are not drooling over male models the same way as men drool over women. Otherwise all of America would be single. Why is it women always have to take the spoils. Ugh. I think quite a few American men need to look in the mirror and really ask themselves if they are giving back what they are asking for.

  5. I've been following your blog for the past year and a half ever since I moved to India, and I've enjoyed reading your adventures with your Indian family and your impressions of life in both countries. I'm sure you are missing your husband after such a long vacation and I hope you can be together soon. I would like to say that I think that there are good and bad men in both countries, and the American men/husbands that I have known (including my own) are equal partners in every way, including domestic chores, and very affectionate, although of course they may show it in less obvious ways than gifting jewelry. Of course gold in India represents more than just a gift - it carries a lot of significance of family status and there is a lot of social pressure for husbands to have wives wearing a suitable amount! And anyone who lives in India and follows the many wonderful blogs about social issues (such as Indian Homemaker) can see that there are also many unhappy marriages due to the traditional mindset of patriarchal families. I'm sure most people in India remember that the TOI published a survey in 2007 in which 40% of women reported being beaten by their husbands and shockingly 54% of women thought "violence was justified on one ground or the other." ( Perhaps the happy marriages between pardesi women and Indian men are because these are definitely love marriages of choice and also because these men are clearly among those who hold more progressive thoughts and are not patriarchal. I think marriages that start out from love and mutual respect in any country stand a good chance of succeeding. Those partners who are in cross-cultural marriages deserve extra kudos for making an effort to understand and respect each other's traditions.

  6. coming to think about it ... we primates place special emphasis on grooming one another. massage is to humans what lice picking is to macaques.

    not doing it seems very unnatural.

    in India, most friends would admit giving a back/shoulder massage to each other. forehead and hair massage would be among close relatives or esp close friends. based on anecdotal evidence. I feel females do it to each other much more frequently than men.

    foot/hand/whole-body massage is generally given only among a family ... most common is man to wife, son to parents and parents to young kids. I have very vivid and nice memories of both my parents massaging me and my sisters before sleeping when we were young.

    in traditional households daughters are not expected to massage the parents ... the thinking being that they would anyway be expected to do that to the MIL, why should she be burdened in her own home.

  7. I don't think its just Indian men but people who tend to find their own race repulsive tend to find good qualities in other races. (also find them more attractive)

  8. Interesting post!

    It's hard to write off the general attitude of American men as not wanting marriage though; of my friend circle the vast majority were settled by 30. There are always guys who want to remain Xbox-playing adolescents as long as possible, but I'm of the opinion that if you need to give a man an ultimatum to marry you, you're kind of with the wrong guy anyway.

    I think that American popular culture and media (I can't speak for other countries) shows us really wrong images of what relationships look like, and if we're using them as our ideals, we'll all be disappointed. Beautiful girls are stupid, rich guys get beautiful girls, smart girls are ugly, beautiful people are shallow, if you're not lucky enough to be beautiful or rich, you need to have 'swag' or be 'funny' if you want a chance with the opposite sex, etc. And worse, the one that guys want FREEDOM and girls want BABIES. Seriously, watch any TV show you like and you'll find these ridiculous tropes EVERYWHERE. TV is not an example for how we live our lives and yet we somehow subconsciously compare ourselves to it. And don't EVEN get me started on internet porn and how THAT screws up people's expectations.

    There are lots of American guys out there who are totally marriageable. Likewise, read Indian Homemaker's blog and you will see lots of Indian men who have no business getting married (but will anyway).

    Good men can be found in any culture, and those cultural aspects that can be beneficial can also be a double edged sword. As you mentioned, the lack of pressure to marry causes many men to ignore their girlfriends' desire to get married, but with Indian men, the pressure to marry may cause them to do it for reasons only of family and community pressure. All cultural aspects have good and bad sides to them. I think we should definitely count ourselves lucky that we have found good men in the world! :)

  9. I've noticed the same trend with daughters not being expected to do chores in the home because they will have to do them when they go to their in-laws home. That is also different in the US. Here children are assigned chores equally or not at all typically.

    We definitely need a lot more of this massage trend here in the US. It's only been in the last decade or so that they've started discussing infant massage to help care for babies.

  10. Thanks for the compliment on my blog. American men do show affection in their own ways. But, it seems the women I know (that aren't with desi men) all seem to be craving the things on my list but can't find it in US men. The girls I know who are with desi men all seem to enjoy these benefits. Personally I had much rather have an affectionate man then someone who always mows the grass like clockwork or opens doors for me. Generally the only men I see here that are affectionate are lower class or the thug type. (And I mean no offense to your husband, I"m referring to the area's of Virginia I've lived in most of my life only. - I live in redneck/hillbilly land and the men here are often far more concerned with hunting, fishing or auto mechanics than snuggling up on the couch to watch a movie.)

    You have a great point about the desi/pardesi marriages. They do start out as love marriages and there's also some compatibility points I've noticed besides those listed. I'm sure a desi man could write a similar post about why pardesi women are so attractive to Indians.

    Respect is also of utmost importance. Not the kind of respect that comes from duty and obligation or well-defined roles in society but the respect that comes from genuine care for another individual.

    I remember that study. I wrote a post about it as well. It had some astonishing facts in it. I would hope that the increasing number of mixed marriages and the booming expat population in India will bring about positive social changes and help make women's lives there more equal.

  11. I wasn't attracted to the Indian factor either. I don't know if I found him exotic, I've always been more attracted to other ethnicities and I didn't even know his race until I had already formed a fairly strong bond with hubby.

    I understand what you mean about being romantic but I'm also including what seems to be socially dictated in my post. Looking at it from an outsider perspective, if you didn't know if the person was romantic or not, some girls would still seek out the Indian culture based on these typical things that they do.

    It is possible these things are more of Punjabi culture rather than Indian though. My hubby's not the only one I know who does things like this. I see his friends do this for their wives and other pardesi wives get the same treatment. But all those Indians are Punjabi's. Hopefully some other Indian wives from other states can post on this topic and let me know. Thanks for making that point!

  12. I actually had a conversation with another woman married to an Indian man - I'm paraphrasing here - about "the things that we just know we will never have because we married Indian men." Equal help around the house being a BIG one, along with other things that come from being raised a boy in a male-centric culture. (It's in US culture too - "get in the kitchen and make me a sandwich" culture.) But in India, it's generally LESS accepted in many cases for the boys to actually DO the household tasks - a mother can get taken to task by her mother-in-law for asking her son to do something that is seen as women's work! This is how patriarchy hurts boys too and makes them powerless to do basic things they need to know how to do in the absence of a woman.

    Outward shows of affection - some of the resistance toward these marriages by the Westerner's family is that "it doesn't look like he really cares about you." Well, if you measure 'care' by kissing in public and putting his hands through the belt loops of your jeans while you're walking, maybe! I'm weird about PDA too. It's nice to have someone who's on that wavelength.

  13. Oh yes, American media portrays a horrible image of what people are really like. It's just as bad as using Bollywood as an example for India.

    American men do have some good qualities I'm sure. In the areas I'm from though, it's really difficult to find anyone decent. The traits I listed are a common thing the girls in my generation seem to be looking for but can't readily find. Yes, men here do some things. Some will open doors for women, etc. but the general consensus seems to be that if a woman wants affection she needs to engage herself in activities the man enjoys and take what little she can get. That's just around here though.

  14. Oh yes, there's way too much of the 'make me a sandwich' culture in my area. Hence how I seemingly can't stand American men. I actually like cooking, cleaning, etc. and I prefer to do it myself (I'm so nit picky). I know most men throw their clothes on the floor and expect someone else to pick them up, etc. Those things don't bother me.

    I have some friends who were settled young and some who were not. But most of the friends I have wound up in divorce because the men were far beyond problematic. A good majority of the women I know are starved for affection and the men I know don't give gifts at all (not even flowers and chocolates) etc. I literally listed the traits that are seldom found here (my area of VA) but are found in Punjabi culture quite frequently. Some of these traits are dictated by traditional roles. Regardless of why they're done, it is still alluring. I'm not just listing my own experiences, I'm listing what I see as commonalities between myself and multiple other people. It's a trend, I just may not have pinpointed locations well. I'm learning. :P

  15. Rigid gender roles and misogynist attitudes do still permeate small towns (not just in the south!) in the US. I actually had someone tell me today that if I didn't let him go in front of him in line, it "wouldn't be chivalrous." My Texas upbringing kicked in, said "do not hurt his ego," and I said OK and went ahead of him.

    There's also the taboo against being "henpecked" by a certain culture of American society (you know which one I'm talking about.) These men have to assert their masculinity and not show too much love or affection for their wives in front of their 'bros' because they don't want to be seen as 'soft.' They aren't like that in private or at family gatherings, but if the guys are around, they have to Assert their Dominance! ROAR! :(

  16. @facebook-18801743:disqus

    While I agree with what you write I disagree with the generalization.
    Of course, the more patriarchal a society is the more work and chores will be separated into male and female. And usually this means that the household is "woman´s stuff". But there are always exceptions. My Indian fiancée for example is able and willing to do everything in the house. He currently lives alone and takes care of the apartment. He is the best proof that cleaning won´t destroy your manhood. Now it´s only our mission to spread the word;)
    I personally would not compromise when it comes to share chores, only because my partner has a different set of values. Been there, done that and hated it. I am willing to do the work as long as I am at home and he is making the money but once I will be working there will be a plan...maybe even a maid.

    P.S.: I really enjoy reading your thoughtful comments!

  17. I think maybe too there are differences between say, Punjabi and Bengali culture in this respect... I have read a couple posts you have written on this and thought "wow, that's really not even my experience" and some of it probably comes part & parcel with being married to a scientist, regardless of culture of origin!

  18. True, it probably is an overgeneralization, and certain cultures in India are probably more gender-segregated than others and have more gender-specific roles than others. Even in my own family I find that both men and women will help when required. Everything's flexible. But what is it that comes *naturally*?

    If you were in a house with your in-laws and your husband told you to get him a glass of water, and you told him, "Get it yourself," would your MIL fly off the handle (or just sit and twitch uncomfortably?) I know a lot of people for whom that would absolutely be the case.

    I'm sure there are also Indian men out there who are so unencumbered by gender roles they wouldn't even think of asking their wife to get them water - especially if they are closer to the kitchen - but there are definitely a number for whom it's just second nature to ask and receive instead of doing things themselves.

  19. In my books the most important thing a man must have is self-confidence and
    independence. This includes financial and emotional independence - since I
    learned the hard way how limiting it is to be the breadwinner.

    When it comes to my fiancée especially my need for his emotional
    independence was a problem. He felt and feels deeply responsible for his family
    (mainly his mother) while I have a very non-sentimental approach to family. I
    also never looked for a man with deep family-ties. That I ended up with one is
    a miracle.

    The way you described the Indian men in relationships with pardesis I
    actually have another thought. Namely that it is easier for a woman from abroad
    to end up with a "good" Indian man (whatever you consider as "good"). The men we meet and are willing
    to marry usually are less traditional, more open-minded and with a broader
    horizon. Them even considering a (meaningful) relationship with a foreign woman
    shows that they are willing to cultural (ex)change. Also, us coming from cultures in which emancipation and equality are important (I genralize here!) are less willing to settle for less, especially when being willing to leave our own culture and having to face all the woes of adapting to another country.

    In short: In my opinion the Indians in the intercultural relationships you observe are men who in general are better partner-material not because they are Indians but because they are more - lets say - mature on a global level. And just like Andrea wrote: marriage-material you´ll find in any culture.


  20. I absolutely agree. The majority of Indian men I met were exactly like you describe them. That is the reason why I personally wouldn´t advertise Indians as the "perfect husband". There are good ones and bad ones. And due to the predominance of patriarchal structures, there is a high number of Indian men with whom I would never be compatible.

    As for the MIL scenario. Her and I stopped talking long time ago. Not because of water issues though:) As a matter of fact Aditya, my fiancée, never once asked me to get anything for him. And yes, if he would have expected me to obey to certain rules I disagree with our relationship would not have worked. Gender equality is one of my core values. Not debateable.

    But then if he wouldn´t appreciate my independence and my outspokenness he wouldn´t have been falling in love with me...

    We simply had luck.

  21. Ha! I've fallen for lines just like that around here. And I'm really easily persuaded by someone opening a door for me at a local business. How could a good southern girl say no?

    It's just that masculinity assertion you speak of that irritates me to no end. I'm not as fortunate as you though because behind closed doors I've seen the same attitude from most of the men who have ever been in my life (family and non-family). I do remember what a good man can be like. My grandfather was a great role model. Unfortunately the rest of the men around here just don't act right at all. I find them intolerable at best. But, I can admit I am biased against them based on my own experiences now. So I probably wouldn't give them a chance to be my friend anyway (family included)

  22. This is such a great comment. You make a great point about the Indian men we wind up with being more cultured or less traditional, open-minded, etc. I really appreciate you sharing. I always love hearing good, educated views - especially since it's hard to be objective when you're in the middle of something.

    I do see some Punjabi men who are not with pardesi's who seem to be the same way outside of the home. I can't comment on how they are inside of the home though.

    Thanks for stopping by. I look forward to more great comments like this in the future!

  23. Men who are like this, not affectionate, not aware of their partner's needs, uninterested and uninvolved in the relationship, makes me wonder what kind of family they grew up in. generally, people consciously or unconsciously imitate the type of relationship that they saw in their parents while growing up.

  24. That's because American culture, up to now anyway, has been dominated by north European cultures. North Europeans in general are not touchy-feely and massage in America has had a very negative (i.e. sexual, synonym for prostitute) connotation for a very long time. In Asia, massage has been considered beneficial to health for centuries. Go anywhere in Asia and you will find that massage is commonly accepted and totally normal: Thai massage, Burmese massage, Vietnam, India-ayurvedic massage, Japan-Shiatsu, and so on. China-acupuncture, not massage, but close. It's just that there is no tradition of massage in European-based cultures.

  25. Good point. I've found that, in general, showing affection in front of children is taboo. My husband got in big trouble once because his underage cousin (age 12) heard him say 'I love you' to me. It doesn't seem accepted to show affection.