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On the loose: Either/Or

Reading between the lines on matrimonial sites

Written by Leher Kala | Published: December 22, 2014 3:47:20 am

Concerned over complaints of harrassment and exploitation on matrimonial websites, the Women and Child Ministry (WCM) has suggested prospective grooms be asked to submit a legitimate form of identification, like an Aadhaar card before registering. The idea being to filter out married men posing as single, or stalkers. However, privacy is a big issue among subscribers who may not want the entire world to know what they’re seeking in a mate, or that they’re seeking one at all. Besides, there’s absolutely no guarantee
that making these documents mandatory will stop someone from lying or making false promises.

Before interfering, the WCM should consider that even people who marry after years of knowing each other are bewildered and stupefied by the huge gap between what they imagined would be, and how it actually turned out. Does anyone using a matrimonial website really need to be told that human beings have a propensity to lie? If you have any self preservation instincts whatsoever,  you will view superlative information on a random stranger with healthy skepticism. A matrimonial website is a mere facilitator, a provider of options for lakhs of people seeking love on the Internet. After that, the responsibility of due diligence should rest with the user.  According to a study conducted in the US, 81 per cent of people registered on dating sites, if not outright lie, misrepresent the truth.  Women (predictably) described themselves as eight pounds thinner than they actually were and men lied about their height and income.

As they say, talk is cheap and a little harmless embellishment is perfectly acceptable. When it comes to finding a mate, we all know instinctively — honesty is not always the best policy. If we really told the truth about ourselves nobody would ever find anyone, online or off.  Any profile, whether it’s on Facebook or shaadi.com is all about projection. It’s only natural I suppose, to put up your best picture and make yourself sound the smartest you can —  your best foot forward. As a friend who’s registered on one such website told me since exaggerating one’s attributes is the norm, it makes no sense to be completely honest since everyone’s expecting a bit of a stretch anyway.

The fibs, however, have to fall within the parameters of believable lies because if it leads to a meeting, a big deception could end a budding romance.

I belong to a generation where online dating didn’t exist and matrimonial classifieds in newspapers had filters, since family members were involved. It’s a very efficient way to find someone but I don’t relate to it. Firstly, it throws open too many agonising choices and I would spend the rest of my life unsure, wondering if I made the best one. How do you decide on ‘the one’ when a search has thrown up 2,000 other equally exciting prospects that meet your criterion?  It is perhaps, important to reflect on what the Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard suggested rather depressingly in the 19th century, that all choices lead to regret. Echoed, eloquently, a 100 years later by
Bruce Springsteen: “So tell me who I see, when I look in your eyes. Is that you, or just a brilliant disguise?”

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