Love at first site: Is online dating that different to arranged marriage?

15 Mar

It was somewhere after the first half-dozen pool beers yesterday the talk turned to arranged marriages. Or, more specifically, what the hell was the difference between an arranged marriage in India, say, and a relationship sourced out of an Internet dating site.

Did I mention the pool beers? It seemed like a great blog topic, even though Internet dating and arranged marriages in India are two things I know even less about than usual, and if Ms CityKat finds out I’ve been working her side of the street, she’ll kick my arse.

But here I am the morning after, sober, and it still strikes me as a good idea. Not so much the technology of Internet dating, which has been with us for a long time, continually refining itself to the point where sites like or can offer some very specific matchups to those in need of the right kind of lovin’.

Nor are the pitfalls of digital hook-ups what I’m thinking about. Although the comment thread is open and ready for your hilarious payouts on mismatched dates. You’ll have a long way to go to beat the guy on Facebook who told me about his friend who clicked on to a potential match only to find herself bugged by a vague sense of familiarity. No, it wasn’t her husband or her former boyfriend. This guy matched the profile of a serial killer she’d just been reading about. “She saw his identikit pic on a TV most wanted kind of show and it matched his date site profile exactly,” he wrote.

No, what interested me – having thrown the question of whether I should write a blog on this topic out to Twitter and Facebook, and having had a massive and mostly positive response within a couple of minutes – was to ask how it is we manage to look down on the cultural practices of other people (such as arranged marriages) when we practice something very similar ourselves.

In fact in many ways our use of dating sites – another Facebook friend cited a figure of one in six marriages now arising from relationships that began online – is possibly inferior to older, more ‘primitive’ forms. Would you really trust Dexter the Robot to choose your perfect match rather than a gaggle of aunties, for instance, who’ve known both parties all of their lives, and can haggle to the fourth decimal point over whether the bride is worth two fatted calves or a suckling pig? I should also clarify that by ‘arranged’ marriages, I dont mean ‘forced marriages’, which are entirely different. A lot of people don’t seem to get the distinction.

Oh, and I have been specifically asked that in any replies you do not use the phrases “down-to-earth”, “ego-free”, or “fun-loving”. Also, please do not list your interests as “boating, fishing, camping & 4wd” unless you wish to be mocked. And if you use the phrase “honesty and respect”, you totally have to include a recent photo and a statutory declaration signed by JP attesting to your actual height and weight measurements

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Posted by on March 15, 2011 in Uncategorized


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