Did You Know that in 2005, for the first time ever, households run by singles outnumbered households run by married couples? Also, for the first time in history, more adults have never been married than are married. This reflects an ongoing long term lifestyle change. While fewer people are getting married, this institution remains the most common foundation on which we build a family. This is especially true in our culture, where family is everything. We come from a culture where arranged marriages are the norm; where our children carry the family name.
Single men and women in North America face a lot of challenges in relationships. Guilt for pre-marital relations combined with an acute focus on marriage and pressure to find a mate from the right religion, family and caste causes many people, especially women, to struggle intensely in the dating scene.
We try to reconstruct the same type of community that we would experience in our home country and this creates problems. We try to hold on to tradition despite the fact that we live in a country where independence and individualism is emphasized. This leads to a clash or otherwise coined as CBCD- Canadian Born Confused Desi.
So the question is: What qualities do South Asian men and women look for in each other to maintain a long term relationship?
Opposites attract, but at the end similars last. A mutual understanding must develop between two people before they commit. The relationship may start passionate, but things develop gradually. “Love at first sight is not reality, it is important to know each other for a while”.
“Today, people are more practical. They are more concerned about their future rather than living amidst dreams”.
No room for Bollywood fantasies here like Kuch kuch hota hai. Underlying all of this is communication.
“Communication is the biggest challenge. If there is a communication gap, it is hard to connect with each other”. How can we improve communication? It is important to know that men like to keep it short and simple. Ever had the experience of going shopping with a guy? The guy knows where to go, and is direct and straight forward in his approach. On the other hand, the woman likes to explore and browse through the different stores. Or a guy may grab the newspaper and go right to the sports section. The woman, on the other hand slowly lets her mind wander across the pages.
A woman wants to be a part of every aspect of things, and needs to know what’s happening along the way. “She needs to know the reason behind it, the process, not only the “end product”. “Women are more analytical. Men are more spontaneous, not far thinking. We do not analyze things in a deep manner, and are practical”. So the perfect way to enhance communication is acknowledging each others’ strengths and weaknesses, and allowing each other to take charge in their respective areas.
“Females need more security before committing to something and are slow to react. Men take more chances and are quicker to react, like, relocating to another city”.
In crisis situations, the man may be dominant based on a wider perspective, a woman’s carefully planned input may be valuable. All of this must be expressed openly and freely. “I am tired of being the only one to put everything in words ”. So men, it is not necessary to keep quiet. Instead, it is good to express your thoughts and feelings. This is definitely a turn on for a woman.
What about traditional stereotypes? Do they really exist? For many men, the way to a man’s heart is through the stomach. So ladies, making roti and sabji would be a good way to stimulate your guy. Don’t forget the samosas. “It’s how we are raised. Mom cooks food and my sisters are supposed to do the same. Men eat first at parties, and that’s just how it is. It’s what we have been taught and we tend to be stuck in our ways. This is happening less with the younger generation.”
Stereotypes are there, but some men like ambitious women who know what they want and just go for it. It is not necessary that the woman stay home and take care of the kids. The majority of men, however, get intimidated by beautiful women with a successful career. “If a woman has good money and is accomplished, even though the attraction may be there it will take him forever to approach her.”
“Men do get intimidated, especially if she knows how to talk”. According to recent studies, smart girls were less likely to find a man who wanted to marry them. Their chances decreased dramatically in direct relation to their level of intelligence. It is important for men to know that these women are not out there for an ego challenge or to compete. Approach the girl and make her feel like a woman. This makes her feel needed. Girls, don’t hesitate to approach the guy every now and then either.
“I know that for centuries, women are used to men coming up to them and initiating. She can let me pull out the chair at the dining table. I can wine and dine her, but it blows my mind away when the girl is a bit more aggressive. A guy likes a girl who goes up to him, even for a kiss”. Like Madhuri Dixit in the movie “Dil”? Sometimes a guy just wants the same too. “…but don’t forget that there is a difference between slutty and classy. They should not be shy”.
So what are guys looking for? Men like the natural look. “Have you heard of the expression, “A beautiful woman is soon dressed?” Women do not need to put on a lot of makeup or spend too much time in front of the mirror to appear attractive. Last, but not least from religion to religion, and from place to place men’s and women’s priorities differ. However, whether it’s freedom from the burkah, honesty and integrity are some other qualities that are top on the list.
“No one is perfect, but if the qualities that attract are strong, they overwhelm you and the flaws are overlooked.” So maybe there is some room for some Bollywood fantasy after all.